At home in the Bahamas with India Hicks
What makes a beautiful image? What are the key ingredients?
Genuine emotion is the key to a beautiful image so when one looks back, the feeling of that moment is accurately brought to life again. Combined with soft natural light and a clean composition, at the core, there is an unspoken trust between me and the subject. “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything” — Aaron Siskind.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers out there?
Look after yourself! Get lots of sleep, especially the night before a shoot. Photography can be deceptively demanding – physically and mentally. Devoting yourself to the job, being 100% present to capture the unique and often unexpected moments as they occur. At the end of the day guard those precious memory cards with your life! Personally, I shoot to two cards in case one fails. I literally sleep with one set after returning home late at night from a wedding.
What time of day is your favourite time to shoot?
Late afternoon on a still day in Autumn is irresistible. The beautiful backlight and long shadows give a warm feel to images. Even though early morning traditionally provides great light, I tend to think it’s a little unfair on faces and sleepy eyes! Tired parents especially don’t seem to ‘iron out’ too early…or am I just speaking for myself?
Where is your favourite place in the world to shoot?
Definitely, a place that involves a beach with sparkling aqua water, preferably palm trees, and if I’m really lucky, some sea turtles. Not coincidentally those attributes perfectly sum up Harbour Island, The Bahamas – my favourite place in the world. I’m looking forward to sharing the island experience and its warm and friendly locals at my photography retreat in July next year (for more details head to my website).
How would you describe your role as a photographer?
“One doesn’t just make a photograph with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved” – Ansel Adams. I see my role to observe and watch the tiny nuances of life that unfold yet often go unnoticed. I am by nature very inquisitive which probably drove my parents crazy. The same object can be viewed in so many different ways and I very much try to see and feel ‘out of the box’ in a way that can tell a deeper story behind the obvious. For me, I feel my role as a photographer is one of nurturing a feeling of authentic comfort with my clients. I believe in gut feel and intuition. This relaxed connection brings out their emotions naturally.
Do you have a favourite camera?
For professional use I use two Canon DSLRs with my favourite the 70-200mm IS lens. The zoom allows me to unobtrusively stand further away from the action without interfering with the natural flow of events. In my personal life day to day, I take photos on my iPhone8+. The portrait mode is amazing. But ultimately the “best camera” is the one that you captured an otherwise lost moment.
What, or who, do you love photographing the most?
I love photographing day to day life, not curated or contrived. I particularly enjoy photographing ‘a day in the life’ of people, for example, the extraordinary and energetic India Hicks or the insightful illustrator Kate Knapp (Twigseeds). Weddings stand alone as a unique blend of love, celebration and human interaction – and, as I often get asked, no, I can honestly say I have never had a bridezilla.
How, in your opinion, has the photography landscape changed over the last decade?
There are more photos being taken than ever before but my concern is that this generation will have the least to show for it. Despite the quantity, digital images are rarely printed and can often be lost, or devices corrupted. Each year I endeavour to collate a snapshot of my family’s life – warts and all, in a printed book. Assistance with preserving and printing digital images is a common request during my one on one tuition so they can enjoy their own beautiful images in their home.
How do you juggle work with motherhood? What kind of support do you have?
Even though I have two sons at university and one daughter at school, I like to be present for those day to day unplanned conversations that can often be some of the most important. It helps that my studio is separate to our house and is a peaceful sanctuary where I can immerse myself in my work. I like to use a lot of home delivery or service companies such as YourGrocer & Dryz for dry cleaning and ironing.
Talk us through a typical morning in your home…
My husband leaves home soon after 7.30 and drops our daughter at the tram on his way to work. With the other two children at university, there is no longer such a thing as a predictable morning, as there used to be when the three were at school all day. With university lectures and part-time work, their comings and goings now seem endless. After exercise, I whip the house back in shape and adjust plans for the rest of the day before heading into my studio.
How do you unwind at night?
We try to have as many family meals around our large American Oak dinner table (Artveneta). This can be a great way to unwind although sometimes it can wind one up depending on the various conversations and dynamics at play! I enjoy listening to audiobooks in bed although I end up missing large chunks because I’ve fallen asleep before the end of the chapter!