In today's interview, I'm talking to Priya Sonn, a talented beauty and portrait photographer with an impressive portfolio of images. We discuss her background as a photographer, her recent "Pale Beauty" photo shoot, and share some great advice for budding photographers.
Q 1. Please tell us a little about your background. Do you have a traditional education in photography, or have you moved into the field from another profession?
My father was a part time photographer who ran a wedding photography business with a friend, it pretty much started from there. I was always interested in his camera equipment and curious as to how it all worked.
Photography is my passion, and as the years go by I would like to get more and more successful doing what I love.
After studying courses like Maths, English and Sociology at college, I decided to take a totally different direction and I went on to study traditional photography. I loved the course; it taught me all about dark room techniques, processing film and really got to the core of what photography was really like before the dawn of 'digital cameras'.
Shortly after my course finished I went and bought myself a digital camera and starting practicing on friends and family members. It didn't take me long to teach myself how to use a digital camera as there's really not much to it compared to using a film camera. I also invested in Photoshop - I had no idea how to use the program so I started researching online tutorials and basically took a trial an error approach. As time went on, my Photoshop skills started to get better and better and I finally got to grips with a Photoshop style that suited my style of photography.
Q 2. Your biography states that you "specialise in beauty, fashion, editorial and lifestyle". What made you focus in on these areas and, of the four, which is your favourite?
Firstly, I chose several areas because I couldn't just settle for one genre. Photography is such a wide art, how can one only choose one genre to stick with? I chose these specific areas because they are the ones I'm most interested in and they allow me to explore my style further. I tend to go through phases and don't always have a static favorite. At the moment I am concentrating on 'Beauty' work as this really allows me to concentrate on studio photography with creative lighting styles.
Q 3. Could you walk us through one of the shoots that you are most proud of, and explain why it was so challenging/rewarding?
My favorite shoot up to this date was a shoot I did called "A Pale Beauty". It was a fashion story with a write up on Albinism. It was such a beautiful photoshoot and really showed the beauty of people who have Albinism. My good friend and makeup artist that I work with on a regular basis came to me with the story idea, I was so excited I couldn't wait to get started.
We found it extremely hard to find an Albino model so we decided to use a pale skin red head model who we then turned into a figure of beauty portraying 'Albinism'. It was a really moving shoot and it was also featured in an ethical magazine called 'lifescape' who produced an amazing article to go with it. I'm very proud of the resulting images, and the whole team of creatives worked very hard to achieve such a beautiful shoot.
Q 4. From where do you draw inspiration as a photographer?
I find inspiration everywhere; movies, books and music videos are some key sources of my inspiration. I find old iconic figures to be amazing inspiration too - the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. Recently I did a self portrait that was inspired by Marilyn Monroe as it had such a romantic and old feel to it.
Q 5. Could you outline your photography workflow? What photography equipment and software do you use on a daily basis, and why have you chosen this particular setup?
I have a studio set up at home which is where I see most of my clients and do any creative work for my portfolio. If a larger work space is needed I then hire a studio.
I own the following equipment:
- Canon 30d
- Canon EOS 10
- Canon A-1
- Canon AE-1
- Bowens esprit lighting and accessories
- 18-55 zoom lens
- 85mm 1.8 lens
- 50mm 1.8 lens
- 35mm 2.8 lens
- 70-210mm zoom lens
- Bowens flash triggers
- 430exII Flash gun
- Photoshop CS3 extended
That's all I can think of at the moment. My camera is quite an old model which is in need of updating but I cant seem to part with it, it gives me such clear and crisp images.
Q 6. Where would you like to see yourself in another 10 years?
In 10 years I would like to be doing what I love, but hopefully in a studio of my own. I would also like to have picked up some sponsorship along the way - it would be really cool to test out equipment for companies . Photography is my passion, and as the years go by I would like to get more and more successful doing what I love.
Q 7. If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring photographers, what would it be?
Life is like photography, we develop from negatives. Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. Judy Garland
Photography should always express your own personal style and not someone else's. Practice plenty, and take your camera everywhere you go; there is always something beautiful to snap that starts a story of where your Photography journey began. Really think about what you want to achieve and set realistic goals. Be prepared for criticism and most of all enjoy doing what you do. Your passion will carry you forward!