Spotlight Interview … Fashion Photographer Katriena Emmanuel

Everyone please welcome Fashion Photographer Katriena Emmanuel to James Robinson Photography Blog. Thank you Katriena for sharing your thoughts and images with our readers. Where do you call home?

Katriena Emmanuel: The sunny (well most times) Gold Coast, Australia since migrating from my Caribbean country of birth, Trinidad and Tobago in 2004.

JRP: What led you to fashion photography? Do you have any formal training in your background?

Katriena Emmanuel: I’m completely self-taught and only really got interested in digital photography in 2009 when I was searching for a change in career from the legal field which I worked in at the time. Having always been artistic growing up, sketching designs for gowns, swimwear, painting, crafting, I think it was a natural progression into fashion photography. I could put into print what I imagined in my head a lot quicker than the time it would take me to draw or paint it.

JRP: Name two photographers that have inspired you and helped to shape your approach to photography?

Katriena Emmanuel: That is seriously a tough one. I’m constantly inspired by new and old /great photographers alike. If I had to pick two that from the beginning of my journey had inspired me I’d have to definitely say Laura Ferreira, a photographer from my country of birth, Trinidad and Tobago and Tim Walker.

Laura is a completely self-taught photographer and her work is mind-blowing when you consider she’s learned it all by herself. That for me was my main source of inspiration and impetus to give photography a go. I couldn’t afford at the time to study a new career so I thought I’d give photography a go, teaching myself and hoping to one day be as brilliant as Laura Ferreira.

Tim Walker was another photographer I remembered growing up. He produced imagery that you thought only existed in fairy-tales,  and I connected with his work on that level. I love the blending of surrealism with realism in photography. The way he does everything in camera to scale, and the building of props and sets is so impressive. This is the photographic style that I hope to one day to be able to achieve.

JRP: How important are personal projects in the development of a photographer’s style and growth?

Katriena Emmanuel: Absolutely crucial to the development of a photographer’s style and refinement, whether they be self-taught or academically trained. You learn so much more from trial and error, and experimentation. Hopefully, in time and with enough personal projects a photographer figures out what they like in their own distinct style.

The way to do that is through the freedom of organizing projects not dictated by a client’s direction or vision but your own and just seeing where it takes you. Personal projects have always been a source of self discovery for me. Whether it’s stumbling across a new tool in Photoshop or pushing the limits of my imagination and resources I can refine my skills.

JRP: Do you maintain a studio or do you rent one when needed?

Katriena Emmanuel: I’ve set up a studio in my home garage. I pack it away in my living room when not shooting, so at least I can still park the car in the garage afterwards.

JRP: What would we find in your camera bag for a typical shoot in studio or on location?

Katriena Emmanuel: For a studio shoot, my camera bag would contain my Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm, light meter and Elinchrom Skyport transmitter. Outdoors I replace my Skyport transmitter with a speedlight (which to be honest I hardly use outdoors). I prefer to control natural light without the use of flash. Personally I think flash kills it. Sometimes I’ll take my Lensbaby composer outdoors, depending on the style or look I’m going for.

JRP: Do you prefer working with artificial or available light? What are your most used light modifiers?

Katriena Emmanuel: I personally prefer natural light. I think there is a magic and spontaneity that you can’t get with artificial / controlled light. A lot of people often tell me they prefer my outdoor on-location shoots rather than my studio ones. That said, I do enjoy learning and working with the more controllable artificial light. I tend to keep it simple often using one light source. A soft box or a beauty dish depending on the purpose of the shoot.

JRP: Please describe your still digital work flow and the software you use?

Katriena Emmanuel: At the moment I just use Adobe Bridge and CS4 Photoshop.

JRP: Image printing, how do you handle that?

Katriena Emmanuel: I send the digital files to a local photo lab with whom I’ve calibrated my computer to match their printer’s settings.

JRP: When you look through the viewfinder what is the most critical moment in the capture of your images?

Katriena Emmanuel: The moment that everything aligns itself as one. When the subject, the environment, the light, the setting, props, and whatever it may be at the time fall into place as one. That is when I press the shutter.

JRP: Currently what changes are driving the fashion market place, and how have you adjusted to these trends?

Katriena Emmanuel: It’s clear how potent the web has become to the fashion industry. It has brought new ways for designers, photographers, etc., to showcase their work and sell their goods and services. The technology is constantly changing and upgrading. We have to find new and more exciting ways to wow our online audiences.

The web and digital technology has also made it more affordable for emerging artists to get into the industry. This in some ways makes it more saturated and competitive than it would have been fifteen years ago. For me, I try to keep up with it as much as possible by using the social media sites to help promote myself and expand my audience but it can be very time-consuming. I think I would rather be working on my photography skills than my social skills online, but it seems unavoidable nowadays.

JRP: What seems to be the biggest obstacle to over-come in building a client base?

Katriena Emmanuel: For me the biggest obstacle is actually finding / meeting clients in the first place. Partly this could be because I’m a bit of a home-body and I’m not getting out and rubbing shoulders at social events. Most of the ones that seem to find me usually want it for free or dirt cheap, “Because my cousin has a digital camera and can take great photos like you”, is how they usually try to bargain. At the end of the day it’s about reaching and attracting clients to your work who value what you do. Whether they identify with your style of work, respect your work ethic, or click with your personality you are able to capture their vision.

JRP: If not fashion photography what would Katriena Emmanuel be doing with her time?

Katriena Emmanuel: Probably still stuck at a desk in a law firm until that drove me crazy enough to try another artistic venture like fashion design or styling.

JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?

Katriena Emmanuel: To be honest I’ve never received direct/ personal advice from another photographer but I’d have to say the best advice I’ve ever received is from my Granny. I think it applies to not just photography but everything in life. She tells me all the time, “Put love into everything”. Once there is love, you are no longer fighting it. It will just all fall into place. I believe this to be true!

JRP: What advice would you like to share with photographers starting out?

Katriena Emmanuel: My advice is practice definitely improves you. So keep shooting as much as you can and be your toughest critic.

JRP: Thank you Katriena for sharing your thoughts and images with us. We wish you continued success.

To view more of Katriena Emmanuel’s photography please follow this link:


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