I am delighted to bring you my latest interview today. It’s with an armature photographer whose professionalism and quality have earned her rave reviews from the models she works with. The lady in question is Laura Hince, an artist whose work I have had the opportunity to appreciate thanks to some fine examples of her work appearing in previous interviews on this blog. Having photographed a few models that have featured here, it’s been my privilege to showcase her images in the past, and a real joy to get this opportunity to talk with her about her craft now. In this piece I was lucky enough to pick Laura’s brains about how she first got into photography, as well as her methods and equipment. Well versed in the art of photographing latex, I was also very excited to be able to hear some tales of shoots past from Laura, who shares her experiences of working with the wonderful material. As always I’m proud showcase talent from every spectrum of various industries; in Laura I bring you a dedicated and creative woman, whose story and passion are quite simply fascinating…
Q: Welcome Laura. How are you? Always a treat to interview a photographer on this blog.
Laura: I’m very well thanks.
Q: I’m always interested in what drives individuals into their chosen field of expression. What was it for you that first made you pick up the camera and start taking photographs?
Laura: Well from an early age I can remember my dad always had to have the latest compact camera that was available, he also showed me how to use a Polaroid camera for the first time. He wasn’t interested in photography as such but he was always snapping away on holidays and at family events, so I was always playing around with cameras. However the big turning point for me was studying Media Moving Image at Oldham College. My class were the guinea pigs, as it was the first year of that particular course, and it was fantastic. It was an introduction to numerous fields in media; mainly writing, editing and production for video and radio. We were using video cameras and stills on a daily basis to construct storyboards. So that’s where my passion for cameras and lighting really kicked in.
Q: Did you have a particular inspiration in terms of photography; was there someone who you admired while you learnt, or even before you began that journey?
Laura: I have been a fan of Philip Warner aka Lithium Picnic for years. For me his work with the suicide girls was quite ground breaking, and his influence in the field of alternative photography has been huge. His images are sexy and playful and full of personality from both his perspective and the models’. In my eyes he made alternative erotica more palatable for a mainstream audience, and that can only be a good thing when it comes to breaking the mould of what is deemed beautiful and sexy. I’m also a fan of Ellen Von Unwerth and Helmut Newton; black and white photography is a field that I would like to explore in more depth at some point in the future.
Q: Speaking of learning your trade, you studied at Manchester Metropolitan University, how was that course and the experience in terms of shaping your method and approach to taking photographs?
L: Manchester Met is where my qualification came from, but the course was mainly taught at Manchester City College and we only went to the University for a weekly-lecture. To be honest I wouldn’t recommend going to University to study a subject like that to anybody. Maybe it’s a case that I’m slightly jaded as a result of missing over half of my course due to spending a lot of time in hospital. I’d probably recommend going for a night class, or a lot of photographers do tutorials. Spend your money on something like that and a good book and just get hands on experience. Playing around and experimenting and just getting in a studio and networking is what set me off in the right direction, not a foundation degree. I think some tutors are very narrow minded and if your work doesn’t fit what they are looking for then you are on the back foot from the start. It can become tiresome and degrading trying to mould your own style to fit somebody else’s vision. However the one plus I did take away from University was with their constant criticism of the direction I wanted to take, it did make me dig my heels in and make me more determined to stick to my guns and continue with alternative portraits. That’s what kept me sane.
Q: I’ve always felt that photography is a much underrated skill; with too many people thinking it’s an easy profession to break into. Do you think photography can be taught, or does the individual need a certain “eye” and passion for the craft?
L: I believe you need passion for anything you want to do or else it becomes a chore rather then something exhilarating. I think in an era when camera phones are progressing at such a rate, there’s no excuse for people not to have fun playing around with pictures and experimenting. However to become a photographer I do believe you need an eye for detail, such as distractions in the background or framing etc. Just taking my mum for example, her photos would improve tremendously if she took the time to notice that she was cutting the top of people’s heads off in almost all of her shots! Then again the “egg cup” shot is meant to be the in thing at the minute, so maybe she’ll prove to be more successful than me in the near future.
Q: Your portfolio is a joy to behold, I had a great time looking through it while researching this interview. The female form and female models feature prominently, is that subject matter something that you enjoy capturing? It must be a wonderful challenge trying to portray something so familiar yet so uniquely versatile.
L: Thank you very much. It’s not really something I have thought about to be honest. From time to time I place casting calls on ModelMayhem and I do put it out there for male and female models, however I hardly ever get male models interested in working with me. On the odd occasion when they have, they have proven to be quite unreliable, and haven’t even bothered to text to say they can’t make a shoot. It has made me quite wary. So I haven’t chosen to concentrate on women it has just worked out that way, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing people over the past couple of years, and as you said, the female form is uniquely versatile and I have also found that women are more then willing to suffer for their art. Whether that’s contorting themselves into unimaginable poses or tottering around in skyscraper heels. They give you their all and the results tend to be amazing.
Q: I notice that you’ve worked with a delightful model called Whiplash in the past; I always have to ask about this talented lady as she’s a good friend to this blog. How did that collaboration come about, and what is she like to shoot with?
L: She is fantastic isn’t she! I have had the pleasure of working with her twice. The first time came about after I posted a casting call regarding a collaboration I was doing at the time with latex designer Little Rubber Cherry. Whiplash was chomping at the bit to take part and I was over the moon to work with a model of her calibre. The second time we worked together was for a shoot that was going to be filmed for LatexGirlsHD, this involved working with the amazingly talented film producer Cole Black and latex designer Pandora Deluxe. Whiplash sent me a message simply entitled “Latex” and that was that, I was already onboard before I’d even read the rest. She was just asking if I was interested in taking part as we had, had so much fun working together the first time. The icing on the cake was when I saw the outfits and that we were shooting “The Riddler” dress. Now I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a bit of a geek, and that the whole “Ka-Pow” range of outfits is just drool worthy. As for what it’s like working with Whiplash; she is the ultimate professional, always punctual and well prepared and we always have a giggle. We can chat about everything from games and movies to each others latest projects.
Q: Another theme that I am very pleased to see peppered through your portfolio is latex. You’ve shot some dazzling pictures of models wearing my most favourite of materials. Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with latex? As an observer I love to look at latex imagery, do you feel that latex garments transform or enhance the wearer at all?
L: Well as far as my relationship with latex goes, I have a couple of small items but I’m not really a latex wearer as I don’t feel I could pull it off. I believe that it transforms and enhances the wearer. From a physical point of view it pulls you in and seems to do wonders in enhancing the cleavage. But it also seems to draw out a different side to the wearer’s personality. I think the best example of that was a shoot I did with Strawberry Venom. We started by shooting some regular outfits for a clothing company called “Not for Ponies” and she seemed like a fish out of water modelling those clothes. The minute she put on her latex outfit though she was back to her majestic best; strutting her stuff and posing like a trouper, she felt sexy again and that just brought out her confidence.
Q: What have you found it’s like working with latex clad ladies? Is there a different energy on a set, and do you see models struggling to move about at all? I always love to hear behind the scenes accounts of shoots that involve latex.
L: Yeah I think there is a different atmosphere. I found it so hard when I first started. On my second photo shoot I had one model that said “will you hold my boobs while I zip this up?” and “how do my boobs look in this pose?” I stood there not sure how to react, because while we were all women together, it’s not a question I was use to answering. Now 3 years down the line that’s just normal, as is chatting about games and movies while the women around me are semi or completely naked. I don’t blink an eye anymore. The best behind the scenes story I have happened last year when I had a model in the studio and we were shooting for Little Rubber Cherry. She hadn’t worked with latex before so she was getting changed into a bra and knickers set while I was shooting another model. I could suddenly hear a twanging noise and giggling behind me. I turned around and she was just stood there pulling and snapping the side of her knickers because she loved the sound that it made! Everyone in the studio was killing themselves laughing at her enjoyment. It’s because of moments like that, that I will never get bored working in this field of photography. Most models say latex is like wearing a sexy shiny second skin, though it does get very warm. But I have to say, the thing that tends to hinder movement the most is some of the crazy shoes that I have shot.
Q: How would you describe your working style? What would you say is your ideal working atmosphere?
L: I hope that people that have worked with me would say that I’m friendly, quick and efficient. Models in the past have laughed at me for fussing over small details and playing with my lighting a lot. For me, banter in the studio is a must; on average I tend to have 4 models in at a time so there’s always something going on, and I also make sure there is plenty of metal/rock music playing as I work.
Q: Do you like models to bring their own ideas and improvise during shots, or is it important for you that you get your ideas across first, before any improve occurs?
L: I tend to say; “right here are my ideas for the shoot, what do you think and is there something else you want to shoot in the time that we have available?” I would be really disappointed if a model felt they couldn’t give their input. I want everyone that takes part in the shoot to get something that they are happy to add to their portfolio.
All images used in this piece were taken by Laura and feature the following models/MUA in order of appearance:
1) NeeChee Neko (model)
2) Emma Dion (model) Amy Pilkington (MUA)
3) Abbie Mac (model) Zoe Rhodes (MUA)
4) Whiplash (model) Pandora Deluxe (latex)