We chat to Anneleen Lindsay, creative portrait photographer and one of the winners of our AOP Junior Assistant competition
One of five winners of the first ever Fixation-sponsored Junior Assistant competition, Anneleen Lindsay has received a backpack goody bag full of everything a budding photographic assistant might need on a shoot.
Anneleen’s beautiful portrait image was a hallmark of the style she has cultivated, and was a huge hit with the competition judges
We caught up with Anneleen to find out a little more about her photography:
Fixation: Congratulations on a beautiful prize-winning image! Could you tell us a little about your winning shot?
Anneleen Lindsay: Thank you! The image was (obviously!) staged but there was an element of spontaneity in making it. It was created during a 1920s-themed fashion shoot, which I planned, styled and photographed. I had in mind the life and works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his (fellow party animal) wife Zelda, and I wanted the images to have a sense of extravagant decadence tinged with a subtle, dark edge of world-weariness.
I worked with a costume designer, Rachael Forbes, who created the headpiece and necklace and did make up for Taylor, the model. The location was a mirror shop, filled with large gold-framed mirrors, which I had selected to use as a backdrop and styled the model in black and gold to match.
We did several shots as planned – dripping in gilt – but then, when we were doing a costume change in the back room, I spied the sunburst mirror used in my image, half-hidden behind a picture frame and some rags. I asked the shop owner if we could dig it out, and then shot a few frames with the model sitting in front of it. The angular lines looked very art deco and created a frame around the model that reminded me of icon paintings. When editing the pictures, this frame really stood out.
© Anneleen Lindsay
F: Can you tell us about your process of creative portraiture?
AL: The story of this picture is a good example of my approach; I plan shoots carefully, researching around an initial idea for a theme, then select a location, costume and creative team to match my vision.
Once I’m on the shoot, however, I enjoy experimenting and trying out lots of different angles. I have a plan but I always hold it loosely, as I think that being responsive to what I see around me once I’m in situ – and being open to changing what I thought I would do – often leads to more interesting images.
I often shoot outdoors as I’m interested in the feelings that being ‘in nature’ evokes, which can mean shooting in rain, wind, snow. This requires a flexible approach! I generally prefer to use ambient light for the same reason – I enjoy being reactive to my environment, even though a lot of staging goes into my images.
© Anneleen Lindsay
F: What do you consider to be the challenges of portrait photography?
AL: I work in a range of different genres, and while most of them incorporate portraiture, the approaches and challenges vary according to the type of portrait and what my aim is for the image.
If you want the sitter to enjoy themselves and feel relaxed, then it helps to be able to make them laugh and put them at ease. To do that, you have to be relaxed and confident (or able to fake it) about what you’re doing.
When working with models to create a more stylised, storytelling, creative portrait, the challenge is to communicate the character I want them to play. I often work with actors and dancers as they are more attuned to working in this way than some fashion models.
© Anneleen Lindsay
F: Who are some photographers you admire?
AL: Julia Margaret Cameron is a huge influence – she was one of the earliest portrait photographers and broke the rules even before they were established, with her dreamy, ethereal images recreating myths and legends. Photography was seen by many early practitioners solely as a method of recording life exactly ‘as it is’, but she used it as an opportunity to bring her imagination to life; she set up her images as if she were directing a play.
Similarly, Tim Walker creates fantastical scenes using epic locations, oversized props and dramatic costumes. His work is so imaginative and ambitious. I also love how Viviane Sassen uses her models almost as sculptural forms – they are anonymous and almost inhuman in the weird camera angles she uses and the way she poses them. The way she uses bright colours and contrasty, stark shadows is bold and dramatic.
I look at a lot of different photographers’ work and find it endlessly fascinating to glimpse how others see. My work is also heavily influenced by my long-term obsession with Pre-Raphaelite paintings and by my past studies and work in literature, film-making and theatre.
© Anneleen Lindsay
F: What are you plans for your future career?
AL: I really enjoyed working with the British Council on their Shakespeare Lives campaign last year, for which I created a series of images based on Shakespeare’s plays, which were used globally to promote their events. My work was used on large banners at hundreds of events throughout the world, exhibited in Vietnam and Russia and published in print in the UK, Spain and Italy.
I’d love to do more work like this: marrying my creative portraiture and love of literature to advertise events for large cultural organisations. I am keen to work with more theatre companies and a dream job would be working as an on-set, behind-the-scenes photographer on film productions. I’d also love to shoot fashion stories and editorial portraits for magazines and brands.
I’ve exhibited in many group shows and am planning my first solo exhibition this April. I’m looking for sponsorship / funding to tour my exhibitions and also to develop some of my personal work. I’m in the initial stages of two documentary projects which will look at land usage, environmental issues and ownership of public space. I’d like to get these published to bring attention to the stories of the people and places I will be photographing. But I’m keeping the details quiet for now!
Anneleen Lindsay is a portrait photographer based in Edinburgh