I first met Tiffany about four years ago on a photography forum and immediately fell in love with her vision. Not only is she an amazing photography but she’s also a truly lovely person. The forum we met on may have disappeared but we have remained connected through Facebook and I have continued to follow her work over the years. In case you haven’t come across her work before, I am thrilled to introduce you to the wonderful Tiffany S!
an interview with tiffany s
As someone who never really knew what I wanted to become I always admire someone who discovers their chosen career at a young age like yourself. When and why did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in photography?
When I was young, I read a lot of books and was very immersed in the fantasy worlds of Narnia, Greek mythology, Harry Potter, etc. I also wrote a lot of stories and for a long time, I wanted to be an author. When I was 13, I discovered fashion which quickly lead me to Alexander McQueen and then to my biggest inspiration,Tim Walker. When I saw what people could create with photography, I knew that that was what I wanted to do.
What methods are you using to educate yourself about photography?
Shooting a lot and experimenting is how I’ve taught myself. I’ve also been very fortunate to assist a couple incredibly talented photographers and they really taught me a lot about both artificial lighting and the business end of photography. A lot of my friends are photographers as well and they’ve passed on their tips and tricks to me.
You obviously have a love for stylized shoots. What inspires you and helps you to come up with the concepts for your shoots?
I’m inspired by so many things – books, movies, paintings… everything! Inspiration can be found in even the smallest things. For example, I recently did a beauty shoot featuring gradient lip colours and used gradient layer cakes as inspiration. Usually I take bits of piece of the things that inspire me and put them together into one cohesive shoot.
I notice that you work with a make-up/hair artist and a stylist. What is the importance of working with specialists to create your vision and how does one go about choosing a good artist and/or stylist?
Working with a team is so important and often overlooked when looking at a photographer’s portfolio. I couldn’t do half of what I do without the people I work with. When people look at fashion photos, they’re looking at the work of a whole team of talented people coming together to create something amazing.
I always look at an artist’s or stylist’s portfolio to see what they can do and get a sense what level they’re at. I also try to work with them on simpler shoots first to get a sense of how well we work together before booking them again for something bigger.
Does the stylist only work with the clothing or do they also take care of any props/accessories and locations?
In general, wardrobe stylists only pull the clothes and accessories (shoes, jewelry, etc) for a shoot. I don’t work with a lot of props yet but there are also prop stylists I could work with or alternately I could find or create them myself. I usually have the location in mind while planning the shoot, as location is important to the whole vision of the story.
How do you find the models that you work with? If you find that you work well with a model do you ask them to come back for other shoots?
I work with modeling agencies. I definitely try to rebook the models I work well with for future shoots.
What advice would you offer to someone that it’s interested in creating more stylized sessions?
Firstly, having a good team is really important to the final outcome of the shoot. That being said, start simply and learn to master natural beauty and simple styling. The second thing is to know when to stop or pull back. A shoot with big hair, crazy makeup and dramatic clothes will be too much. Finding a good balance between all the different elements of the shoot is key.
I love the various ways in which you use light. Do you have a favorite type of light to use or does it purely depend on the type of shoot you’re doing?
I use natural light for the majority of my work and have always preferred it, but it definitely depends what kind of shoot I’m doing and the mood I’m going for.
Are there any other loves you have (i.e. reading, painting, fashion, etc.) and how do you feel they influence your photography?
I love reading, watching movies, looking at other artists’ works, and fashion of course. Together they help inspire me to create and show me new possibilities beyond what I could imagine. I often pull elements from different sources to put together a cohesive story.
What is the best piece of photography advice that you have ever received?
I came across this quote from Ira Glass that has really resonated with me:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
What piece of advice would you offer to a new photographer?
Shoot a lot! Don’t worry too much about your subject matter at first, concentrate on learning to see light and understanding how it works. Once you do, you’ll start getting the results you want.
Do you have any photography/business related fears and how do you overcome them?
Like a lot of photographers, I worry about not getting enough work. I just keep strengthening my book with new work and putting it out there!
What are some of your photography aspirations?
Ultimately, I’d love to be booked for my vision and what I can do.