Welcome to Interview with a #GirlBoss, a monthly series around inspirational women who are forging their own futures.
When I was much younger, back in my days on the goth scene, I once asked the resident scene photographer how to take a good photo. He responded:
It takes 100 photos to capture the perfect one – essentially, you just point and click until you get the shot.
Being the 19 year old that I was, I understood this to mean that I just point and click away and hopefully I’ll get a decent shot out of it. The methodology worked somewhat, and at several points in time I fancied myself somewhat skilled.
Many years later, and enter the rise of social media, the Blogger, Vlogger, and Influencer. I have since learned that point and click isn’t photography and simply doesn’t cut it. Sure, it’s great for memories, but it’s not professional photography.
Photography is a creative industry, just like dance and music. It requires concept, composition, creativity and a lot of technical knowhow.
Professional photographers don’t just point and click – they need to understand the light, the subject, and the sentiment of what they’re trying to capture. They have cameras with dozens of settings, each to be finely-tuned to capture the perfect piece of art – just like tuning a guitar for the perfect pitch, or mixing acrylics for the perfect shade.
That’s why for this month’s Interview with a #GirlBoss I asked fantastically talented Kaye Ford of Fordtography if she’d be happy to share her journey and inspiration!
So, who is Kaye Ford? Well, if you’re a blogger, or read blogs by UK bloggers, you’ll know Kaye’s work. In fact, if you’re a royal watcher you’ll be more than familiar of her work when her stunning photo of the Duchess of Cambridge went viral in November of 2017.
Kaye has an almost unnerving ability to capture raw emotion in her subjects, and has a unique vision that sets her apart from others within the industry. Working mainly with influencers, Kaye’s vision is to be admired and her understanding not only of her art, but how to capture the perfect shot, is second to none.
From her beautifully composed photos to her enthusiastic and passionate nature, Kaye is an inspiration to women working in the creative industries who want to do it their way, and on their terms – a true #GirlBoss.
All photos below by Kaye Ford.
Kaye Ford of Fordtography
Hi Kaye, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!
Aw you’re SO welcome! Thank you so much for wanting to feature lil ol’ me.
Of course - I love your work! So firstly, what (or who) inspired you to delve into the world of Photography? Was it a conscious decision, or something you fell into?
I have the lamest answer ever for this question, because literally it was just the fact my school decided to offer it as an A level when I was joining sixth form. So I was a guinea pig in a way but I also wanted to give it a go as I very much loved painting and art so obviously was more creative than academic. I don’t have any famous photographer family members or anything like that. It was simply that I decided to give it a go for my school and I kinda fell in love!
The industry has a reputation for being very difficult to “break into”. What difficulties did you face in starting your business, and how did you overcome these?
I have been working so hard since 2011 to make this my full time career. 2011 is basically when I graduated and all my part time jobs I had around this time were all photography related so that I never strayed from this path in my life. I have never stopped grafting and really never gave myself much down time as I would be working and then trying to make a name for myself around all of this. Social Media is definitely a huge help nowadays, without it I have no idea how we would even market ourselves!
So I would say social media has definitely helped me overcome any difficulties and if you use it effectively you can shine. I am still not where I want to be within my career but I am happy currently considering it has taken from 2011 until 2017/2018 for people to know my name and my work. Instant success is not a thing, you need to work hard to get to where you want to be and I think that is why this industry has a reputation.
Loads of people pick up a DSLR and all of a sudden think they can charge £200 for a full wedding and drive others out of business. When in reality, that business model does not last long and you now see loads in the news about couples suing their photographers for false advertising etc etc.
Bloggers throughout the UK adore your work, and your time is very much sought after. What do you think sets you apart from other photographers in the industry? Have you found having your own unique style more of a benefit, or a set back?
I wish I knew haha I know my editing style is one thing. Like, I get people say they know straight away if an image belongs to me. It’s unique to me. I have yet to come across it being a set back because at the end of the day every photographer should have their own unique style as it is what would set them apart from the countless others out there!
Editing is just as important as being able to actually use a camera and equipment correctly. I also think my #KayesPortraitTips and #KayesTravelTips help to set me apart too as I want others to learn photography and get creative too and so creating a hashtag was a way I could teach but also for me to showcase my work at the same time.
Images you have captured have been seen on sites such as Vogue and Elle, which most people would consider “Making it!” yet the measure of success is an incredibly personal thing. What does success mean to you, how do you measure it, and is it even that important to you?
Success means everything to me. I mean, I don’t know how to measure it and I wish I did but I have these unattainable goals and I never feel successful because they are unattainable. Example being, my career started at London Fashion Week. I was backstage and shooting runways of about 10 different shows a day. I was backstage at House of Holland, Temperley London, Ashish etc.
My dream was then always to go on to Paris Fashion Week and shoot the Chanel show. SO UNATTAINABLE. So in my eyes I will never be successful until I achieve this. The fact I no longer really do LFW means I am out of that world and out of that loop so achieving this success is that much harder.
I tick off a goal I want to achieve and another one takes it place and I always feel like I won’t be successful until this goal list is completed and empty. BUT, my boyfriend describes it in a different way and the fact I am able to live and survive and be comfortable in my life is a form of success.
There is a common misconception that Photography is more about luck or “knowing the right people”, rather than time, passion and creativity -a misconception which ultimate questions the value of a photographers work. Have you ever been faced with these misconceptions, and how did you overcome them?
I am going to agree with this misconception in a 50/50 way. Kendall Jenner and Brooklyn Beckham are only getting covers and major photography campaigns because of who they know. Kendall shot Kylie for LOVE magazine and Brooklyn has done Burberry campaigns. THIS WAS MY DREAM IN SCHOOL. And because I don’t know the right people this probably won’t ever happen for me whereas they got handed it for knowing the right people/nepotism.
HOWEVER. We all know how passionate I am and how busy I am and I have managed to make a living from this job. Whilst cover campaigns may not be landing in my lap from not knowing the right people, I did still get a cover campaign and do still get published in print due to sheer hard work and determination and getting my work out there! Some of the work I have done has purely been down to me knowing the right people too don’t get me wrong, but at the end of the day if you aren’t creative and any good as a photographer then knowing the right people won’t get you anywhere anyway.
The world of photography has changed in leaps and bounds over the years as technology continues to grow, develop and change. Have these technological advances helped or hindered your career? How do you keep up?
I used to work for Canon, so I am so used to keeping up with technology and still keep my finger on the pulse of new tech. I know all tech info about cameras and always read up on new releases because deep down I am just a big nerd. Technological advances have only helped my career and equipment is getting easier and smarter too. Even social media advances have helped my career as instagram stories allows people a sneak peek into my life without me vlogging it and it also shows a more relatable person too.
In a world where everyone has a camera phone, and being an Influencer is now a valid career, how has this affected your career? Have you found that people are now more comfortable than ever in front of a camera, or are they more reluctant to hire a professional?
A DSLR and a camera phone are 2 very different things. Some people are super comfortable in front of a phone, but turn a camera on them and they get awkward and shy. It’s still a different mentality between taking selfies and getting someone to take a portrait of you. If anything though I am finding more and more people are contacting and enquiring. There are some people whom now solely only use their phone for Instagram so I have lost some regular people (FYI Instagram isn’t smart enough to detect if you have taken an image with a phone or a camera, and as soon as you apply a ‘filter' over the top anyway it doesn’t know any different). But the amount of enquiries and the amount of people I shoot is definitely higher than last year so if anything it is increasing my career.
Where do you see the future of not only your own career, but the industry as a whole heading? What advice do you have for any aspiring photographers out there?
I feel like right now instagram is the one dictating this as a career. My following isn’t huge, but if instagram were to die then this whole industry would die meaning my career would effectively be over. If blogging dies, so does my career. My career relies heavily on bloggers and influencers being around. I may still get the occasional event job for PR’s and brands, but they would go back to being journalist only events and images probably wouldn’t end up anywhere. But if I am honest, I think this industry will only go from strength to strength. I just think the people fronting campaigns would differ and change so you need to be able to adapt and work with anyone (which as a photographer you should be able to anyway. If you aren’t a people person then you are in the wrong job or need to go into product photography or something).
This is why in 2018 I am trying to focus on more brand relationships and network and build relationships up that way and so I can work on more of my own brand campaigns rather than working with a brand but through an influencer. The only advice I can ever give to aspiring photographers is to never stop creating. I literally breathe, eat, sleep photography and I don’t ever stop creating. I never stopped creating when I was a student and haven’t done since.
Finally, Instagram or Twitter?
I love both for different reasons. Can I cheat and say that? haha I love Instagram stories and am so active on there. But I love Twitter and how supportive my following is on there and the fact you can basically post anything you want on Twitter and not lose your following.
Again, thank you for taking the time to answer these!
Yay! You’re welcome.