I’ll Take Your Headshot!

Generally when your a photography student at University who knows a few drama students, you tend to get asked to do a lot of head-shots for them. I first started doing them when I was in my first year when I didn’t know too much about lighting and didn’t really understand how important head-shots for actors are. Over the last 2 and a bit years, I’ve never turned down a single person when they’ve asked me to do them and I think because of this, I’ve gained a great deal of experience and made a few friends.

Recently, I’ve realised that a career in photography is my only option. It would be difficult for me to do anything else when I have experienced a life as a working photographer. Therefore, my aim in life is to not be wildly adventurous and dream big, but to be realistic and know that if I can survive by making a basic living from my photography, then I will be the happiest snapper out there. Because of this realisation, at the start of my third year I set a price list and started charging for my work. I want to put value to what I’m doing and for people to know that photography is my job, not just something to do with my spare time. It’s nervous to set pricing and expect people to pay, but I already had a small portfolio of head-shots gathered. Last year after doing some for a production called 4.48 Psychosis, the director Adam Morely has been encouraging students to hire me and take my shots to their London showcases. I am now hired at an average of 3 times a week at my hourly rate.

I’ve found after shooting so many potential actors that casting directors will hire someone solely on their headshot. If they look too happy for a serious role they will just skip past their picture. It’s my job to make sure that these people get the most variety of expressions and outfit changes as possible so that they can use them for different roles.

With charging people I felt like I needed to improve the quality of images, so I taught myself how to do professional retouching on Photoshop. This was done through a mixture of trial and error, photoshop lessons and online tutorials. I am now fluent in several methods of retouching including Frequency Separation, byRo and Touch Up techniques. I’ve became confident in the studio as I work in there every week trying new lighting techniques in my spare time or just trying something new when I have a job.The next thing I would like to learn is how to use Lightroom and to light groups of people evenly and hope to do that in the next few months.

Here’s some of the head-shots I’ve taken recently:

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Sketches: A Collaboration

Recently I have finished a short project done with other creative Eleanor Boot. She is a student at the university studying Musical Theatre and Music. For her FMP she has created her own EP (small album) and I’ve been working along side her to bring her album to life. She approached me last December when we came up with an idea and shot the initial images for it.

Now that it’s time for her project to be completed, I helped her finish off the design and with her direction we created a CD cover, back of the cover and disk design. It was important to Eleanor that we stay true to who she is and that we sell her as her own brand so her face was the cover of the album with some colour and sketch filters applied to it to make it fit in with the name of the main song and album name, Sketches. It is important that we really took her ideas for the project and my ideas for the project and made something that we were both really happy with as in the end, it is the client who has the most important opinion but if we could both get something for our portfolios out of it then that was even better. Eleanor didn’t have too much direction in where she wanted it to go, but when it got to a place that she loved or hated, she was vocal and made sure that we worked out all the kinks and ended up being something we both really love.

Here’s an image of us working together on her album cover.

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You can check out Eleanor’s music on her Soundcloud account here or check our her personal website here. 

Thanks for reading!


Being An Assistant Photographer

I have been working for Tommy Martin since May 2014. Since then I have continued to work for him about once or twice a month assisting on photoshoots. He is a landscape/lifestyle/commercial photographer who lives and works in Penrith, North Lakes.

It was interesting working with him the first time because I had to get used to going in someone else’s bag and handling their equipment. Never mind that he trusted me enough to handle his expensive cameras and thousands of pounds worth of lights. I soon learned the names and uses for all of his gear and now after almost a year, I am comfortable doing that. Even to the point where I can make suggestions about lighting, but always cautiously and never in front of one of his clients. Thats something I learned from the get go. In order for him to look as professional as possible I need to be able to take clear direction and show that I can follow his lead yet still show initiative. Here’s a picture from summer when we worked on the Caravan and Camping Club’s summer campaign (which is shot a year early).

Tommy Martin Shoots C&C club

In general my responsibilities include carrying several bags of equipment on location shoots. Setting up the agreed lights while Tommy talks to the client. Basically, it’s my job to make sure his job is easy; to be one step ahead. Even bringing food and spare drinks to shoots incase the models or make up artists forget as sometimes we can be shooting for up to 8 hours and often without breaks. I have met some amazing people thanks to him and he’s very patient when I don’t understand particular terminology or how a piece of equipment fits together. It’s great to discuss my work with other professionals too because it makes a more rounded perspective on the work.

The most recent work together was assisting for a big client of his, fashion designer Karl Bowman. Karl was showing his latest collection Autumn/Winter 15 in a pre-London Fashion Week (LFW) show and needed photographs urgently for his Lookbook to display for potential buyers.

There was quite a complicated lighting set up as the lighting needed to be flat and as Tommy emphasised during the shoot, it’s about the product and the clothes, not the model in them. Thats a very different aspect that I hadn’t considered for these types of shoots which I need to remember that advice for doing my own future shoots. Here’s some images of the set up and of Tommy and Karl working.

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As someone who is completely obsessed with fashion, I loved this shoot. After completing my work setting up the lights and making tweaks I got to talk with Karl about fashion and his collection, getting to know a bit more about the clothes and his design aesthetic and of course, how important commercial photographs are for buyers in the fashion industry. It was a great networking day and I’m really learning how important it is to meet people and work as hard as I can as it is an industry I am keen to enter. The next shoot we’re doing will be at a manor house in Ullswater shooting for a bridal company in mid-March.

Here is a link to Tommy’s final images.
Thanks for reading!

CV Development

I developed my CV last year after attending a CV building workshop as part of an extra University class we could take. When that happened I didn’t have much to put on my CV but over time that has developed and changed into something that I am proud of. What I have achieved in only 4 years shows a lot of my professional works and achievements in it and hopefully it will continue to develop and grow over time. 


2012 to Present- Photography BA (Hons) Degree at University of Cumbria

2010- Double Award Art & Design A Levels at Workington Sixth Form Centre


2014 to present- Assistant Photographer to Tommy Martin Photography

2013- Social Media Intern at Liverpool International Photo Festival

2013- Volunteer at Carlisle Photo Festival

2012- Print Technician & Sales Assistant at Max Speilmann

2011- Photo Editor and Printer at Picture It!


2015- Iris Exhibition Feature, F2 Gallery, Your Vision at Freelance Photographer Magazine

2015- Promotional Photographs at Wish Strings .Co

2014- Official Photographer at CAMPUS Student Magazine

2013- ‘Exploring the Culture and Symbolism of Japanese Geishas’ CAMPUS Magazine


2013- ‘Meet The Photographer  Beneath The Boughs

2014- ‘Society’ The Photography News


2015- World of Wool, (University Of Cumbria) Iris Degree Show Exhibition

2014- Exposure, (The Old Fire Station) Group Exhibition

2013- Making Waves, (Old Post Office) Group Exhibition at Carlisle Photo Festival


2011- Under 18’s Workington Spring Fling Arts Award

‘Turn-over’ Tour

For the most part, what you see in galleries and museums is generally only what they want you to see. The artist work in it’s imperfect and selected state, obliging your thoughts into a specific way in order to direct your thinking one way or another. I wonder what people would think of an artists work if they were able to view the entire works scrambled on the floor in pieces and unfinished. Well thats one of the things I got to be a part of last weekend. My class was invited by The Baltic in Gateshead into their ‘turn-over’ period to view the behind the scenes tour of the installation being set up. This exclusive tour was led by Chris Osborne, the Technical Manager of exhibitions at The Baltic.

It began with an introduction from Mr. Osborne, which was actually quite fascinating. Listening to him sum up his entire career in about 10 minutes was quite impressive which went from part time framer to professional installationist (is that even a word?) within a few years.

We toured the late Jason Rhoades upcoming exhibition, a critically acclaimed installation artist who created colourful pallets with biological and often sexually chaotic work. Rhoades seemingly had a knack for creating atmospheres, but when I saw his work in pieces on the temperature controlled floor with tubes of pornographic images pasted on them it was more a feeling of disgust than artistic awe. Yes, the artwork being displayed seemed very intriguing but the really interesting part I found was the tour itself, and getting to quiz Chris on the technicalities and logistics of creating that kind of atmosphere from working with their in-house wood workshop to using outside tech specialists. 

The Baltic Wood WorkshopKatie At The Baltic

He spoke about how difficult it was to recreate work. As I learned the majority of The Baltic’s exhibitions are part of a tour and often aren’t the first gallery to hold the work so usually exhibitions like Jason Rrhoades’ arrive in bits and pieces in crates, sometimes with no building instructions. This leaves it up to the tech team to uphold the integrity of the artist. I find this fascinating and quite a romantic approach to installation. They are honouring the work of a deceased artist by making it technically accurate in his memory. I know that if I were to leave my work with a gallery I would hope they have a similar approach.

Upon experiencing the rest of the tour one of the questions I asked there was how much input the artist has in regards to filling up the space or was it the tech team that made those decisions? How involved is the artist? I wanted to know because of our upcoming photography exhibition in May/June and to see if as an artist, I can make professional and technical judgements yet remain creative with my approach.

Chris and the entire team agreed that it was dependant on the artist themselves and how much of a vision they have. Sometimes the artist will have ideas about the installation and it’s up to the tech team to work with them to see exactly what is realistic. Other times The Baltic is just sent the crates with no instruction and it’s up to them to work out the best possible way for their art to be shown.

I’m definitely a hands-on kind of photographer. I like to be involved in every step of my work being shown even if that means creating and building sets, and in fact it’s something I enjoy. It’s a great part of the process and I’m learning so much about logistics by doing so. Chris’s tour was very enlightening and I hope to apply some of the things he mentioned like working with the space and atmosphere and applying that to my own work and exhibit.

Thanks for reading!


New Ventures Into Studio Photography

For my first post on here, I figured I may as well delve right into it. I want to talk about my experience over the X-mas holidays from Uni with sort of setting up a studio. I say sort of because it’s not really mine; I don’t own it in any way, I just use the space and run it occasionally.

It began when a model I have worked with, Kitty Quinzell, previously introduced me to a tattoo artist named Troy Slater and was telling me how the company that he works for were looking for a photographer to take some interesting studio images of Tattoos. So I offered myself up for the job, he looked at my online portfolio (www.katielaura.co.uk) and said he would talk to his boss.

We arranged a meeting and met the following week. The boss was evidently not keen on my portfolio. He didn’t vocalise that, but there was a lot of uhmming and ahhing at my pictures. I think that was because they were after something more studio based when the majority of my images are location based. This was an error on my part, I just didn’t think to adapt my portfolio for their needs, even though I knew what they were after. Thats something that I need to re-consider when going into interviews. I remember being on Job Seekers for a short amount of time and attending CV building workshop where they stressed changing your CV for different jobs. This is advice I have always followed but somehow had not considered this as transferrable advice, which I now know it is.

The meeting ended in a positive though, as the company, Immortal Arts, said that there was another photographer who was in the same situation as me, who wanted to shoot with them but also needed development. I suggested that I meet the other photographer and we work together in their building.  Which we did, me and the other photographer Rabb McArthur, met and had a very long lunch where we discussed our work, setting up a business together and the tattoo company. The following day we went to the tattoo studio’s spare rooms and set up a studio space together. Rabb supplied the backdrops, table, chairs and props, and I supplied the lights (which I had just bought myself the week before), the laptop and computer for editing and we both brought in our camera’s and lenses (luckily we both shoot Nikon!)

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After we had set it up and figured out a basic ‘go-to’ lighting set up, the next day we went back to the studio and started working there. The tattoo company would suggest us clients and they would pay us for a 10-15 minute photoshoot, and 1 digital image. We had 10 clients on our first day, which kept us both busy. Some of  the photo’s are now up on the Tattoo Studio’s website. I did most of the shooting and editing, and Rabb was the one who spoke to clients and got them to buy images. It was a system that worked very well for us and played to each of our strengths.

Now we have come to an arrangement that every week we go and shoot at the tattoo studio together, usually on a Saturday. It’s a great little system we have going and I hope eventually it could grow into a proper business upon graduating.

Thanks for reading!