Claire Frances Photography
Hello, I'm Claire Frances a Lifestyle Portrait Photographer situated in leafy green Welwyn Garden City Hertfordshire.
I have four main loves in my life... family, friends, photography and sport. The camera is part of my life when it is with me...it is my point of view.
There has always been a creative streak in my family. My mother a fantastic florist and watercolour artist and my uncle was an enthusiastic transport photographer in the fifties and sixties.
I enjoy being entrusted with a brief and take pride in my work. For me it is a privilege to photograph someone. I like to document somebodies existence and the time we are all living in. I enjoy recording on my camera the way we see people and the world. I try to focus on what is important in a scene or to the person I am capturing. I often rely on my instincts but I am also patient enough to let things unfold naturally.
The relationship between the subject and camera is special, I like it when the subject embraces that, as it often leads to better images. Dialogue is important but we can communicate with words just with a gesture or with our feelings and our personalities. However, a client can really give me a photo and they do not have to be the most extrovert of characters or most photogenic to achieve this...they just need to want to show me a bit of their soul.
I like to work with all sorts of interesting people . Words, gestures and feelings can be fleeting but a photo can capture human emotion and translate that moment in that given time... into an everlasting picture.
As a child I started with a toy camera. It had no film but the pictures I took were recorded in my imagination. I moved onto many junior cameras in my childhood. At sixteen I started a weekend job and saved enough to purchase my own Film Canon DSLR with interchangeable lenses. It was the start of an incredible journey of imagery. Since then the professional grade kit list is as much a love as it is an obsession.
Claire Frances Interview Spring 2016
What do you like best about photography?
I am captured by the way we see people and the way other people see people or the world. I love learning from the great photographers of past and present. I enjoy analysing their work and comments which all hold such value and wonder to me.
I also find presenting images to clients really nourishing. As the photographer you know what you were thinking when you took it and what it represents to you, but how a viewer reads the picture...is up to them.
Three words that describe your shooting style?
Beautiful simple and honest.
What makes you sad about photography?
Pictures that never get printed, shared, seen and presented are a modern day shame.
If a professional photographer has been commissioned, a professional complete product finished by the photographer should be in the mind and budget of the client from the start of the photographic journey.
Another sad thing is the fact that we live in a throwaway society. Things can be fixed not everthing has to be new and have a short shelf life. Often old things have historical value and great workmanship. People are so quick to document their lives with social media they never take time to look at a picture before they take it, or for long enough after they have taken it, to appreciate it and to see it has true value.
What piece of kit would you love to have?
I already have a fantastic array of Canon Kit but there is always the desire to have more!
A vintage piece of kit I would like to acquire is Rolleiflex Camera.
Looking down into the viewfinder upside down and backwards but to be able to have eye contact with the person and to maintain that while talking to them and shooting really appeals to me! I also like the possibilities this could bring to street photography.
Leica MP TYP 240 Silver
This would be a dream too!
Canon EF 600mm F4 L ISII USM
What a great lens to take courtside!
How do you approach a camera shy subject?
I try and put them at ease, I just do what I do... and see if they like it. I try to respect their wishes, gain their trust and capture them in a candid style. Self-consciousness can break down the natural so I throw myself into it to the point where I am pretty much sponsoring the shoot but equally I give them space to relax.
It is important to me to go deeper and discover personalities and for the pictures to show a sense of who that person is.
Is it possible to see beauty in imperfection?
Yes. Also, it is worth saying that photography can take you beyond what your eyes can see if an image has enough impact.
What do you like most about the art world?
I like to look at a picture or painting and silently see if it talks. I like the historical value to the works over the years and how one person can see something and somebody else may interpret the same thing very differently . Art experts fascinate me with the knowledge and historical stories that highlight things in the painitng or picture you may have first overlooked or not understood.
In paintings and photography I also like fast read images that are quick to flag up the intention and message.
Unlike sport, there are no rules sometimes wrong is right and right is wrong. It helps you see the world around you like you may never have before. It encourages you to really see your surroundings.
What is important to you?
Light is everything in photography. I like to capture skin tone and complexion in a flattering way. For me gaining somebodies trust is important. I like to talk to people on a one to one basis. I like to find out what they want and then reverse engineer it so that the images meet the brief.
Fantastic image acquisition. Delivering a bespoke finished framed image to a client is my favourite thing to do. A client who enjoys having their photo taken is always a joy and those who may be a little more shy are always fun to work with too as we can really achieve flattering images which they may have thought would not be possible .
I like to listen to the clients feedback on the finished images , every individual has personal favourites for personal reasons. There is nothing more satisfying than experiencing the subject falling a little bit in love with the camera during the shoot and the finished images.
When showcasing my portfolio I like the viewer to look at an image and feel or want to be part of the scene .
When preparing the finished collection it is important I bring lots of moments together and get to the heart of the meaning. Once the client has their own set of images I value the narrative to a collection of photos.
I want the photos to create a feeling in the viewer that surpasses time and gives them the feeling it is living and breathing again. For me, it is important to give my clients a piece of memorabilia which has a sense of place which also reflects the people present and the moment they were in.
It is vital to get the shots that I know work, but equally, I like spontaneous shooting. If I am comfortable I know I need to think creatively again, capture what I see and make it unique! I make time to do this as it is very important to me to have pride in my work.
Backing up work will always be very important! Ensuring the photos I have taken of a clients session or event is a responsibility I take very seriously. Making sure the images are secure is a critical and time consuming part of my post prodution workflow.
Finally, it is important to me to convey the message "I am going to try and do right by you".
What do you think are your strengths?
I care. I am reliable.
I can read and concentrate on an event to capture the responses for the candid off guard natural images. I like to watch people love and live life and anticipate moments that are worth recording. At events I like to get a quick sense of who the people are and try to capture characteristics and gestures.
I can adapt quickly in changing circumstances.
Discipline. Benchmarking quality. It is important to want to pick up the camera everyday even though it is my job. I will never loose the enjoyment photography gave me before it was my profession.
I will perservere in difficult shooting conditions and will be determined to make the best picture I can in challenging or changing situations.
Preparation, planning and time management. I strive to make things as seamless as possible.
Organised work flow.
Using Contact Sheets.
Figuring things out.
Do you use second shooters?
I have a list of preferred colleagues and it's great to collaborate with likeminded, reliable fellow professionals on bigger commissions and events.