25 June 2012

Interview with Saskia Lawson

Youth and talent - one could argue the two go hand-in-hand for a promising career.
My interviewee has both. Yet for someone so young in a competitive industry such as photography, I wondered if her limited experience would be a hindrance to her efforts. Then again, we all have to start somewhere.

(Photo courtesy of Saskia Lawson - www.saskialawson.com)
Surrey-based fashion and portraiture photographer Saskia Lawson openly advertises her young age of 18. She sees it as a useful selling point for her business, which she started out in September last year.

"Because I'm quite young, a lot of people notice me," Saskia tells me. "People get drawn to you, because they think, 'Wow, she's really young,' and it kind of makes you more interesting. They look at your stuff and think, 'Ooh, she's actually quite good'."

Saskia and her feline friend Ishy - notorious for jumping into shots. Just like this.
Saskia delved into photography from the age of twelve, when her father noticed she had
a good eye for the art: "He bought me a little Pentax, and every weekend, I would take pictures of my best friend, who was very glamorous and had the biggest wardrobe ever. We'd dress up, put on make-up, and try to be like real fashion photographers."

Since then, photography has been her passion, eventually going on to study the subject at college. However, upon graduation, the traditional step to continue onto degree level was far along a different path. In a society where the option of university is perhaps saturated, Saskia chose instead to dive straight into the deep end and kick-start her profession early - a move which, in hindsight, has worked out well.

"I didn't really think I'd enjoy uni," she explains. "I didn't want to keep on learning and have to stick to the rules of the course. And there would have been so many other people on the course to compete with. I set up my own business, because I needed the money and also to keep the fashion dream afloat, but I preferred as well to go out into the world and gain experience."

(Photo courtesy of Saskia Lawson - www.saskialawson.com)
Saskia's parents have supported their daughter in her career, whatever her decision, having even converted the garage behind their Normandy cottage into a photographic studio as a gift. Since her first pay-cheque in September 2011, the studio now hosts, on average, two photo shoots a week. Occasionally, Saskia's weekly schedule is even booked to the brim. Not bad going for an 18 year old girl.

But while confident with her age, Saskia's true challenge to face is competition. Fashion photography in particular is a sought-after career for many young creatives, as evident by the huge number of entries in Elle Magazine's intern competition, which offers one lucky individual to be in charge of photography for their entire October issue. But of course, Saskia is very clear about who she has to contend with.

"There's so much competition, it's unreal," she sighs. "A lot of people put me in the category of a young girl who wants to be a photographer, and it's hard not to be like everyone else. Sometimes, I don't really get the chance to show my work. There is a
lot of competition, not so much in my age group, but with older and more experienced photographers.

"But because I'm young and good at social networking, I think I have that advantage. I'm on Facebook a lot, and I like to blog. I'm not saying older people aren't able to do it too, but maybe they wouldn't be as on key with it as I am. I'm always putting up my photos and updating my work statuses, so people can see what I do."

"I was with my friend once, and she was with her dog. And we were talking about her dog,
when all of a sudden, I saw this picture in my head, with the dog and the girl sat to next to it.
So I turned to my friend and asked, 'Are you free tomorrow? I need to borrow your dog.'"

(Photo courtesy of Saskia Lawson - www.saskialawson.com)
Perhaps the best benefit of being a young professional, however, is a long future. By the time her university equals have graduated, Saskia will already be three years ahead with
a firm standing in the photographic industry. There is plenty to aspire to at her age, from magazine shoots to brand marketing campaigns.

"I need to aim to get my photos in magazines, because that's a really good platform for work," says Saskia. "My favourite is Love Magazine; it has the most amazing pictures. It's like a bible, but full of beautiful photos.

"I would love to shoot Topshop too. Every time I go into their stores, I see their massive pictures and say to myself, 'I will take them one day.' And I'd like to go travelling. I want to go on an American road trip with some models, and take photos at unusual places."

(To find out more, and to view Saskia's portolio, visit www.saskialawson.com)

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