United Kingdom photographer, Claudia Rose Carter, is a woman I think most moms will relate to. With genuine and refreshing honesty, Claudia shares her thoughts about balancing motherhood, creating meaningful and inspiring photography, as well as, nurturing and building several business ventures with her partner, Gary. I had the pleasure of meeting this innovative and fearless artist in March when I attended a DARE Photography Workshop in London…I confirm that she’s just as lovely, if not more so, in person.
You changed your name in 2010…why? I was inspired by Gala Darling’s blog post about her name change and choosing a different life for herself (check it out here.) Also, I love Johnny Cash and June Carter, as well as alliteration and wanted something more memorable.
You have several different business ventures. What are they? Claudia Rose Carter Photography and partner in Dare Photography Ltd. (which incorporates workshops and the Initiative space) with my partner Gary of Marshal Gray Photography.
How many years have you been a photographer? 11 years, although I’ve only been working full-time for 5 of those years. It’s my livelihood, but a hobby too. It’s amazing that I’m able to combine them!
Would you consider yourself a wedding photographer, portrait photographer, both or other? I shoot weddings and portraits but I aim to incorporate landscapes, still life, and fashion all into those.
Are you self-taught or did you have a formal education? Completely self-taught. I left school early to work in a music studio in Edinburgh, Scotland. Through this I would roadie with the events band on the weekends. My boss bought me a camera and asked me to take some promotional material shots. So many of the events I was shooting were weddings…I became fascinated with watching these stories unfold.
Do you do destination photo shoots and where have you traveled? Norway, Scotland, Egypt, New York, Rhode Island, France, Italy, and Spain. I’m in Thailand this year. So far, Sri Lanka is the most incredible place I’ve been photographically.
What turns you on creatively? What turns you off? What turns me on creatively is being free from expectation…both my own and those of others. I’m confident in my weddings and feel so honoured that my couples don’t really expect anything in particular from me other than to capture their day as genuinely and beautifully as I can. Also, I’m working a lot more this year on playing with cameras, playing with different lighting and pursuing personal work to keep me floating. What turns me off creatively is really a lack of time. I’ve balanced looking after my son with working full time for the past two years. It has been a lot more difficult than I thought it ever would be. He is now in Montessori nursery more regularly so I’ve recaptured some additional time for experimenting.
Do you attend photography workshops and how do you feel about them? I have attended a very small handful of workshops. Working alongside Gary on DARE always keeps me on my game as so much of the information shared at the workshops is genuinely the way we live our life. We are constantly on the edge of our toes and taking risks. This past April I went to Way Up North in Rome, Italy. It was really incredible as it reminded me to continue to question why I do what I do in all areas of my business. It encouraged me to refine and find clarity and to be confident, which is something I haven’t made important in quite a while.
Do you have a camera at hand at all times or would you say you set specific time for photography and personal/family time? No, but I am working on changing that this year as I’m shooting more film. I find with digital I’m always looking for there to be a certain outcome…to create that image that’ll get a lot of likes on Facebook so that I’m thrown into being ‘known’. So silly, and I’m just honest about that. With my film camera it’s so much more about the act of taking the image…I can just relax and document my day and my children in the way I want.
Have you been influenced by other photographers? Who are they and how have they influenced your thinking and photography? I’m influenced by everyone and everything I see whether I like it or not. I try to keep what I see to being as positive as possible. I’m currently making a switch from facebook to Instagram as it feels more targeted towards my needs and style. Without getting mushy, Gary has always influenced me simply by being such a dreamer and a risk taker, which is constantly inspiring and terrifying in equal measures. Don McCullin is the reason I was fascinated by photography in the very beginning and I’m always inspired by images that make me FEEL something.
How did you go from being an aspiring photographer to doing it full time? Having jumped in at the deep end is the honest answer to that. I had recently met Gary and he had taken a redundancy from his job which afforded us a few months of living money to work on photography full time and to see if we could make it work. We photographed every day and sent as much as we could to wedding blogs, all of which were a huge support to us both when we were starting. Its now five years later and we haven’t looked back.
Tell me about your photography brand. I rebranded totally in 2013, and it took around 6 months of planning and collating ideas before Gary even went to work on the building the site itself. I used Pinterest to create a board of everything design/art related that I wanted to incorporate on my site and each week I would take images out of it; refine it totally. I grew up on a farm and nature is very close to my heart so I had some illustrations done of an acorn, a tree and a branch as well as the rose which is the ‘o’ in my middle name. I wanted it simplistic so I kept the colour scheme black, white and grey with pink as a splash of zest within it all. Recently, I redesigned my site as I wanted it to feel a little more accessible for my couples and not so ‘artistic’ and abstract in the way it was before. I always recommend to photographers that they not rush into any changes, and to work with a very talented designer.
Film, digital, both? Film and digital. Everything and anything. Just play. Don’t limit yourself to one tool to practice your craft. That would be the same as a builder only ever using a hammer and nothing else. He won’t ever learn anything new.
How do you process your images? I use Photo Mechanic to cull, Lightroom for pretty much everything…I use VSCO presets and then tweak them to suit the image). I use Photoshop for more refined adjustments if necessary.
Do you have an insecurity when it comes to photography and if so, does it help or hurt you creatively? My insecurity is that I haven’t pushed it enough. I haven’t felt uncomfortable enough. I haven’t broken through that to the degree that I want. I know when I’ve gone all out and achieved something I thought unattainable…I rarely do that. It keeps me focused though and motivates me to work hard.
What would be your dream photography experience? To work with a charity in a part of the world that needs documenting to help spread awareness and encourage support. I was accepted into a program in Nicaragua working with women creating businesses from home but, due to parental responsibilities, I was unable to attend. I will be applying again in the future.
What is one of the most exciting days, or shoots, you’ve ever had as a photographer? I’ve had so many amazing experiences through photography but I would have to mention two in particular… traveling to Sri Lanka and to Cairo in 2015. I’m obsessed with seeing the world. Being able to relive those experiences through my photographs means a lot to me.
What do you try to convey in your photographs? I always aim to convey honesty. I want my images to make people feel something. If I capture a moment genuinely, I’ll be closer to inviting the viewer inside the image.
If you could have your portrait taken by any photographer, who would it be and why? I would love to have my portrait taken by Oli Sansom. He actually did take my portrait but not in an official setting. I would love to be the subject in a full blown shoot with him. His work is always so intriguing…I feel he would capture that in me.
If you could take a portrait of one person in the entire world, who would it be and why? I would love to take a portrait of actor, Tom Hardy…for so many reasons.
Does music influence your artistic creation? What are you currently listening to on your iPod? Music massively inspires me creatively and it can change my mood in a second; which then affects the way I shoot. Currently, I’m listening to Macklemore’s latest album on repeat. His music, artistry and his words make me feel everything all at once.
Are there any projects you’re working on that you’re really excited about? I’m working on so many different projects! Gary and I have just opened our photography studio which serves as an event space, exhibition space, and creative working space in London. We’re firing on all cylinders getting it into excellent shape. I’m working on getting people involved in that, exploring the local area, getting to know the neighbours, and creating a buzz about it. I’m also launching a bi-monthly supper club called DARE TO EAT which incorporates different themes, menus, cocktails, music and creative networking. With my photography I’m working a lot more this year on a men’s portrait series and also working on videos with bands in and out of the studio. Plus, it is a constant project trying to teach my son how to be a mini gentleman!
Do you ever get stuck creatively and what do you do to get unstuck? I think everyone gets stuck creatively…like writers block, right? I just shake it out, literally! I do something different….go to the gym and run really, really fast, start a daily photography project, take a day off and leave my phone at home, and give completely undivided attention and time to my family. My advice is to do the opposite of what you are currently doing. Meditation is good too…download the app 1 Giant Mind and get lost in it (here’s a link).
What should we know about you that might change our lives or give us something to think about? I don’t have any formal training. I left school when I was 15. Between the ages of 11 and 15, I really didn’t spend much time at school anyway. I spent quite a bit of time going down a completely different path. I’m really not the poster girl for being successful. But through diligence and hard work, creating my own self confidence, and putting myself out there I have a business I love, a beautiful family and an abundance of everything I could want. Anyone can do this. ANYONE can do what they love. You have to stop focusing on what you think the right way to do it is and just DO IT.
Do you have a favorite quote that motives you or speaks to your heart? “In fact a mature person does not fall in love, he rises in love. The word ’fall’ is not right. Only immature people fall; they stumble and fall down in love. Somehow they were managing and standing. They cannot manage and they cannot stand – they find a woman and they are gone, they find a man and they are gone. They were always ready to fall on the ground and to creep. They don’t have the backbone, the spine; they don’t have that integrity to stand alone. Two mature persons in love help each other to become more free. There is no politics involved, no diplomacy, no effort to dominate. How can you dominate the person you love? Just think over it. Domination is a sort of hatred, anger, enmity. How can you think of dominating a person you love? You would love to see the person totally free, independent; you will give him more individuality. That’s why I call it the greatest paradox: they are together so much so that they are almost one, but still in that oneness they are individuals. Their individualities are not effaced – they have become more enhanced. The other has enriched them as far as their freedom is concerned. Immature people falling in love destroy each other’s freedom, create a bondage, make a prison. Mature persons in love help each other to be free; they help each other to destroy all sorts of bondages. And when love flows with freedom there is beauty. When love flows with dependence there is ugliness.” Osho
Website – www.claudiarosecarter.co.uk
Portrait website – www.portraitsbyclaudiarose.com
Instagram – claudiarosecarter
Facebook – facebook.com/claudiarosecarterphotography
Pinterest – https://uk.pinterest.com/claudiarcarter/
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/c/claudiarosecarter