A Foot In The Door

Graduating in the wake of a global pandemic throws one more hurdle in the path of talented people eager to forge a career in the creative industries. And for those from backgrounds that are already underrepresented in the business, there are plenty of barriers in place.

Studio PI partnered with Creative Review to team up three of our talented photographers with emerging artists that were keen to follow in their footsteps.


A selection of projects from Chantel King 

Beauty and fashion photographer Chantel King was paired up with Tilda Rose Power, a recent graduate from the Digital Photography course at Ravensbourne.

As a black female photographer in a very white male dominated sector, Chantel has had to overcome many misconceptions.

She says: “A lot of people are surprised: ‘Oh, you’re shooting?’ They might assume I’m the make-up person, or speak to my assistant rather than me,” she explains. “The most important thing is to show confidence and not let them get to you. Own your shoot and the space. If you start to lose control and confidence, others will see through this – and you’ll lose their trust.”

King adds that some make-up artists and stylists still struggle when working with Black and brown features. “I’ve been on so many shoots where the model has had to do their own make-up or hair,” she explains. And there’s still inequality to overcome in the commissioning process, too: just two years ago, a magazine told her not to cast a Black model simply because one had featured on the cover the previous month.


A selection of projects from Brunel Johnson


Documentary photographer and film-maker Brunel Johnson teamed up with Tosin Goke who dropped out of school to become a stonemason before discovering his true passion for photography.

As a self-taught photographer himself, Brunel’s first foot in the door was as a studio assistant.

He says: “You have to be willing to start at the bottom. Some stay there, trapped in that zone, others progress because they want to ask questions and understand how things work. A shy student never learns.”

Brunel identifies the lack of readily available information for minority communities to progress in creative careers as a big hurdle.

“No one says what’s needed to get from point A to point B,” explains Johnson. “People either stumble upon it by accident, or you never really know what’s going on.” Studio PI has been a highly supportive influence on this front: “They show you exactly what you need to do to build yourself in the industry,” he explains. “You’re not stranded.”


A selection of projects from Martina Lang


Still life and conceptual photographer Martina Lang joined forces with with recent Norwich University of Arts graduate Emily Edwards, who shares her love of stylised food photography.

Martina’s advice: “Follow your gut, and allow yourself to get lost. Some things only make sense in hindsight. I never intended to shoot food, but I was drawn to it. Create your own path. And most importantly, don’t believe in people who don’t believe in you.”

Lang advocates looking outside of photography for influence: “I find inspiration in the chaos of the real world,” she says. “Online, you find what you need; in a bookshop, you find what you didn’t search for.”

She also advises to make the most of assisting roles; “Be there 100%, all day. Come with an assisting kit: a Leatherman, fuses, gaffer tape, clips, a whole array of things that might come in handy, and do your homework on call sheets. It helps to already know people’s names, so you just have to match them to faces,” she adds. “Then open your ears, open your eyes, be a sponge and soak it all up.”

Read the full article here.



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