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Hello / Oi / Salut / ¿Qué tal? / Privet/ Ciao/ Hallo / Hai / Cześć, Witaj / Yō / Nǐ hǎo

Whether you’ve arrived here through my social media platforms, we met face to face or searched interesting google terms to arrive HERE (very interesting). I hope you get an insight into the commercial photography world and the work I do as an Assistant Photographer. At the end of each shoot, we hand over the highest standard of imagery using the latest technologies such as Capture One 20, Profoto and Hasselblad as well as other equipment and software which help us deliver the widest variety of photographic work to our clients.

Clients include Photographers: Suki Dhanda, Simon Lipman, Jenny Hands, Roger Keller for clients like The Guardian, The Observer Review, The Gentlemens Journal and The British Hair Awards

In each post, you’ll see projects I’ve worked on with various photographers in the industry. Spanning from still life to photojournalism. As an assistant with the aim of building a professional body of work myself, it’s important to me to have a wide knowledge of how photographers work and deal with various issues I expect to face in the future. 

Feel free to contact us for:

Assistant hire, capabilities and budget.

  • Recommendations for collaborations, eg. Stylists, makeup artists, producers as well as Photographers and videographers.
  • Recommendations for equipment and where to get them,
  • More on our service and the support you require for creative projects
  • And or just to talk about the industry because I know it can be a lonely place out there in the freelance world.

Speak soon,

Holly x

Featured

Suki Dhanda // Candice Carty Williams // The Observer Review

The Observer Review article / Suki Dhanda website

Anita Sethi’s interview feature on The Observer review website. Photograph by Suki Dhanda

Candice Carty-Williams is a British writer, best known for her 2019 bestselling debut novel, Queenie, which was bought by Orion after a four-way bidding war between publishers.

‘Sometimes, life can be stranger than fiction and you have to laugh about it’ Candice Carty-Williams photographed in London last month for the Observer New Review. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Observer
Light tests with Suki Dhanda for the Candice Carty-Williams feature for The Observer Review. Kings Cross, London

Photographer: Suki Dhanda

Assistant: Holly Taylor

Interviewer: Anita Sethi

I had the pleasure of meeting her alongside Suki in the Guardian’s studios in Kings Cross.
Suki was adamant on picking a colourama which suited Candice’s outfit. As an Assistant, this meant that this colourama change had to be done quickly and smoothly but once the talent had arrived in the small studio. Safety regulations have to be considered and communication with the photographer will be reduced so preparing the space beforehand and getting as much creative direction from the photographer you can beforehand the talents arrival ensures smoother operation.

‘Sometimes, life can be stranger than fiction and you have to laugh about it’ Candice Carty-Williams photographed in London for the Observer New Review. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Observer

A lot of being a Photographer is talking with the stylist, producers, interviewers and indeed the subject to achieve the mood they all want. As much as this sounds complicated, at the end of the day, you have a person in front of you who are their authentic selves and you wouldn’t want to manipulate that. Everything, is timing, a lack of distraction and trusting in your equipment. On this day, for instance, Candice asked to wear a grey hooded tracksuit to resonate with her young readers. Suki tested this and after reviewing the tests explained that visually this might not be as effective compared to the other items of clothing she brought with her.

If there’s one thing I have learnt from Suki, it’s to be decisive and communicative. Believing your creative decisions are better than others as the photographer and indeed the director of a shoot may rob you from a moment you need to tell the story as well as a fan and future client! Believe in your talent and don’t be afraid to explore outside the box. A lot of the time the trodden path is true to its word, so trust those who came before you.

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Alisa Connan // Suqqu // The Sunday Times

Suqqu Beauty website / The Sunday Times article

Georgie Hobday & Demi Moodie featured in The Sunday Times for Suqqu Beauty
Georgie Hobday & Demi Moodie featured in The Sunday Times for Suqqu Beauty

When shooting Alisa was entirely in her element, focussed on directing and her Canon MkIII. If I get the oppurtunity to assist her again I will be looking forward to gaining even more insight into troubleshooting and understanding feedback from different sources.

Alisa’s experience has produced a highly professional and inspirational professional. Working with her was so smooth, every issue was quickly solved. As a person who has only been in the industry for 2 years, it was truly an inspiration to see her talk and reflect with the Suqqu team over the shots and guiding her assistants (including myself) on how to get there. She allowed us to make mistakes, gave us feedback and allowed us to work it out ourselves. As a mother of a two-year-old she seemed to let the stress glide straight off her back, seeing the humour and best in everyone.

Me at my computer operating for Alisa Connan that day

As a Digital Operator it’s my job to ensure several things:

1. Communicate and understand the brief. Talk with the art director and the photographer ensuring they are achieving what they set out to do as a team.

2. Ensure the images are technically sound as they come through. Act as the photographer’s second eyes and flag any adjustments that need to be made to the photographer. My job is to find out what is going on, why and attempt to fix the issue as quickly as possible.

Georgie Hobday & Demi Moodie featured in The Sunday Times for Suqqu Beauty

3. Ensure the handover of the files to both the photographer and or the client is to brief and if there isn’t a brief then as clear as possible.

Holly Taylor on set for Alisa Connan and Suqqu Beauty at JJ Media Studios. Shoreditch, London

4. Be a good team player, support one another and respect everyone’s different roles, ask for help and give help in return. You only have a certain amount of time to get the job done and you only have these specially picked people to get it done. It’s important to create a positive culture.

Thank you to everyone, especially Alisa for bringing me along that day! It was amazing!

Suki Dhanda // Cornershop // The Guardian

Guardian article / Suki Dhanda website

Tjinder Singh photographed at an old petrol station on FIbbersley Road near his old home in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Observer

Cornershop front man Thinder Singh with band member Ben Ayres at an abandoned petrol station in Wolverhampton (near Singh’s old home). This was an eye-opening day, holding her Profoto B10’s in gusty wind and working closer than ever on the editing process on the train journey back, I learn a lot from her each time I work for her. On this occasion, it was:

  1. Keep a location reference archive. A list of locations which detail what, where and how to get there. Picture references also useful. When a location inspires you to do further work it is your natural instinct to try and remember it for future reference. By keeping a record of these locations you give yourself the best chance to use them again. Being a fountain of knowledge and fresh ideas in the creative industry can only get you further.

2. Always pack kit which allows for a change of creative direction. On this day, this was important. By bringing additional kit beyond your inital plan you are allowing yourself flexibility to think on your feet when the shoot on the day. Without the yellow and green gels Suki brought this day, this shoot wouldn’t have the same feel.

Cornershop’s Ben Ayres and Tjinder Singh photographed at an abandoned petrol station near Singh’s old home in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Observer

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your colleagues. As long as you communicate what you want to do most people are willing to help you get there. The shoot would have been a hazardous place if we didn’t receive help from the interviewer Jude Rogers and band member Ben Ayres for holding Suki’s kit against the wind whilst I was holding the lights.

Photographer: Suki Dhanda

Assistant: Holly Taylor

Interviewer: Jude Rogers

Suki Dhanda // Observer Review // Lazy Susan

Comedy sketch duo Celeste Dring and Freya Parker, AKA Lazy Susan featured in The Observer Review 2020 rising stars. Interview by Michael Hogan.

You’d better make damn sure as an Assistant to Photographers that you’re fit and healthy. This applies for all roles you undertake however in this one particularly, don’t doubt you’re going to be put in situations which will test your strength and trust in your team. On this day, I was hand holding a reasoably heavy light over the heads of the talent throughout the time of the shoot. Our kit wasn’t suitable enough to hold it at the ideal angle. I’m not saying I wasn’t able to do it, I had the muscle, just not gloves! My hands kept slipping on the pole and constantly needed readjusting.

Note to self: buy grip gloves.

Photographer: Suki Dhanda

Assistant: Holly Taylor

Jenny Hands // British Hair Awards 2018 Sally Brooks

Article / Jenny Hands / Sally Brooks

One of my first shoots assisting and it was for one of the most high profile photographers I have worked with yet. Photographer and Director Jenny Hands is inspired by the magic she sees in everyone. Capturing the beauty from all sides of life from joy to sadness and all emotions in between. This universal language of soul and connection is her aesthetic.

Sally Brooks is a nominee for HJ’s British Hairdresser of the Year at the British Hairdressing Awards 2018, sponsored by Schwarzkopf Professional.

Coming straight out of Studio Assisting at Loft Studios, West London. I was given the chance to assist alongside friend and colleague James Whitty. It was from this shoot I went on to learn so much about proper form and etiquette on set. A skill that is invaluable in any role. It’s best to stay calm, not to get too distracted or overwhelmed. Take a moment to breathe and hold your set firmly. The Photographer will be busy focussing on the creative, on her composition and communications with the clients and stylist. Everything else is you.

Hawassa Nights I. As the night draws in, the skaters find lit streets for the days last skating. If possible JImi helps feed those who are hungry and homeless at least one meal a day. © James Whitty

James told me so many stories of the experiences he’s had on set, they were very eye-opening to the profile of a Photographers Assistant. My main lesson: Every photographer will require something different from you. Each is unique and it’s in knowing them and their ways of working that will get you far, sounds simple, but when put into practice its a test of empathy, professionalism and skill at the same time. He, is an artist also, a true rebel and this reflects in his adventurous work in Hawassa, Ethiopia seen above.

The art of keeping your mouth shut.

I made the big mistake on my first assisting job to ask Jenny Hands if she ever thought about using elements of her professional work in her personal portfolio. I asked this question because I was curious where she gets her inspiration from, whether she maintains a personal body of work alongside her professional one and what is the relationship between the two if any. I hoped it would be a way to start an authentic conversation on the differences in practice and leadership in these two bodies of work. However, she didn’t take it in this way. I am saddened to admit she didn’t take this question well, she was outraged that I would ask such a thing and didn’t ask me back consequently. There was no way she would think about doing that, she said. And the look James gave me confirmed that I had said something wrong. In this case, and with most photographers I work for now I take the stance that observation is the best way to learn such things. Only after getting to know one another can you judge the limits at which you can discuss such intrinsic matters.

Photographs by Jenny Hands

Assistants Holly Taylor and James Whitty

Hair: Sally Brooks at Brooks & Brooks, London

Makeup: Lan Nguyen-Grealis

Styling: Ann Shore

Happy Endings Ice Cream // Katie Wilson

Photograph by Katie Wilson

Company: Happy Ending Ice Cream

Assistant Holly Taylor

Art DIrection: Katie Wilson

On the floor, at Happy Endings Ice Cream

Founded in 2014 by YBF Baking Award Winner Terri Mercieca, Happy Endings has turned the London dessert scene on its head. Their ice cream sandwiches and soft-serve combine modern and traditional techniques to create desserts that are bold in flavour, temper sweetness with savoury and balance textures.

One of my favourite shoots to date with a beautiful vintage ring flash. Katie has a way of making every job fun. Her skills are solid and her preperation for each shoot is impressive. Before each job I meet her at her house and we prep her kit, she gets out her notebook and I see drawings, notes, numbers lists. You can tell she enjoys her clients, getting to know them and after speaking to them she transcends this conversation into a creative vision fit for their brand. This shoot in particular, I feel illustrates this. When I say the ring flash was vintage, it practically boomed with a cloud of dust when she took the first shot. Hand holding it around her lens on the floor Happy Endings kitchen in East London I was mesmerized by the effect it gave, having never worked with one before. “Just perfect”, I thought, this is exactly them. The primary colours, the textured paper, the simplicity of composition complimented the ice cream sandwiches perfectly. How she does it each time amazes me, and the coolest thing of all is she makes it look simple.

Katie Wilson with Happy Endings

I have alot to thank her for, as much as I haven’t yet made it to where I want to be she has always encouraged me to show off my work and make more. She openly told me to celebrate and interpret the work of Photographers I like and respect the style which birth from it. Even offered use of her lights and kit for when I want to organize a shoot. She has such a story to tell and one day I hope she writes a book of her life and loves because I know it will truly inspire others.

Robert Taylor // Holly Taylor

One of the first photographic projects I wanted to do with my newly repaired Pentax 6×7 was one of my family. My brother is a typical guy, a Type 1 diabetic and a personal expert on nutrition. He stands here wearing only his pyjamas bottoms in his flat which he shares with his girlfriend Rachael. I wanted these pictures to be effortless, natural to his character he was quite camera shy but I just told him to move, naturally. “It will be over soon” I pestered.

Soru Jewellery // Michelle Beatty

Waitrose Mag // Ian Oliver Walsh// Naomi Lowe

Naomi Lowe on set with Ian Walsh for Waitrose Magazine. Hoxton, London

Ian is a London based photographer specialising in still life, product and cosmetic photography. His creative and unique style has earned him worldwide commissions from an array of luxury brands and publications for over 10 years. Ian’s expertise behind the camera is paired with a highly skilled background in post-production/retouching.

Naomi Lowe is the lead design force for branded content at Eye to Eye Media. Heading up a team of Art Directors and designers, she creates high-impact visual statements that bring brands to life.

I got to know Ian through Dennis Pedersen, a still life photographer known for his various features in Stylist Magazine, Grazia and Harrods. I assisted him full time in his amazing studio in Hoxton soon after I left being a Studio Assistant and the experience was valuable, to say the least. He describes his technique as a combination of “old school”, craft-based visuals with the “new-tech” retouching end, lead by Ian. Combining the two has created numerous powerful narratives in his work you simply couldn’t achieve anywhere else.

Ian Walsh for Waitrose Magazine

I was particularly impressed by his studio. It was clear from the start that this man tailors his space to such a sophisticated level you would be scared to move anything yourself without his tutorship. I was lucky enough to be one of those few. An 8×10 feet screen was hoisted to the ceilings which could be slowly lowered with two assistants. Crates of science equipment were kept at the back. Cupboards were full of framed diffusers, loads of tinted glass, viles, PVC. He had a huge work station, surfaced with a metal sheet (easy to clean) with pots of glue alcohol, tapes, triggers. This man and his whole family had style and loads of it. When I worked for Dennis, he was in the middle of renovating an abandoned water tower in Norfolk. It was clear through observing him that he has a special skillset for architecture, he was able to play with materials and movements in a space I had never seen before.