In conversation with Emily Edwards, BA (Hons) Photography graduate
Images courtesy of Emily Edwards Photography
Why did you choose to study BA (Hons) Photography at NUA?
After attending an open day and seeing the campus I knew NUA ticked all the boxes that I was looking for in a university.
Something that really attracted me to the BA (Hons) Photography course was the knowledge that I would be taught by successful professionals in the photography field, and I was excited that I would be learning specialist skills from working practitioners.
I was also drawn to the campus and the city as it is bursting with creativity and gives you a great opportunity to make friends, collaborate and get inspired by everything around you.
What does a typical week look like as an Assistant Photographer?
Typically I am assisting on advertising campaigns, which involves either shooting food, drink or other still life. Before every project, it is my job to prepare the shoot to ensure that it runs smoothly: this involves organising the studio environment, setting up the camera and lighting equipment and ensuring we have the products, props and set all ready to go. I also act as a go-between for the client and creative team, which involves making the crew feel welcomed and looked after.
Then I repeat this 1,2,3,4 or even 5 times a week, which is great as I get to build so many professional relationships with clients, agencies, and stylists.
“Something that really attracted me to the BA (Hons) Photography course was the knowledge that I would be taught by successful professionals in the photography field, and I was excited that I would be learning specialist skills from working practitioners. “
Emily Edwards, BA (Hons) Photography graduate
What’s been your favourite project of your career so far?
Since starting in the industry just eight months ago, I am extremely lucky to have been involved in the making of so many advertising campaigns and editorials.
In particular, I have really enjoyed assisting on Domino’s Pizza, Cadburys and Robinsons campaigns, experiencing some of the cheesiest cheese pulls, model made chocolate chunks and appreciating the time that it takes to reapply labels perfectly to juice bottles.
What initially sparked your interest in food and drink photography?
I have always been interested in still life photography; however, at the start of my second year at university, I remember becoming obsessed with the graphical shapes and textures found within items of food I was buying at the supermarket. I started off experimenting with photographing fruit, such as papaya, on coloured background and working out how I could light food packaging such as glass bottles flatteringly. This all helped me develop my photography style, creating playful and colour sets to shoot food within.
How do you style your sets and where does the inspiration behind your colour choices come from?
I mostly style my sets using block colours, distinct lines/curves and graphical patterns. I create this vision through simple placements of coloured paper, 3D plinths, walls & arches, as well as graphical patterns such as digital illustrations, screen prints and typography. Architecture also influences the placements of these lines and curves, helping to structure each of my images graphically.
My colour choices are strategic- I typically gravitate towards vibrant, bold and energetic colours within my work through using monochromatic, complementary and analogous colour schemes, which helps give each shot balance and uniformity. Pop art and graphic design are two of my biggest influences that have allowed me to understand colour; making my work attract attention and convey energy.
How has your practice evolved since graduating?
The great thing about assisting is you are always learning lighting and styling tips from just observing the photographer.
Since graduating, I feel I have developed a much more professional approach through collaborating with other creatives within the industry, including food and prop stylists. For example, my technical skills within lighting have evolved, which has resulted my subjects being a lot more flattering. I have also worked alongside professional food stylists (rather than trying to style it myself) which has evolved the visual appetite of my shots.
“My colour choices are strategic — I typically gravitate towards vibrant, bold and energetic colours within my work through using monochromatic, complementary and analogous colour schemes, which helps give each shot balance and uniformity.”
Emily Edwards, BA (Hons) Photography graduate
What advice would you give to current Photography students looking to get their name out there?
Don’t shy away; keep contacting photographers or other creatives that inspire you and the ones you would like to assist. I would also recommend speaking to them directly if you can, as it shows you’re super keen.
Having a professional portfolio is also really important! It will coherently show off your body of work and help support any competitions you enter, applying for mentorships and if you want to attend portfolio reviews.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t pushed myself out of my comfort zone and built the confidence to form relationships with some incredible photographers and creatives.
You can see more of Emily’s work on his social channels:
"When I first started at NUA my work was mainly portraiture but the course has enabled me to develop my skills in still life photography – it really pushed me into finding my own photographic focus and style."