A little about Kitty Gallannaugh
Kitty a fashion and portrait photographer from London, England. She describes herself as a ’21 years old, with the energy of a 3 year old’, and has recently been featured in the ExpertPhotography Top 20 Young Photographers 2012 at number 7. She runs her own photography business to try and change the way the industry perceives photography by pushing any boundaries she can. She’s worked for Grazia Magazine, Elonex and most recently won People’s Choice in Art Takes Miami. Hoping 2012 is full of ten times more the excitement, fun and opportunities! You can check her out on Facebook here, where she has nearly 19,000 fans, and learn more about her, as well as contact her, here.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Kitty for taking the time to do the interview, as I’ve found it to be a very interesting read, and I’m sure that many more people will do too. Here it is… I’m in bold, Kitty is in regular.
When did you first get interested in photography? What sparked it, and when did you decide that it was what you were going to do?
I first became obsessed with photography when I was about 5 years old. My mother was a photographer and captured every moment of life with her lens – whether we were just walking the dog or exploring a European town. I was given a little camera and became infatuated with everything to do with photo-taking. By the time I was 13, I started to experiment with digital photography and editing and by 17 I think it had grown so much into me that doing anything else with my life would’ve been laughable.
At the moment, I’ll have to say music. I find myself tuning in to the radio so much more and picking up on every song I hear. It’s funny as inspiration comes in such ebbs and flows.
Were you educated in photography, or are you self taught? Did you make many mistakes that you look back on now and find embarrassing? I’ve got loads.
I am self-taught in photography. I went to university for a year’s diploma but we were never once “taught” one thing about photography during our time there – they trusted we already knew everything about our cameras and just told us to complete themed photography assignments. I personally feel it’s incredibly important to make mistakes (and be able to identify them) otherwise we’d never grow as artists. I will admit, I can relate to a lot of the points you make in your article such as using the wrong ISO and lens. Your article is eye-opening, to read something so openly honest is really refreshing and probably makes a lot of us feel a lot better about little trivial errors in the early days!
What camera do you use the majority of the time?
Being perfectly honest? Probably my phone camera! No joke. As my phone comes everywhere with me, I often find myself in those situations where something is so inspiring or beautiful that the phone has to be whipped out to capture it! “Canny” my angelic Canon is my other partner in crime – I just have got into the bad habit of not taking him absolutely everywhere any more.
Judging by your photos, you seems to work mostly with natural light, has this been a conscious decision for your personal style?
I think every photographer prefers one way or the other and learns to completely take advantage of their set-ups. It has always been a conscious decision to use natural light for my photographs, it is just what feels right for me. I have had multiple opportunities shooting in studios with the lighting and it just has never grown on me. I know others can work wonders with studio set ups, but I prefer to get muddy shoes and have the sun in our faces.
From the looks of your portfolio, you mostly focus on fashion photography. Once you’ve mastered this, is there any other types of photography you’re looking to move into?
Ideally, yes. The fashion industry is a wonderful place to work in; it feels like a family of really quirky, lovely and creative individuals to work amongst. In my spare time I play with macro photography and would love to be able to master that. It’s a brilliant way to see the world and be able to perceive things in a whole new way.
Which photo are you currently most proud of?
The hardest question yet! I have honestly just spent the last 10 minutes trying to figure this out and have come to the conclusion that I’ll have to choose this one.
You have around 19,000 fans on Facebook, what tips can you give to budding photographers who want to get their work seen like that?
I’m afraid I can’t be much use there as I have never once advertised or marketed my Facebook page. The people who come to my page are highly inspirational individuals who want to share their stories and experiences, the page is more like a friendship group where we all talk and have a good giggle together. We call ourselves the “army of dreamers” as we all are in the same boat trying to keep inspiration flowing and dreams alive. I know Facebook offers an advertising service which I would probably suggest people trying if they want a larger audience, though I really have no first-hand experience or knowledge to be able to advise wisely.
Comparing where you are now with where you are when you first started, what could you have done differently to get to where you are sooner?
This is going to sound disgustingly cliché, but I think the path I have travelled thus far has happened at the right pace and everything has happened when it was supposed to. Though, indeed, there are many things I can now see in hindsight which I could improve upon if given a second chance of starting life over again! I would’ve started photographing more people when I was still in school – I stuck to nature and still life back then when all I really wanted to do was photograph more people. I would have started my networking ventures earlier too, gone to more events to meet more people and have started my business earlier. I am more than comfortable and happy with where I am now though, so I can’t really dwell on what could’ve been.
You’ve clearly worked with a wide range of models, what tips can you recommend to people looking to expand their portfolio?
When expanding the portfolio, I feel it’s important to really focus on the area that you feel is weakest and needs more work before focusing on what you feel comfortable in. Branching into an area that makes you feel slightly unsure will help tackle your weaknesses and make you stronger for your commissioned work. Balance it out with the work you know you feel confident in with some new, fresh photos. Putting a few hours aside once a fortnight or even a month can help keep your portfolio fresh between your projects and keep your creative juices flowing!
Describe a typical shoot.
I wish I had a typical shoot and a formula to apply to it. Every shoot is so, so different. For bigger jobs like campaigns and magazine editorials, there will be a team of make-up artists, stylists, hair stylists and directors all working together to make sure everything runs smoothly. In that case, all the photographer has to worry about is delivering the best images. Other times it may just be me, a model (or two) and a make-up artist doing portfolio work so it’s a lot smaller and personal. Locations are either picked by clients or I will set aside time before shoot to scout/ask around. Models are represented by agencies I work with or are scouted off the street by me (it’s actually heaps of fun to do that!) Some days I have been on set for a week, other shoots can take 2 hours from start to finish so it once again depends on the project and scale of it. Organisation is always a key, sometimes I spend a week putting a shoot together, but I have been putting something together for over a month now in hope I can start shooting my new little personal project very soon!
How much time do you spend taking photos, versus retouching photos?
I take much more time taking photos than retouching them – though it can sometimes differ from project to project. I’m very particular with the way a shot is set up, every last detail is scrutinised through my lens; being a perfectionist has its downfalls. However, one perk is that if I get it all pretty much “spot on” then my post processing is incredibly simple as no lighting has to be altered etc. I can spend an hour working on retouching just one photo but have been known to exceed 8 hours on just the one to remove unwanted hair strands, changing colours of clothes etc.
To what degree do you retouch your photos, Photoshop? Lightroom? Aperture? Anything that you like to do in your photos in particular, such as add certain curves?
I use Photoshop CS5, it is one of my best friends (no joke!) I usually touch contrast and tweak a few curves to try and highlight certain colours. I clear up unwanted blemishes or bring out key features (cheekbones etc). Otherwise, I try not to do anything else to them, I like them to still seem slightly natural so people can still relate to them.
Prime or zoom?
That is like having to choose a favourite child! I really don’t know, they’re both so good in their own ways that neither is better and I love them both equally – I couldn’t live without either! I think my heart is more owned by prime though.
Remote, definitely. It’s like a magic wand.
Who would you like to work with most?
I think the list is endless! It’s like a very long Christmas list (though I wouldn’t actually mind if Father Christmas put these people down my chimney!) I’d love to work with people like Amanda Seyfried, Gemma Ward, Lily Cole (models/actresses), Tim Walker and Annie Leibovitz are on my photographers list, and fashion designers include(d) Alexander McQueen (sob) and Arisa Fukumoto who I have had the joy of working with multiple times.
Favourite photography book?
“Pictures” by Tim Walker. It’s a photography bible, something worth worshipping and devoting your life to. I honestly do not believe there is anything that even comes close to it in terms of so much inspiration, creativity and genius between two covers.
Favourite photography website?
Flickr.com – I love everything about it from the amazing community it has to the fun blog posts and discussions people have. It feels like a second home on the internet, a place where anyone can be accepted and somewhere for you to be able to express every opinion you have.
You could have anyone in the world take your portrait, who is it?
Amanda Seyfried, I would do pretty much anything to photograph her. Including putting her on my Christmas list for Father Christmas to kidnap.
What do you consider to be the main difference between yourself and others like you who have failed to get to where you are?
I wouldn’t put myself above others and say I am almighty and therefore know more than them – in my eyes, I still haven’t “made it” yet so still feel very low in the food chain of creatives. I can admit I have worked incredibly hard day and night to get the jobs I have and with no one to guide me, it has been a bit of a scary, thrilling and yet rewarding journey. I think the main difference is that most people set out to become great photographers and if they haven’t had the results they hoped for within a month, they’ll become discouraged and give up. I have been working on my photography professionally since I was 17 and have lost faith and drive at times, but I have always carried on and kept going no matter how scraped my knees were. Now I’m nearing 22 and am still working hard at it – art takes determination (it’s even in the word) and is a game of survival.
Do you still shoot on film, and if so, is it mostly for personal photos, rather than professional?
I do indeed. Using film has such an essence of magic to it – the anticipation of seeing the final shots and hoping they come out just as you imagined. I have a huge box under my bed full of albums which have all been shot with my film camera, I keep them personal. I have done a few professional shots in film, but I try to save it mainly for filling more albums.
Who have you learned the most from?
I wish I could say my life is like one of those films where a person finds a mentor on a mountain top surrounded by blossom trees and they learn all of life’s lessons from them. Unfortunately the closest thing I have to a mountain is the hill in the local park where nutty dog walkers lurk. I think everyone has taught me everything I know as well as seeking knowledge and answers myself. I’m probably one of the most inquisitive people you’ll ever meet (it’s a terrible flaw, I never know when to stop asking questions I don’t understand!) So in short, I think everyone has had an equal influence to the knowledge bank in my noggin.
You can only have one lens for the rest of your life, what is it?
This may quite possibly make me wail! I’m going to say my 85mm, it’s a loyal companion though I would miss my other lenses terribly.
If you could tell yourself anything when you first started out, what would you say?
Whatever you do, don’t ever, ever believe any dream is too big to work for. Just jump in.
Any final words of wisdom you would like to share?
Never be afraid to experiment, sometimes it won’t work but you’ll look back and learn from it. Keep an open mind and don’t judge a book by its cover. Be prepared to work for free from time to time if it’ll benefit you. Don’t stop making new goals and dreams for yourself to achieve, you’d be surprised just how achievable they really are if you put your heart and mind into them. Go forth and fill the world with pretty pictures!