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Interview with Photographer James Fickling

Originally from the North of England, Photographer James Fickling moved to London 8 years ago to pursue a career within the creative arts.

“I went from working as a product photographer, retoucher and now to a studio production manager. It’s been a whirlwind of a career – London is definitely the place to be!”

The brief for his new series ‘Colour Pop’ came from the desire to create a shoot focused around tailoring and James’ love for capturing unique lighting effects.

“I’m majorly inspired by Calvin Klein campaigns and they are my go-to for visual references. The Platinum Ad Campaign for FW14/15 was the starting point and it just went from there.”

James began his career in photography shooting models right after his post-secondary graduation. Purchasing a DSLR camera encouraged him to approach models online to collaborate with.

“I was previously too shy to approach people. I grew up around beautiful picturesque landscapes so finding locations wasn’t a problem. I would shoot as much as possible, and through retouching my own work I learnt what I was doing wrong and how I needed to improve.”

With a background in contemporary fine art James didn’t have much technical training in photography, aside from a few wet printing workshops. It was his determination to take it upon himself to listen and learn from the people around him that improved a wider technical knowledge.

“As my background is in fine art I often take inspiration from things outside of photography. My creative process is usually sparked from seeing something that I haven’t seen or done before. This has been a driver for most of my photography career, as I prefer to shoot with models that I tend not to see within my full time job as a studio production manager for a womenswear fashion brand.”

James begins developing his shoots by collating stories of images, either found on the web, pictures over taken while sightseeing, or with a particular colour swatch. He then takes into consideration models he’d like to see photographed in that concept and often collaborates with the model to produce the result. He enjoys expanding their portfolio with collaborations to produce images completely different to anything in their portfolio or to differ from what they usually get booked for.

“I believe the best work is a team effort of creatives collaborating on one common end goal.”

A driving force in James’ creation is showcasing a diversity with the models he works with because of the lack of representation.

“My series entitled SPECTRUM showcases a range of skin tones of male models that identify as black. I’d like people to understand that beauty comes from diversity, and that my images pay respect to the people that I choose to work with.”

James is a strong believer that surrounding himself with other creative people and starting conversations can lead to future prospects. And there have been numerous jobs or collaborations that on paper seem to have no benefit, but as a result of saying yes to them James has been presented many more advantageous leads and jobs.

Another valuable piece of advice James reflects on was from his Dad, who said:

“There’s nothing more valuable you can give somebody than your time.”

James has celebrated some amazing highlights in his career including creative direction, consultancy and production for some major brands such as Belstaff, Jimmy Choo, Bally, The Body Shop and Versace.

However, James says that it was a shoot for Black History Month Magazine that, even though wasn’t his biggest achievement in terms of exposure, it was the positive feedback he received from people around the world about his work, respectfully showcasing black models and black culture, that gave him a real boost to keep on his own path and not worry about doing what everybody else is doing.

© 2019 Merrymen Magazine.

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