London is a Brooklyn based photographer who appreciates conceptual work and seeks inspiration from film photography and cinema.
She approaches every shoot as an opportunity to grow in this creative field.
We interviewed London on her upbringing, artistic freedom, power of photography and favorite inspirations.
Where do you consider your artistic home? Is there a city, country or neighborhood that inspired you to get into photography?
Northeast Minneapolis, where I grew up. My mom gave me my first camera when I was eleven and I started taking photos around our neighborhood. I continued capturing Minneapolis through photos of its people for the next twelve years of my life. It will always be home.
What subject or person have you yet to photograph that you have always wanted to photograph?
Nicholas Fols. He’s a young photographer, director, and model. He’s an inspiration.
How does social media impact the quality of work for a photographer?
Instagram bot propagates dilutes the art of taking photographs. With iPhones and social media, everyone is a photographer and at the same time nobody is. It’s a great platform for sharing our work, but in a culture where we are inundated with images it contributes to a loss of focus and definition in the field. I’ve recently started taking more photos on film, which forces me to slow down and really mean it when I release the shutter. I think that Instagram pushes us to be fast, but I believe at times it is better to be slow.
What power does photography have to effect change?
It’s crucial to consider the impact a photo can have, both on its audience and its subject. I work with many inexperienced models, especially young women of color. I strive to capture and share their beauty, strength, and power in my images. Everyone I photograph has a story, and I’m interested in representing my subjects’ stories in my work. I believe this kind of representation is powerful enough to generate positive change.
What are the elements that make a photograph beautiful?
Honesty, memory, and surprise make beautiful photographs. Capturing something that someone knows, but doesn’t understand—or understands but doesn’t know. Photographs that make you feel, those are beautiful.
What are you trying to translate in your work to those who see your photographs?
Many of the people I work with are young women who are interested in modeling but who have very little professional experience. It is exciting to show them a side of themselves they had no idea existed. I love defining and redefining beauty in each new shoot, and sharing that beauty with the world.
When do you know you have the right shot? Is it only exclusive to your eyes?
I always start with a clear idea of how to set up my shots, but often they end up totally different than I expected. This is great. I love that I can still be surprised by my own photos. The best work is unplanned and unexpected. The best work is real.
Given that people are often your subject, what is your opinion on selfies?
Selfies are another way to express yourself through photos, but there’s a difference between taking a selfie on your phone and taking a self-portrait. Self-portraits are really difficult. Last year I started a project where I tried to take and post one self-portrait every day for a year (@najiijade). But as I said about Instagram—the speed it demands and the proliferation of selfies can be detrimental. I made it to #106 but if you look at the photos you can see not all of them are self-portraits, some of them are just selfies.
How much artistic freedom do you like having when given a project?
There’s nothing better than a client who loves your creative style and gives you the freedom to shoot in your own way. That being said, if there’s something really specific a client is looking for, it’s also exciting for me to take on that challenge and try to deliver exactly what they want to achieve.
Is there something you are looking to achieve when you photograph something?
I strive to evoke emotion. I want the audience to engage with the stories I am telling in my work. Photographs are inherently subjective. Sure, you can go into a shoot with a very specific idea in mind, but when it comes to the audience for that photograph, everyone is going to respond differently. I hope my photographs invite diverse engagement.
What are some photography secrets that you can share with our readers?
There’s nothing wrong with asking for advice or asking how someone achieved something. If you find a photographer who inspires you, reach out to them and see if they’re interested in discussing how they work. I know that a lot of beginner photographers can be intimidated by their more experienced peers, but I say go for it and learn as much as you can from the artists around you.
Which camera and lenses do you use?
I primarily use my Canon 5D Mark III with the Sigma Art 35mm, 50mm or my Canon 85mm. I also recently started shooting 35mm film on the Canon A1 and Minolta X700.
How would you describe your photography style?
Minimal and essential.
What time of day do you prefer to shoot, night or day?
I prefer to shoot in natural light, typically outdoors. A grey afternoon with a bright sun behind the clouds is ideal.
The Fox Magazine is all about inspiration, what/who inspires you the most?
Nicholas Fols and Kat Irlin. Nicholas shoots stunning, emotional portraits in natural settings and Kat does fantastic editorial campaigns for Vogue and other publications.
What’s your best advice for aspiring photographers?
Find a subject that brings you joy. Practice and play with your editing styles, and don’t feel like all of your photos need to look the same. Experiment and teach yourself as much as possible. Lastly, if you haven’t already done so, get yourself a manual film camera.
What photography or art-related motto, quote or words to live by helps keep you inspired?
“Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy—your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” -Annie Leibovitz
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