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Interview with Sheffield Photographer Ellie Bell

After the many trials and tribulations that we navigated in 2020, we saw many industries begin to struggle. Unfortunately we saw photographers and videographers all around the world struggle and lose work.

We wanted to shine a spotlight on the creative people we admire and help them connect with local people. In the hope they can have a more prosperous year.

To help local people find local talent, we are interviewing amazing photographers, sharing their stories and their art. Continuing our series we have interviewed photographer Ellie Bell.

How did you get started in photography?

Interestingly enough I was always in front of the camera before I started becoming interested in actually being behind the camera. Growing up, my Grandad would always be taking photographs of me on his film camera, everywhere we went or even just at home!

Photography became a hobby and I’d take a compact camera with me on holidays and trips. It was when I was around thirteen that I started to take photography seriously and it wasn’t just a hobby anymore.

I had the chance to take one GCSE subject early, so I chose photography and bought my first DSLR. I then did A-Level photography and went on to study the subject at Nottingham Trent University too, where I achieved a First Class Honours Degree. I always wanted to be a criminal lawyer and envisioned myself studying it at the University of Sheffield, but I couldn’t not follow my dreams as I enjoyed being creative so much.

I never thought I would study a Master’s degree in Commercial Photography but I was so driven by the subject I didn’t want to stop studying and learning about it. I completed the Master’s just last summer and passed with Commendation.

How would you describe your photography style?

I don’t limit my photography practise to one particular style. I’m always experimenting and adjusting my style appropriately for shoots. Although I’m a commercial still-life photographer, I’ve created photographs of many styles, from documentary, wildlife, events and portraiture. I’ve also used a range of analogue cameras and developed my own films, but I’m most definitely a digital photographer!

Where do you find ideas and inspiration for your photography?

Most of my inspiration sparks from everyday visuals, I take a lot of notice to adverts whether on the TV, billboards or bus stops and I use Instagram daily just to keep up with current trends and styles. I often look at famous chef’s photographers to see what type of work they are making for cookbooks and magazines, and this is also useful for food photography to get an idea of fashionable foods and drinks or current health trends.

Sometimes I research historic art practises is also really interesting and surprisingly helpful, especially for creating still-life pieces.

What is your favourite image you’ve ever taken?

This is a really difficult question, maybe I can cheat slightly and mention two?! My favourite still-life photograph I’ve taken is a Renaissance style one, using foods that were already in the bin or were about to be discarded. It was to highlight the issue of food waste and how sudden people are today to throw foods away just because of a best before date, although the food itself is perfectly fine and can even still look beautiful in a photograph.

However, the photograph I enjoyed taking the most was one in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. A lioness was peacefully resting up a tree right by our car and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much excitement to capture a moment as it was so pure but surreal.

What is your dream shoot?

An on location still-life shoot in a Paris hotel for a designer brand like Gucci would be the ultimate dream, with handbags, purses and jewellery!

Or perhaps shooting fast-food in a colourful American diner in New York.

How to keep your photography fresh?

Although you may have a preference of style or subject or a particular speciality, you should always be open to trying new things and constantly learning. You don’t need to keep your photography fresh by buying the latest equipment and having the best camera or lens, it’s about being unique and doing your research in the field.

Do you have any tips for new photographers?

Don’t let comments like ‘anyone can take a photograph’ or ‘you can do that on an iPhone’ put you off from becoming a photographer. Most people can take a photograph and yes they can probably do it very easily on their phone, but something not everyone has is a creative eye.

It takes practise, precision and patience to get the perfect shot. Sometimes it’s accidental and you can impulsively capture a great photograph, but looking out for moments and being camera ready isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone.

If you have the eye for photography, make the most of it and constantly produce photos and get yourself noticed, it doesn’t take long for just one person to recognise your creative talent.

Thank you, for answering our questions Ellie! We have really enjoyed learning more about you!

If you’d like to see more of Ellie's work or find out how to hire him for your next project, you can find them on Instagram or on their website.

by Harrison Cameras on 18/01/2021


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