Very excited to say I was recently interviewed by my pal Emma Gannon for her brilliant podcast Ctrl Alt Delete! Emma and I have a friendship borne of a professional relationship borne of a rather swanky, if a little tipsy, meeting at an industry 'do'. I ended up shooting Emma's first book cover (read more about that shoot here), the art work for the podcast, and various other projects together so we had lots to talk about in this episode. We also chat about my commitment to inclusion riders, working in the early days of motherhood, and the anxiety I felt during pregnancy about maintaining a career I had worked so hard for alongside being a mother. It's a personal one and worth listen (if I do say so myself). Check it out here!
Last year, I shot some imagery for Fabergé's social channels, which was one of the more fabulous experiences of my life! Nothing quite like a table filled with sapphires, rubies, emeralds, diamonds and gold to get you inspired. Of course, I absolutely had to try all the jewellery on in order to get inside the head of the Fabergé woman - all in the name of research! This is what ran through my mind...
1) Valentine's day is coming up so TREAT YO SELF because you gotta love yourself first riiiigggghht?
2) SMILE because, hello? You're dripping in Fabergé and what could be better than that?
3) Nothing, nothing is better than that. You're a Fabergé woman. Go forth and conquer the world.
Another year gone! I know it’s a cliché to say but this really has been the fastest one yet. I can’t *believe* it’s been a year since I was putting together my favourite photos of 2016. Back then I was just a few weeks pregnant, and now we have a 4 month old baby, we’ve moved house, and I’ve had a year of bigger work projects, new types of collaborations such as a brand ambassadorship for DataColor, and much bigger challenges, both personal and professional. I’m quite proud of myself for making it to the end of the year actually!
So way back in January I was asked to shoot the promo imagery for the talkRADIO show, the Badass Women’s Hour. What an honour! BAWH is now one of my favourite podcasts I download each week. It was exciting when the imagery was featured on the iTunes home page!
If you follow me on instagram (and if not, why not?! @hollymcglynnphotographer) you’ll know I said a few weeks ago that this is my favourite photo I’ve taken so far this year. Looking at all these photos now though, I can't decide on a single favourite! This shot is one of the images from the ‘Blade Runner’ editorial I shot for House of Coco magazine back in March.
In April, I shot something a little different for the inaugural issue of menswear magazine WattsWhat. It was still a fashion editorial but technically a still life, as the clothes weren’t modelled, but animated to look like they were. I actually wrote a blog post on how I created this imagery, as I had a lot of questions about it. Check it out here if you’re interested.
I’ve wanted to work with 55 Pages magazine since I met the editor Chris at LFW a few seasons back. In May, I got my chance with this editorial ‘Red Revolution’. Fortuitously, this fashion and politics magazine came out on the same day as the results of the snap general election which showed Labour had far more of a stronghold than the Tories gave them credit for. It may not technically have been a win, but it sure felt like one.
In June, I once again had the incredible opportunity to shoot with one of my all time favourite clients, Levi’s. The Levi’s Tailor Shop was popping up in Selfridge’s and I shot some assets to promote it.
Fellow Irish woman Lauren Arthurs contacted me in July, literally 4 days before my due date to tell me she was in London for a few days and to ask if I was up for a shoot. Well of course I was!
Ok, so I’ve just realised I didn’t actually shoot anything in August! I *suppose* having a 2 week old baby was the main reason, but we all know fashion takes August off anyway so the baby knew what he was doing. What I did do in August however was go to a meeting with Fabergé to discuss our upcoming shoot in September…and this is my favourite image from that shoot. So smiley!
In October, reunited with my dear friend Ella who I haven’t shot with for ages, we collaborated on this shoot as part of a larger AmEx campaign called #EverydayPerks
In November I was delighted to be once more commissioned by 55 Pages magazine for a fresh new editorial. It’s really hard to pick one favourite image from this shoot but I’m going to say this one, but I reserve the right to change my mind!
My friend Pádraic Delaney is one of the stars of the new show ‘Knightfall’ and we got together in December to shoot some really cool promo images. They’re dark and sultry and quite different from what I normally do but I’m thrilled with them!
So that’s it! 2017 condensed into 11 photos. Of course, this is only a small section of work from the year but these are my favourites. I’m happy to say that there are about 4 shoots this year that I would consider some of my favourite and best work to date. It's good to see progress at all stages of your career, which is why I like doing these posts so much. I’m excited to see what 2018 brings!
It’s been a little while since I last posted. I had a baby a couple of months ago (!) and although I’ve been working lots, finding the time to look after a newborn and maintain a full time photography career means making YouTube videos and writing blog posts has taken a back seat! But I’m trying to make time for them now so do let me know if you’ve any requests for particular topics.
I recently shared the knitwear editorial I shot for the first issue of WattsWhat magazine on Instagram. I asked if anyone would be interested in seeing how I created the shots and there was lots of enthusiasm so here I am, a little later than I had hoped, delivering on that promise. Below are some of the final photos:
So as you can see, the jumpers are disembodied and animated. The concept of the shoot was ‘Catch Me If You Can’ and told a story of a jumper on the run. (I just had an out of body experience rereading that sentence. What is my job if typing a sentence like that seems completely banal?!) We started withthe idea of a ‘fashion victim’ and that’s where myself and the stylist, my friend and colleague Jayne Bibby, ended up. The mood board (created in a pub in Bloomsbury) had lots of references to The Invisible Man - which really made me laugh - particularly this image.
We were commissioned to shoot a still life editorial, which isn’t my comfort zone as I almost always work with models. I’m not so interested in flat lays, my work is all about telling stories, so I wanted to really bring the jumpers to life to create a surreal, dynamic editorial.
We investigated different options for animating and manipulating the jumpers, all the while knowing that a fair amount of post production would be required in Photoshop to make the images look truly surreal. We considered dressing the jumpers on mannequins until Jayne had a conversation with a visual merchandiser and we realised that we would have more flexibility to create a range of poses and movement with invisible string, which can be bought in any haberdashery store, who knew?
Disclaimer: invisible string is a nightmare to work with. At least, it was for those of us who are inexperienced with this tempestuous yarn. We (read 'I') kept forgetting where we had taped the string and because you can't see it, ended up walking into and thereby dismantling, the arrangement that had taken half an hour or more to string up. And on the occasions that I did remember to watch out for the string, but needed to move it, I ended up contorting my body like Vincent Cassel in this scene in Ocean's 12 (no one on set got that reference but I really made myself laugh). Bear in mind I was 5 months pregnant at the time.
There was a rail in the studio so for most of the shots we hung the jumper up with a hanger and used the string to manipulate the jumper into the different scenarios, such as 'The Arrest' etc.
A couple of shots we set up differently. In ‘The Struggle', my ever obliging assistant Conor was catapulted into a modelling career he never anticipated. Using the funnel necked Richard James ombré jumper we took advantage of the long neck to conceal Conor’s head, pulled down the sleeves so that they covered his arms, then used Photoshop to clone out his lower half. Here’s a behind the scenes before shot compared to the final image.
I actually can’t remember the lighting kit that was in the studio but it was a 2 head strobe kit, not continuous lighting, and we used my trusty gels to create the colours.
So, a good magician may never reveals her secrets but this good photographer needed some new blog content so I hope you enjoyed this post. Again, let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to see on here or my YouTube channel!
In my latest YouTube video I give my thoughts on whether, as a photographer, it's ever worth working for free - check it out, let me know what you think, and if there's any other videos you would like to see from yours truly!
My latest YouTube video gives my top 5 tips for photographers who want to start testing with new faces from modelling agencies. This is a new series I'm developing where I give 5 tips on various elements involved in being a photographer. I've already made a video on 5 marketing tips for photographers which you can view here. If there's any particular videos you'd like to see from me, let me know in the comments below!
My latest editorial for issue 12 of 55 pages magazine is out now! I met the editor, Chris, at London Fashion Week in September last year and was struck by the political spirit that pervaded the magazine. I knew I wanted to shoot an editorial for this unique magazine.
Although my editorial would be trend lead, in the wake of the snap general election I wanted the shoot to make a political statement as well, or at least nail my colours to the wall in some way. 55 pages is a Labour supporting title, red is a huge trend for AW17, and so 'Red Revolution' was born!
You can view the full editorial here. As is always the way, the magazine chose different photos to those I would have chosen; they're looking for different things. The stylist and make up artist will choose different photos to me as well. They'll will be looking for photos that showcase the clothes or make up best. Everyone on set has a different priority.
My blog is a place where I can share my favourite photos, not those chosen by someone else, so here are my favourite photos from this shoot
I’ve mentioned before that some advice I got as a young photographer starting out was not to get preoccupied with the latest model of equipment and feel pressure to keep up with the constantly changing advances in technology. Far better, I was told, to focus on improving your skills with the equipment you have. This advice has always stuck with me and I haven’t ever felt obliged to keep up with the latest model. I've only upgraded when I felt I’ve gone as far as I can go with my current equipment. This has allowed me to stay focused and, as the phrase goes, ‘never blame my tools’.
This advice has also extended to how I carry my equipment around. I once read an interview with a famous photographer (whose name, frustratingly, escapes me at present!) who said they used to carry their equipment around in a plastic bag. This reinforced the lesson I learned starting out, so I always thought, ‘if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me’. But I definitely found maintaining my 'earthy' methods of transporting my equipment more of a struggle than resisting the peer pressure to upgrade my kit. I’ve always wanted to look stylish going on shoots so for years I carried my equipment around in various different hand bags, usually carrying two or three at a time because one wouldn’t fit everything. The upshot of this was my back and shoulders were always sore, I arrived on set a sweaty mess (thus completely undermining my goal of looking chic) and most importantly, my camera equipment wasn’t properly protected.
About a year ago, my selfless mum lent me her very stylish carry-on case when I was taking a flight from Dublin to London and didn’t have enough room for everything. This case (which I still haven’t returned #terribledaughter) quickly became my camera equipment case. Undoubtedly a vast improvement on my situation but still not ideal. The equipment was easy to carry around and I arrived on set less sweaty. BUT the equipment still wasn’t protected - the case simply wasn’t designed for that purpose - and I could never find anything because the gear was thrown together, pell-mell, in one large compartment.
Imagine my DELIGHT when a company called Peli Products reached out and said they wanted to collaborate on the TrekPak divider system they stock. TrekPak have developed a customisable divider system for the Peli case range which protects and organises your photography equipment. I make no exaggeration when I say, it’s changed my life! Now the proud owner of a Peli 1510 Protector Case, I finally have appropriate and robust protection for my equipment. The case is virtually indestructible (plus all cases come with a lifetime guarantee) and the dimensions mean it can be taken as carry-on luggage with most airlines. SO handy.
Trekpak make inserts to fit a whole host of different Peli case sizes - here’s the one to fit the 1510 case. They all come with protective top foam and bottom foam (designed to fit around the wheels and handle of the case) as well as perimeter pieces of foam - also designed to fit the case perfectly. The really clever part though is the dividers, cutting tool and pins provided which allow the user to create as many compartments as they need to feel organised. I’ve made this short YouTube video to show you how I’ve organised my TrekPak and how quick n' easy the whole process is.
As you can see, I’ve created three compartments: one for my nano stand, one for my camera and flash unit, and one for sundries such as radio triggers, spare batteries, memory cards etc. This is perfect for organising and transporting shoot essentials and the beauty of the foam dividers provided is that if I want to reorganise my gear in a different way, I just need to cut a new piece and pin it in.
Before I started using TrekPak I hadn’t realised how much time I wasted on a shoot looking for smaller items like memory cards or batteries. Now that everything is organised, I can find it immediately. I can’t recommend the Peli case and TrekPak highly enough, the only downside is that I now have no excuse not to return my mum’s suitcase…
Back in March I shot this SS17 menswear editorial for Noctis Magazine. It was my first time shooting with Sinclair from First and let me tell you, it won't be my last! Sinclair is such a great model, full of ideas and absolutely fearless - I've never seen anyone so readily pole vault fences or scale drain pipes.
As ever, I shot with flash, my trusty Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT never lets me down! The one photo in this editorial where I haven't used flash (can you guess which one?) happened purely because I was shooting faster than the recycling speed of the flash and I quite liked the result.
We used my apartment as a base for grooming and outfit changes and then walked 15 minutes to the location. This eventually became too tedious and time-consuming to do each time so some changes may have taken place behind walls and wheelie bins. Never let anyone tell you fashion is glamorous! All in all, it was a fab day with a great team - thanks for having me Noctis!
I'm delighted to share this exclusive editorial I shot for House of Coco Magazine - Blade Runner. I used gels for the first time in my career and loved it, I'll definitely be using them again. They can be tricky to get right but with a bit of trial and error we found the balance. I'm excited to say I'll be shooting again for House of Coco later in the year so watch this space!
Such a pleasure to shoot with Sarah Obende from First Model Management, her look was absolutely perfect for this editorial. Huge thanks to Smashbox Studio for letting us use their amazing space and their very talented MUA Joanne Reyes for the stunning make up. Art direction by the wonderful Charlotte Lea and awesome, futuristic styling by Karine Jones.
My latest YouTube video is all about my top 5 marketing tips for photographers. The video expands a bit on a blog post I wrote on this subject previously but I've included a couple of new items including some really cool business card drives from USB memory direct - watch the video below or click here to view.
I'll never stop taking photos of legs. If you need some pins photographed, I'm your woman.
I've made a video all about what's in my camera bag. I have blogged on the subject before but this video goes into a lot more detail - perhaps too much! Check it out, I'd love to know what you think. If you have an idea for a video you'd really like to see from me, let me know in the comments below.
Late last year I shot with bridesmaid dress label Rewritten who make affordable, luxury dresses for 'damn cool bridesmaids'. You might remember in my first YouTube video - I promised interviews with designers, models, make-up artists and various fashion industry folk. Well, it's taken a while but I've finally delivered on this promise with an interview with Frances Hudson and Katie Arnott - co-founders of ReWritten.
These ladies have a really inspiring story about how they started their brand so it's well worth a watch if you're thinking about starting your own business, are interested in fashion or are in the market for some beautiful bridesmaid dresses!
I love the images from our shoot last year and I especially love the fact that the red 'chianti' dress is red wine proof! If you like this video, do subscribe to my channel for my behind the scenes on fashion shoots and interviews coming soon!
I have mentioned before that I started working with model and DJ, Zara Martin last year. Zara and I had said for months that we would like to shoot something more creative together so at the start of December, having put together a damn fine creative team, we arrived at Smashbox Studios for a day of shooting. We had decided to submit an editorial to Dreamingless Magazine, a favourite I've shot with before, which would be coming out towards the end of the month - near NYE. The working title was ‘Last night a DJ saved my life’ (geddit?!) so the outfits were sparkling and we had glitter canons at the ready. The glitter canons actually caused something of a stir in the studio, we had no idea how loud they were going to be. Despite almost bursting everyone’s eardrums/risking cardiac arrest, the canons created a beautiful effect which snagged us the front cover! Totally worth it.
Inevitably, some of my favourite shots didn’t make the cut. I’ve spoken before about the photographer and client having different priorities. So here are some of my favourites, because if I can’t sneak them into my own blog, where can I?!
Art Direction by Charlotte Lea
Styling by Daniela Suarez
Stylist assistant Rojan Said
Make up by Joanne Reyes using Smashbox
Hair by James Wilson
On a Saturday night towards the end of last year, I received a call from an unknown number while I was cooking dinner. I almost didn’t answer because we had guests over at the time, but I decided to abandon my hostessing duties for a moment. As it turns out, the call was from Debut Magazine, asking me if I was available to shoot the main fashion editorial for their December issue that coming Monday morning. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I said yes. I suppose someone dropped out, but I was only too happy to pick up the slack.
The theme of the issue was ‘Celebration’ and the editors wanted the editorial to depict a raucous Christmas party. Well, maybe I added raucous to the brief actually. We were shooting at Bodo’s Schloss in Kensington, which for those of you who don’t know, is an Alpine ski lodge themed bar. Kitsch doesn’t begin to cover it and I’d say they’ve seen a raucous party or two in their time. When myself and my assistant, Charlotte, arrived the first thing we saw was a life size plastic reindeer on wheels. I immediately thought of the iconic picture of Jade Jagger riding a horse in Studio 54 so we made reinterpreting that photo our top priority.
Shooting for clients is a privilege, of course, but I think most photographers would agree that there is often a chasm between what you want to get out of a shoot versus what your client wants to get out of the shoot. You have different priorities and it’s important for both sides to remain respectful of that. You need to appreciate that a client is paying you to shoot what they want but equally the client needs to appreciate that they have booked you for your particular style so there is little point in asking you to make a departure from that. If so, they may as well have booked a different photographer.
This shoot was no different, there were frames we agreed on and frames we didn’t. Set-ups I loved and set-ups the client didn’t. You figure out a compromise as you go along. Sometimes a challenge can be that a client will want to see an entire look from head to toe. But I feel that an 8-10 page editorial of full looks, using the same focal length, has no cadence and no story. And I'm all about telling a story.
This red dress was the last look we were shooting and I was finding it quite tricky. Especially as we had shot in every possible nook and cranny of the location already. Below is a shot I thought was really fun, but Debut didn’t like. The shot below that is the one we finally worked out and agreed on. And I love it!
This shoot was unusual as I slotted in last minute. I normally have more time to prepare for my shoots, get to grips with the mood board and styling and help choose the models. I wasn’t involved in any of the preparation for the shoot and I felt the effects of that. I didn’t quite have the same ownership of and vision for this shoot as I would for others. But you’ve got to challenge yourself, put yourself into new situations, make some mistakes, and think on your feet if you want to improve. I’m delighted I did this shoot and it’s always such a thrill to see your work in print. Thanks for having me Debut!
If you'd like more chat about common challenges photographers face - let me know in the comments below!
Following a bit of end of year self-reflection, I decided to share my favourite photos I took in 2016. It’s quite exciting to see your style and skills evolve. I didn’t do a round-up of my favourite photos in 2015, but I can see a marked difference in the work I produced that year, compared to this year. On that subject, I recently stumbled across the photos I put into my application for my MA in Goldsmith’s over 8 years ago. I wept with laughter at how appalling they were. But it felt great to see evidence of the huge difference practise, grind and putting in the hours make. I can’t wait to see where I am in another 8 years…hopefully at the start of 2025 I’ll look back at my 2016 work and laugh too.
So without further ado.
My favourite photo taken in January 2016 is from a personal project I’m working on where I photograph legs and shoes. This one was particularly memorable because the legs in question belong to my little sister and the photo could not have happened without the help of my other sister and my mum. The matching shoes, weights and gym shorts were provided by my family and my little sister could only balance on the Swedish ball because my mum and sister held her in position until I was ready to shoot. I would take a couple of frames and then she’d fall off the ball. It’s one of my favourite photos and it was just taken in my parents house with help from my family - I love that!
In March, I shot this beauty editorial of summer looks for 2016. The make up trends were interpreted and created by super star make up artist, Gemma Tyler, who I love working with. With looks called ‘Desert Rave Glossy Eye’ - who wouldn’t be intoxicated by that?
An unseasonably hot April meant shooting against a brilliant blue sky on the roof of the Bussey Building was an option - huzzah! I get asked a lot if this editorial, for Sukeban Magazine, was shot against a painted background. Nope, it’s all real baby. Sukeban Magazine runs a section called ‘Girls by Girls’ which only publishes photos of girls taken by girls (or women, in my case). I like this idea. The majority of fashion photographers are male so it’s interesting to see more focus from a female perspective. Incidentally, if you haven’t already checked out Amanda de Cadenet’s initiative #girlgaze, which champions young female photographers and their perspectives, then get on it post haste.
In May, I was thrilled to shoot the look book for incredibly cool, modern, Scandi jewellery brand Coco's Liberty. It was one of the best shoots of the year, we all got on so well, ate cinnamon buns, drank coffee, had lunch in the sunshine and sang ‘Formation’ approximately 1,000 times. It’s a wonder we got any work done. Happy days! (I made a BTS YouTube video about this shoot, check it our here)
June brought another opportunity to shoot some more personal work, so I sought out another pair of legs and another pair of shoes. This shot was my favourite.
I shot an editorial for Dreamingless Magazine in July and wrote a blog post about it at the time, here’s the link. In the post I talk about the paradox within fashion, shooting summer clothes in winter and vice versa. This shoot was no different. On the hottest day of the year, I think I did a fine job of making this shoot seem a bit darker and more autumnal than it was!
Speaking of the fashion paradox, another beauty editorial I shot in August was finally published in Xiox Magazine in November! I loved working with Jesse from M&P, she was great fun and has a wicked laugh. My wonderful assistant Charlotte developed biceps of steel (or perhaps she had them already) by fanning a reflector to get the right kind of movement in the hair. We had tried a fan and hairdryer and neither gave the desired effect. I didn’t inflict the pain without checking it was absolutely necessary first!
In September, I did something a little different. I was invited to take part in a TV pilot called ‘Glam Squad’, a competition based programme about the fashion industry. It reminded a bit of the Britain’s Next Top Model format, challenges are set and a winner is declared. Except instead of models, the contestants are stylists, hair stylists, and make up artists. I was asked to be involved to give opinions and to take photos of the challenges. (See one of my interviews here!) It was really exciting to do something so different. Styling the band ‘Running with Wolves’ was one of the challenges and this photo of the lead singer is my favourite (probably because it involves a leg and a shoe).
I shot the main fashion editorial for the December issue of Debut Magazine in October. The magazine’s theme was Celebration and we shot a Christmas party style editorial at the fabulously kitsch Bodo’s Schloss in Kensington. This was my favourite shot. It looks exactly like the kind of night out you should be having at Christmas.
In November, I was chuffed to be booked again to shoot the look book for Coco’s Liberty. We had just as much fun and just as many cinnamon buns as the last time. I can’t wait to work on the next one!
And finally, in December, it was my privilege to shoot for Dreamingless Magazine again, this time the cover! Myself and the team shot Zara Martin at Smashbox Studio. There were glitter cannons (that made a LOT of noise), a wind machine, metallic trousers and sequinned dresses. What could be a better cover for a December issue? And what could be a better way to end 2016?!
This year I have been giving a series of fashion photography workshops across the Soho House Group in London and New York as well as The Gallery of Photography, Dublin. Incidentally, the Gallery of Photography was where I did my first ever photography course about 9 years ago so it’s really nice to have come full circle.
The workshop is entitled 'Fashion photography: Any person, any camera, anywhere' and the premise of the workshop is that you don’t need expensive camera equipment and technical prowess to take a good fashion photo. What you need do need are good ideas and if you can communicate those ideas visually, then even a smart phone will take great fashion photos for you.
These images are the premise of the workshop in a nutshell. One was taken with a professional camera and flash unit and the other with a £6 disposable camera from Boots. Although the top image is more on brand for me as a photographer (bold and colourful), I actually prefer the image taken on the disposable camera. The cheap film of the disposable camera gives the image a grainy feel, which makes the image look a bit like CCTV footage. Because the flash of the disposable camera is so weak, it means I have to stand quite close to the model. This results in the model being overexposed (and losing any realistic skin tone) and the background underexposed. I quite like this though, I think it makes the model look like she’s been caught doing something she shouldn’t. In this slide, I'm showing that it doesn’t matter if you have expensive camera equipment or not, what does matter is how you execute your idea and exploit the essence of the camera you do have.
Throughout the rest of the workshop I show some examples of my work that were taken with a really simple set up and work of some of the greatest photographers in the world that use famously simple technical set ups. What these photos show are that the ideas and intimacy with subject are the most powerful tools in a photographer’s arsenal, not the latest camera equipment.
We then break up into groups and spend some time shooting and experimenting with ideas, concepts, poses, locations, narratives, etc. Students have said the most difficult thing can be to come up with an idea on the spot. Creativity is like a muscle, you need to exercise it regularly to make it strong. Use it or lose it! But you have to start somewhere. One idea begets another and teamwork is essential to this, which is why I recommend students pair up or shoot in groups.
After the practical session has ended, we review everyone’s photos and I go through some quick editing and retouching tips. I’ve been so impressed by the creativity and skill of each group I’ve worked with. I'm giving another of these workshops at Soho Works this Saturday 19th November (open to Soho House members) and at the Gallery of Photography in Dublin early next year so keep an eye out here to book your place. Alternatively, if you want me to come to your company to give the workshop, get in touch!