Today we are introducing the sweet Susie Thomas - the photographer of our GUCFS Model Introducing Shoot. Originally from London, she chose to add a Scottish twist to her academic curriculum when coming to study Economics and Music at the University of Glasgow. Currently in her third year, Susie enjoys capturing the world that surrounds her with her camera, and the least we can say is that she’s got really good at it! It was a pleasure collaborating with her on the shoot and we hope to do so again.
Here is what Susie had to say on photography and her experience working with GUCFS
How did you start taking pictures?
It’s odd because I am pretty sure my parents had a bunch of cool film cameras but never used them, they were not into photography that much. On my part, I would say I have always been curious and inspired by pictures. I mean, I have spent A LOT of hours scrolling through Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, it’s sort of my procrastination these days. When I was young I used to enjoy taking pictures of my holidays and I properly got into photography when I arrived at university, this is when I devoted more time to it and really improved.
How do you practice photography in your daily student life?
I look for any opportunity to get outside and try out some shots. I usually go out with some friends of mine and we have a little photoshoot – just for fun. They are the best, genuinely wishing for me to improve and they know how happy photography makes me. Another good opportunity to take pictures as a student is on nights out with friends. It makes the best memories of cool parties and sometimes the pictures turn to be quite useful when some of our minds are quite blurry from the night before (laughs).
Have you ever had the opportunity to work professionally in the photo industry?
It’s really difficult to be successful in this industry, I myself have never been remunerated for a job. I have helped out several student societies on campus to take pictures at their events but the photoshoot we did together to introduce the GUCFS models is by far the most professional shoot I’ve worked on so far. There are a lot of extremely talented and accredited professionals nowadays, I don’t have a photo certification so I have never really thought about doing photography to get money. Sometimes I wish I had taken photography for my A-Levels, my school had impressive facilities to take and develop pictures but I never got myself to do it. I guess I was wary of the impact it could have on my university applications for an Economics degree…
Did you enjoy the photoshoot you ran with Anne (our Creative Director) to capture CLICHES of our models?
Yes! I had so much fun at the photoshoot. I actually was pretty nervous because I had never done anything like it before. I had scrolled through your previous work and saw the photoshoots you had done before and really did not want to let you down, I wanted to produce my best work. I am extremely happy that the pictures turned out so well. Everything on the day went smoothly, Anne and other committee members were there to supervise the shoot which was nice because I could focus on the photos and what I wanted. I cared about depicting the personality of the models accurately so I focussed on taking shots with their natural resting face.
How did you manage to obtain this from the models?
It was quite interesting to be working with 25 different models. Some of them needed a bit of directions while others just went for it naturally. It’s important to give directions but equally, people’s personalities come across on the camera easily. Their resting facial expression should not be influenced too much by the photographer so as to have their personalities come out. I think that outside shoots also work really well for a first shoot, the atmosphere is more casual than in a photo studio and it helps people that have not modelled before to relax.
What photo equipment do you use?
I’ll be able to tell you which camera I use, but that’s about it (laughs). I mean, I use a Canon EOS 1300D and I just have two lenses at the moment - one that came with the camera, which is a macro lens (18-55mm), and one 55mm prime lens which I mostly use for portraits. I used a combination of both in the intro shoot to capture the different shots. I don’t get too caught up in the technical side of photography. I feel like the creative side of photography is often underrated, but a good photo is not just about how good your camera is, it is also about how good you as a photographer are at capturing things differently through the lens. At the moment, I usually play around with the settings of my camera. I might take hundreds of shots in an hour and only have a handful of shots that I am happy with. I guess it’s part of the learning process, but it’s part of the excitement too, random settings sometimes make the most peculiar pictures.
What photographers to do you look up to for inspiration?
My interest really lies in the photos more than the photographer themselves so I would not know too many names. However, there is this street fashion photographer that I closely follow. Her name is Vicky Grout, she is really cool, shooting portraits on 35mm film and the pictures she takes are really interesting. I highly recommend going on her Instagram to check out her work. I also shoot film as she does, the work is much more precise because you cannot take too many photos and have to try and get it right the first time. My film camera was only £20 and there are hardly any settings at all but it is my best friend on nights out.
What is your favourite piece of work so far?
Oh, this is a hard one (laughs), there have been quite a few I have been happy with. But I would probably say that I am probably the most satisfied with the black and white portraits I took of my friends in the Botanics a few months ago, they are on my Tumblr if you want to check them out! I have other cool ones that I took this summer while travelling in Japan, they turned out really well, that actually makes me think I still have to put them up online.
Any piece of advice to give to someone eager to start photography?
I think people are often put off by the price of cameras nowadays. It’s a shame, I think that you do not need to have the latest camera to start taking good-quality pictures. There are loads of second hand cameras you can find in Glasgow for really cheap, you will be surprised how good they are. Likewise, there are now a lot of compact cameras on the market that are affordable and will enable you to practice and get the grip of the basic settings before investing in a more complex camera if you really get into it. Something that really got me going as well when I started was to be able to share my photos with people. I would suggest starting with a buddy, it makes it so much more fun and you will definitely improve quicker.
Many thanks to Susie for her time and precious words during this lovely interview. Keep an eye out for upcoming new collaborations between her and GUCFS. And in the meantime, we highly recommend checking out her tumblr and instagram.
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