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Life of Alumni: Fashion Photographer Surbhi Jain on freelancing and finding your artistic voice

MA Fashion Photography alumna Surbhi Jain completed the course in 2018 and has since been interning as a Product and Fashion Photographer, alongside her collaborative freelance projects. Surbhi spoke to us about her experiences, advice for new photographers and exploring artistic themes in her work.

Your work has been published in several different outlets. Could you tell us about your process for creating and pitching content?

I usually try and create some work for my own portfolio. If I'm inspired by something, I write it down in my journal and try and reference accordingly. Then I would make a mood board and send it out to some creatives who would like to work with me on the project, and we shoot the concept.

There are a lot of digital magazines and various sites where you can have your work published. Submit to them by email, and if they like your work they can publish it for you in print or online.

How are you finding the collaboration process?

I really like that it gives a chance for experimentation and involvement within different aspects of fashion photography. You get to sit down with the model, make-up artist and designer, exchange ideas on what the shoot is about, work out mood boards. I worked with some LCF students who are graduating and wanted a photographer to shoot their collection. It's a fun process!

Can you tell us about the workshop you ran for LCF freshers?

Yes, I did a fashion photography workshop with students from different fields like fashion styling and creative direction. We looked at what physically goes on in a fashion shoot, how to shoot a model, building a portfolio etc.

What advice did you offer to the new students?

The main bit of advice was that university is the time to make mistakes.

Whatever you do, you can develop your own style, experiment, fail and try again.

Working professionally is different. New students should definitely experiment, make mistakes and keep going forward.

What was the highlight of your degree?

The course allowed me to approach fashion photography from a deeper perspective by pulling me away from the commercial aspect of photography and pushing me more towards the artistic side. That's what I really enjoyed about the fashion photography course – I got to develop my own original style of photography. I also liked our trips, particularly New York as we went to see the Richard Avedon Foundation, his studio, all his archives and everything. If I didn't do this course I don't think I would have ever had the chance to look at Richard Avedon’s original negatives!

Could you tell me about your favourite piece of work that you’ve created?

I think where I really peaked in my thinking and my artistic side of fashion photography would be during my MA final project shoot – Social Creatures – which was based on constructing a personality as a human being, how other people see us and how we think we see ourselves. How do you construct your social identity? I really like that project because I had a team of 18 people which involved six/seven models, make-up artists, videographers, stylists and designers. Social Creatures is where I really pushed myself, which is why it’s my favourite piece of work.

Do you have a particular theme that you're interested in exploring through your photography?

My work is fashion, but it always has an undertone of fine art photography. It's not just a model or a face, it always has some meaning behind it. My personal style definitely has an undertone of fine art and lots of symbolism.


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