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The Art of Photography

We’ve worked with the wonderful Amandine since 2014.  Her fabulous work never fails to impress and she is our go-to photographer.  We have worked together on events and Charlotte has collaborated with her on much of the imagery which we use for Wild Wood London.  A friend of the Wild Wood London team it was great fun finding out more about life behind the lens.

How did you get into photography?

I studied Fine Arts, where I developed a strong interest in video and installations; back then photography wasn’t at all my thing!
After a few years in London, I started working as a photographer while studying for an MA in Graphic Design, and learnt on the job. I was also working as a post-production assistant / retoucher for a well-known photographic artist at the time, which definitely helped me get my first few jobs.

You shoot a number of different genres, interiors, portraits, still life and events, what is your favourite?

What I love the most is the variety. I love shooting interiors because I get to go to amazing places. I also like how much I can work on the composition, and how I can create different vibes of the same place. However at some point I miss the kind of tension that happens when you shoot a portrait, when you try to translate a complex personality into a single image that gives a flavour of the person. That’s why I started my blog, so that I could do more portraits and approach people I was interested in.

I love the storytelling aspect of still lives, and ironically how much work they require to seem effortless.

Event photography is a treat, once you get the mood of the event; it’s a bit like a hunt for the perfect storytelling elements, trying to translate the solemnity of an instant or the spontaneity of a burst of laughter.

You’ve recently published your second book, does your style of work change when considering it for publication?

Yes, very much so in this case: the photographic effort here is more functional than aesthetic.

The Big Letter Hunt: London, which I did with architect Rute Nieto Ferreira, is an alphabetical picture book that takes its readers on a tour of London to find giant letters hidden among the city’s buildings and streets. Some letters are easy to spot while others need a closer look. Both books are for children and adults who like architecture, typography and exploring London.

What sort of shoot do you prefer working on the most?

I love being asked to give a flavour of a place or of a collection: picking the right details and shooting them with the right mood can say more than an exhaustive series of very descriptive packshots. That kind of shoot also requires a mix of genres like lifestyle, interiors, food and maybe portrait or actions shots, and I think it’s the best way to tell a story.

Dream project still to do?

A regular editorial featuring a portrait/interview of influential female designers/makers.

Dream person to photograph?

Rossana Orlandi and Faye Toogood

If you could be photographed by anyone who would it be?

I love how Frederic Stucin sets up his portraits with very sophisticated lighting, but leaves room for what always seems unexpected and improvised in the pose.

Most memorable project you worked on?

Shooting food still lives for Tom Dixon styled by food designer Francesca Sarti, for his restaurant at the Milano Salone del Mobile. Or flying to Florence to shoot a very exhaustive designers archive from the past 10 years in 36 hours.

How do you get your portrait subjects to relax?

I often ask them to blow their cheeks as much as they can and then release the air all at once. This relaxes the features and you often get a great natural laughing picture out of it.

How did you and Wild Wood London come to work together?

I contacted her via twitter. I was looking for interesting people to portray and interview and I really wanted to meet a flower designer, as I knew known. So Charlotte from Wild Wood London invited me to visit her former studio in Hampstead. I found her working on a floral composition, with that heavenly late summer glow falling on her through the skylight. It was just magic and we got a really beautiful series that features in good place in my portfolio. We’ve been working together ever since on a wide variety of projects, from interiors to still lives and events.

You describe yourself as an ‘enthusiastic French Londoner’ – how do France and UK influence your work?

I’ve lived in London for most of my adult life, so I’m not sure being French transpires that much in my work, as far as I’m aware of. In fact I come from a French island called Réunion, in the Indian Ocean. Our motto there is Florebo quocumque ferar, a Latin phrase that can be translated by I will flower everywhere I am planted.

This year saw the birth of your second child; how are you finding balancing motherhood and running your own business?  How do you manage?

I’m lucky to be a freelancer so I can write my own rules to make the two worlds work together. It can get incredibly intense but in the end it always works out. When my second child was born earlier this year, I found it hard to turn down some really interesting projects despite being on maternity leave so I just ended up taking my very young baby and our nanny on shoots with me, which amazingly none of my clients ever objected to. Not having to make a choice was incredibly liberating and rather empowering. Another reason why I love my job.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a photographer?

A graphic designer. Typography is my other love.

For all of the budding photographers out there, what advice can you give them?

Find your own style, something to make your photography stand out: a favourite theme, lens, kind of light which will become an element of your own photographic language.

Which photographers work do you admire the most and why?

I love how Tina Barney photographs people in their interiors, with a much wider frame than you’d expect. The lighting is always quite sophisticated and takes ages to set up, leading her multiple subjects to relax and stop posing, which is when she fires. The final images are a strange mix of sophistication and honesty, just in between interior and portrait photography.

Your favourite flower?

Coral peonies. I love how they go through different stages, looking incredibly different as they open and lighten, starting as a very bright orange egg and ending up as a generous white open flower.

Super mum, author and photographer, wow!  Enjoy Amandine’s stunning work on the Wild Wood London website.

Author Alexandra Metcalf

More posts by Alexandra Metcalf
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