INTERVIEW – Charlie Clift

Posted on April 25, 2012


Firstly I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions

What Inspired you to do photography?
I guess I have always been creative, and have tried a lot of different arts in my time but found that not much suited me. Then in a year off from University studies I finally bought myself a proper camera and fell totally in love. After playing around with it for a while I realized that my skills with people help me greatly as a portrait photographer. Upon finishing my degree I dived into a career in photography and it’s going pretty well so far. My inspiration to be a photographer is simply to have fun making images. I get to meet fantastic people and do silly things with them. There aren’t many professions which allow people to do that.

I find some of your portraits ‘surreal’ can you explain (aside from the synopsis given on your website) why you have chosen to compose them as you have?
I’m not sure about the word surreal, maybe quirky would suit my feelings about my images better. I find that ‘straight-up’ images often don’t tell a story quite as well, it’s nice to say a lot in a single still image so by having complex compositions or including things that might not otherwise be there you can say a lot. Plus most photographers take portraits of people sitting and standing in a really obvious locations and poses. Why not make your subject do something interesting and different. If you are standing by a pool – get them to jump in, if they own loads of cats – get all the cats in the frame, if they breed pigs – get them to lie in the hay with them.

How do you come about new ideas and projects for yourself?
Well I’ve tried forcing it with projects and it never works. I can brain storm ideas for a specific shoot, often bouncing around ideas from a theme and from research. But this only works if I know who I am shooting first. But you can’t brainstorm a first idea for a project unfortunately. I find that just being interested in what is around me and trying to focus on the things I found fun and interesting leads to project ideas coming up. I’m not worried about entertaining ideas that seem completely stupid to start with. For example when I first thought about photographing someone without talking to them at all it felt totally stupid, but the more I allowed myself to think about it the more I thought it would work. I ended up having great fun taking my Silent Portraits and got some interesting images and a nice story from it. Personally I just love interesting people, the more interesting the better. So any excuse to take photos of them is good for me. I also enjoy playing with people and manipulating them a bit whilst I photograph them, so other projects of mine have been looking at that.

 What tips would you have for finding clients to work with and getting your portfolio recognised?
Keep at it. I haven’t got any fancy marketing skills or tips. The best tip I can give is to try and produce interesting work that excites you, and do this as regularly as possible. I can’t think of much worse than spending ages hassling someone to see you and then going to see them and having nothing to say. Make sure you enjoy your work and want to tell others about it because you find it so exciting. The other thing is never feel it’s not worth contacting someone, they can always so ‘no thanks’ but they just might say ‘yes’. If you want to shoot fashion for Vogue – call them and introduce yourself. You just might get lucky.I keep my marketing personal, much like I do with my photoshoots. I like to get to know people and get them to remember me. So I research people a lot, contacting people over the email and phone, but ultimately trying to meet them in person for a chat. Once you have done that then they will remember you and remember your work. Then all you need to do is keep them up to date. It sounds great, but it takes ages to do – you normally have to call at least 10 times before they pay any attention to you.

Any last words for university students such as myself?
Have fun, enjoy photography and work out what it is that you like about it. Invest as much of your time as possible into producing interesting images that really connect with you – not just images that look cool, or look a bit like another photographer. It’s about finding yourself ultimately I guess, and the best way to do that is to play around and see what happens.

To view more of Charlie Clift’s work, Click Here:

To view his blog, Click Here:

To follow him on Twitter, Click Here:!/charlieclift

–           Interview hosted by Tom Coghill, Administrator of ‘Cogtography’

© 2012 T.Coghill Photography All Rights Reserved

Posted in: Interviews