I’ve been meaning to write something like this for a while, and what better day to write it on than the 13th anniversary of me finding photography as a hobby, or rather photography finding me, and my 4th anniversary of being officially self employed as a photographer.
It’s very easy to get complacent when you have begun to establish yourself, make your own style, you’re comfortably away from education as we know it and suddenly what once was research often becomes competition. We can view other photographers as above us, as a threat or sometimes we just convince ourselves that others are doing so much better than us and there’s no place in the industry for us. However, those are natural and everyday occurrences in a creative mind, and they aren’t necessarily true.
What IS true is that all of these photographers have at one point or another made me think, made me clap for them, they have caused me to be more driven without even realising it and I think for me, for someone to be inspirational they have to ignite something in you. All of these chosen have ignited both a sense of admiration and envy in me, and I mean that in the kindest way possible to both them and myself.
As a photographer you want to make people feel something with your work, and hell, each of these guys really make you feel. The best part about them, I know for a fact each one is humble, a hard worker, and constantly second guessing themselves – but I guess that’s what makes for a good artist. If you don’t keep questioning yourself you never progress!
So without further ado, this is my top 7 most inspirational photographers in my life right now. In alphabetical order purely because I can’t rate these guys from top to bottom, each brings a different quality to the table in their own way.
- Catherine Day – Follow on Insta! (Midlands)
Catherine is a beautiful soul, both in life and work. More recently she has been focused on her retouching work which is phenomenal, her level is something I will always aspire to be at. However I’m going to show you her past photography (and retouching) work.
I’ve been following her work for a long time now, every image she reveals is so clean, finished and kinda makes you want to touch it. They all look so soft, and I don’t mean the models, I mean literally the finish on her editing is so gentle but hard hitting at the same time. There’s a distinct style and edginess about them, which is also conveyed over into her retouching style despite the context of the image.
I’m excited for Catherine to get back behind the camera again one day but in the mean time I’ll settle for drooling over her post production speciality.
To check out more of her retouching work head to: Catherine Day Official Website
What do I get from Catherine’s work? She inspires me to keep going, keep picking yourself up despite what happens in your world, to keep learning new techniques but to also be kind to other creatives.
2. Chrissy Littlefair (Littlefair Photography) – Follow on Insta! (Teeside)
Littlefair is probably more focused on the glamour side of things but I’ve also loved seeing traditional portraits and more recently pregnancy shoots!
From Playboy cover shoots to working with celebs his work has gone from strength to strength and he also works on the retouching side of things.
The smoothness and sleek aesthetic of each image is second to none. With each image I see of his, it’s instantly recognisable. A self taught, 23 year old photographer who is already making huge waves and gaining himself a great following.
There’s something very satisfying about finally seeing a glamour-style photographer shoot in a way that empowers women, keeps a real artistic and beautiful edge to it but a sense of fun at the same time!
What do I get from Chrissy’s work? That you don’t have to go to an institution to learn, you can teach yourself and you can keep learning. You can also defeat the odds and keep climbing up that progression ladder and breaking boundaries.
3. Daina Renton – Follow on Insta! (Scotland)
Often assumed she’s called Diana, Daina is one of my favourite outspoken, non fuck giving personalities. She is a character through and through, and in her work that truly shines through.
Daina runs eleventy billion different projects all the time and it’s awe inspiring how she keeps up with it. On top of photography, creative art direction and juggling stupid people emailing her she also runs Feroce Magazine.
Her work has a dark and sometimes haunting vibe but at the same time somehow completely beautiful. Almost ethereal, but definitely conveying emotion and with each shot you can’t deny it makes you feel something, whether good or uncomfortable.
Good art doesn’t always have to make you feel comfortable, sometimes it can make you question things and feel uneasy. That’s what art is though right, making you feel something?
What do I get from Daina’s work? Her work aesthetic is hardcore, she develops projects from start to finish without scrimping. She reminds me that you can create from a dark place and make something beautiful from it, and that no matter what you do, hard work will always get you through.
4. Matt Leach – Follow on Insta! (Birmingham)
Matt will always be one of my favourite photographers – and much like I stated at the beginning, one of the humble ones. One of the ones that may never see how talented he truly is, but still continues to dazzle the world with that connection he can create in camera with whatever subject is in front of him.
As with every other photographer I have listed here is style is instantly recognisable, the projects he creates are simple but intricate, often one or two models and studio based but really encapsulating the personality within.
With Matt’s work what I find most interesting is his ability to cross the borders of androgyny on both parts. He will take something and make it both sexy and raw at the same time, nothing is overly airbrushed and his studio work is probably my favourite from his portfolio. Playing with shadows and making things not too “clean” is a real skill of his.
What do I get from Matt’s work? Well with Matt he reminds me to shoot because I want to. Shoot because you enjoy it, don’t get too trapped in the mindset of having to be something big or make millions. Remember why you started, and how it makes you feel when you create. I see him go through peaks and troughs with his mindset towards work but he always comes out on top, it’s a good reminder to keep creating.
5. Shannon Swift – Follow on Insta! (Nottingham)
A photographer, an illustrator, a damn fierce activist for everything feminism, racism and inclusivity. This girl is an all round creative and bad ass motherf*cker.
I have a lot of respect for this girl, she’s fought hard to be where she wants to be and not just against the grain of society but against how her own mind can make her feel sometimes. She is unashamedly herself and for that I take my hat off.
Her photography work is filled with deep rich colours from beautiful backgrounds and props to latex and a shit heap of glitter.
Even just from these few images you can see how beautifully shiny and glossy these are. Her lighting is always complimented on by those who follow her work, along with her styling and as mentioned her inclusivity. Shannon’s work is full of people from all walks of life, and I’m not just talking skin colour but size, shape, class, creed. She does not discriminate in any area of work and that’s where she draws her strength. I know of many photographers who are deemed talented because they merely work with the 90’s heroin chic style, a true talent can take any person and photograph them at their most beautiful, and that’s where Shannon slots in perfectly.
What do I get from Shannon’s work? As I said, her inclusivity and fierceness is what I get from her. A reminder to work outside the box, tackle societal issues by using creativity to do that and work hard to move forward into a more well rounded and healthy fashion aesthetic. Her work and even just her as a person really makes you question things for the better.
6. Talia White – Follow on Insta! (Birmingham)
Talia is another one I’ve followed for years – building herself up year by year to eventually be working with celebrities and now owning her own studio!
Her work is the epitome of where I would love for my career to be at, so here I am simultaneously in awe, cheering her on and quietly wishing I was in her shoes!
In the last few years Talia has built herself up as a creative, opened her own studio and even had a beautiful baby girl whilst opening up about her own journey with PND.
I couldn’t be more proud to see how far she’s come and with each project I see of hers I see more progression and she’s even now an ambassador for Interfit UK, recently doing a talk and demonstration at the Photography Show.
What do I get from Talia’s work? She reminds me where I want to be, but also reminds me that although people are similar in ambitions we are also still on different paths. She keeps me humble in terms of reminding me to cheer on those who I admire as it’s so easy to throw comparisons into the ring when in reality there is room for all of us to succeed!
Lighting-wise I love that she keeps it simple, often with one light and doesn’t overcomplicate things!
I’m also in awe of her juggling motherhood and being a badass career woman! Girl powaaaa.
7. William Clark – Follow on Insta! (Liverpool)
Everyone that knows of William will be aware of his insaaaaane beauty shots. Like I’m talking disgustingly beautifully intrinsically unbearably ughhhhh. Like I can’t even think of proper words, just look…
You know you’re a good photographer when people copy you and do it badly, and I’ve seen a few occasions when people have tried desperately to emulate William’s work and fail spectacularly. But hell, why wouldn’t you want to try and shoot this? Look how utterly breathtaking it all is, every shot is borderline perfect.
What do I get from William’s work? An appetite to work harder and learn more in regards to post production and lighting set ups for beauty. His work has inadvertently encouraged me to play around with lighting, reflectors, shadows, different lenses and even take more time out to work on personal projects and research different skin retouching techniques.
So those are my top 7 photographers that have inspired, influenced and encouraged me without even really knowing they are doing it!
To all 7 of you, thank you for being you, and to anyone else wanting to get into photography, already in photography and especially struggling with a creative block – just remember, for every moment you think badly of your work, there are a thousand moments being admired by others around you without you even realising.