Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BEHIND THE LENS: CLAIRE PENN PHOTOGRAPHY, Chester UK

Once again we are featuring a photographer from across the pond. Claire Penn is natural light photographer based in Chester, UK.   Not only does she take amazing images of individuals and families but she also has a wonderful collection of fine art photography.  Check out her website and become inspired!  We sure are!

Your Name:  Claire Penn
Your studio/business name: Claire Penn Photography
Location: Chester, UK



Your Style:
  • In 50 words or less, how would your clients describe your photography?  One client said "With your fine art images what strikes me is the quiet thought behind them...you seem to ponder and wait until the perfect moment....and as for your portraits you capture tiny pieces of real in every image...never posed or staged ...just true moments of personality ...that is why I love your work."
  • Are you self-taught or classroom trained? Self taught – although I had training from a very early age… “fill the frame” is one of the earliest memories I have of my Dad!  He is an avid photographer and I used to help him (read: get in the way) in his attic darkroom.  These days I take a lot of workshops, watch a lot of tutorials and am part of a fantastic online network of photographers who teach and inspire each other every day.
  • How many years have you been a professional photographer?  I really don’t consider myself a professional yet!  I started doing portraits for friends and family in 2008 and it just grew from there.  I think this is the way it starts for many photographers – just a natural progression.
  • Where do you want to take your photography business in 5 years? I want it to be my job. My only job!  That’s the dream. Imagine being able to do what you love every day?  I can think of nothing better.
  • Is there a photographer who inspires your style?  Who would that be?  I’m sorry but there are so many...portrait photographers who inspire me are Gina Kolsrud, Pink Pixel Photography (Austria), Chasing Dreams Photography, Jo Rutherford (UK), Sarah Gardner (UK) and Sarah J Thomas (UK).  Fine art photographers whose work I adore are Shana Rae (Florabella), Irene Suchoki, Elle Moss and Sylvia Cook. 
  • Favorite location to take photos?  The beach.  Hands down.  There’s a beach near me in North Wales with amazing sand dunes, grasses and a beautiful old lighthouse complete with peeling paint. 
  • Favorite vacation spot?  Tough call… I’m not much of a sun worshipper so it would have to be a city break in New York or a return to Italy to discover more of Tuscany, Venice and finally visit Rome.   


Your Business:
  • What was the pivotal moment when you decided to become a photographer?  I have always loved photography (a clich√© I know, but true) but it was after I returned from my honeymoon (Italy) that I had my eureka moment.  I had taken some lovely photos on my £99 Kodak point and shoot and was rather pleased with myself!  I then joined Flickr simply to share our wedding photos with family and friends; and I was so inspired by the photos I saw there that I immediately sold my wedding dress to pay for my first SLR.
  • What’s the best marketing tip that has worked for you?  I have to say my friends, family and clients. They support me, they shout about me and you can’t really ask for better marketing than that.  Facebook has also been a fantastic way of getting my fine art images seen by a wider audience, I have sold prints to people in Austria, Australia and America… and other places than don’t begin with A.
  • What’s the most surprising thing a customer has asked you?  "How do I know the photographs on your website are actually yours?”  That went down well.  Needless to say with that kind of trust from the outset, I suggested that perhaps I wasn’t the right photographer for her.
  • Favorite print lab?I use a local lab – I like that I have that personal contact with them and control over what goes out to clients.


Your Gear:
  • Are you Canon or Nikon (or other”):  Olympus!  And I don’t think there are many of us about.  I quite like being the odd one out at workshops; it’s a great ice breaker.
  • If you could only have one lens on a photo shoot, what would it be?  My nifty fifty! 
  • What brand bag do you carry your camera in?  I have a Crumpler ‘Pretty Bella’ which I am fast outgrowing. 
  • What gear would we find in your camera bag?  My two Oly bodies, 50mm lens, 12-60mm lens, flash, spare cards and spare battery.
  • Are you a natural light fan or strobe fan?  Natural light, although I’m doing a workshop soon where I’ll get to play with flash and I’m excited to try something new.
  • Are you PC or Mac?  PC


Your Tips and Tricks:
  • What post processing tools do you use?  Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop – I love the Florabella actions.  On my fine art images I also tend to use a lot of textures (Florabella and Chasing Dreams).
  • Do you shoot in Raw or Jpeg?   Raw
  • Best advice you would give your 20-year old self?  Pick up a camera sooner… and listen to your parents more!
  •  Best advice you would give a new photographer? Join Flickr… participate, make friends, learn, share and be inspired… some of the photographers I met on Flickr are now friends and still some of my biggest inspirations.   That’s where it all started for me.
  • What site do you use for your photography and why? Big Black Bag – simple to use, great templates and fantastic customer service


What Else Should We Know?
  • What was your worst photography experience?  One family session was particularly tricky as the teens kept running off and actually hiding from me.  Tough crowd.
  • What would surprise people most about you, whether it is photography related or not?  That my first name is Julie.
  • Tell us something else you’d like us to know.  My other job is a Marketing Manager. 


And Just Because we want to know you, fill in the blanks......
  • Three things I can’t live without….Husband, family/friends, photography (ok that’s 4…)
  • I wish I had more…..Courage… to take that leap.
  • The best thing about being a photographer is…Seeing clients faces when they see THAT one extra special photo or have them tell you how much the photos I have taken mean to them.  
  • The most important lesson I ever learned was….From my Dad… “Keep one hand on your ha’penny and one foot on the floor at all times”
  • My favorite time of day is…... Dusk/twilight.


14 comments:

  1. I feel very honoured to have been mentioned by Claire on here as an inspiration as she hads always been one of my favourite photographerss. I love to watch her shoot....amazingly calm and she just seems to completely understand light and can capture it in ways I only dream of x

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  2. Great interview! I first bumped into Claire on flickr in 2008 and was immediately inspired... very talented lady x

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  3. ditto all of the above
    The way Claire see's things is just so much different to anyone else ....I love love love her work ...so much so it already hang's proudly in my home ....soon to be joined by another four of the most amazing fine art images of New York that I have ever seen... If you haven't already you sooo need to check out her ETSY shop ..it rocks nearly as much as she does x

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  4. I'm a proud owner of some of Claire's prints (coming from a country that does not begin with an A) and I met her on Flickr.
    Her work is marvellous and I'm so much looking forward to meet her in "the real life" x

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  5. What a wonderful interview from a super talented lady! I too feel very honored to have been mentioned by Claire.
    I started following her on Flickr years ago, and have been one of her biggest fans ever since!
    Now one day I'd LOVE to meet her in person and run around the streets shooting together!!

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  6. I want that heart shaped umbrella. =)

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  7. Claire your work is stunning - superb interview - take the leap woman - DO IT

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  8. This is such a wonderful honest interview, which shows Claire's true passion for what she does best - capturing the world around us and showing it in a new and more interesting way.

    Having worked alonngside Claire more than once its hard not to be inspired when you see her at work. Like Jo (Rutherford) Claire is also someone I regard highly, both as a photographer and a friend...., long may both last and improve.

    Paul : ) x

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  9. Claire is amazing I love that she shoots with an Olympus it's a great big kick in the teeth for those geeks who think that you have to use the biggest and most expensive piece of kit. Claire shows us that it's how you use it that matters. and no-one can use it quite like her. Lovely interview, thanks for sharing Claire or should I say Julie ??

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  10. Wow... I would just like to say what amazing friends I have made through our shared love of photography - thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot to me especially coming from you all.

    Thank you Tina and Kristina for asking me. Oh and Adriana - hands off the brolly!! :)

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  11. Great to learn more about you Julie Claire! Perfectly wonderful interview! loved it!

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  12. Claire is a fantastic person and her fine art prints are just wonderful. I'm just in awe of her shots of NYC.

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  13. I LOOOOVE your work Mrs. Claire Penn!

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Thank you for your kind words. We appreciate and read each and every one.