June 12, 2016

Spotlight #1: Matilda Rose Hill-Jenkins

Welcome to my new thing, where I spotlight a creative lady who I admire in a mini interview. First up, is the brilliant Matilda Rose Hill-Jenkins, a photographer based in London. She caught my eye on many occasions, especially through her work at The Debrief, so when she emailed to say we should collaborate on some pictures I jumped at the chance. I think you’ll agree her style is very unique and I absolutely love these portraits she took on our day out on Hampstead Heath. You can follow her work here.

Me by Florence

1. When did you realise you wanted to be a photographer?

Pretty young. Maybe around 13? I have this weird, distinct image of a bunch of kids I knew, round at my house crowded in front of my mirror, four guys maybe, all aged 12-13 and putting make up on. Whenever anyone asks me this question, for some reason I see a haze of small boys and lots of sparkly pink lipstick. I carried a camera around with me everywhere and I took a picture, who knows where that is now.

2. What’s your favourite type of photography?

My favourite type of photography is really different from my own photography, oddly.

I love a good traditional portrait, but I’ve also been influenced in the last few years through becoming friends with such great photographers and working for online photography magazines like Paper Journal and self published photobook promoter and publisher Self Publish, Be Happy, which is also where I met my boyfriend, Jake Kenny, also a photographer!

3. Who are your creative inspirations in life?

The magazines I read, the movies I watch and the books I love. Friends, my sister, certain photographers who I just think are brilliant. I’m obsessed with Alasdair McLellan at the moment.

I think Jake and I influence each other a lot. Our approach to photography is so different, in that I can become obsessed with perfection and he’s obsessed with mistakes. Sometimes there’s something in an image I’ve taken which irritates me; like someone’s foot creeping for example. I guarantee that whatever it is I wish wasn’t there will be his favourite part of the image. It can really help to have a reminder that an image can have imperfections and still be beautiful.

4. What are your favourite locations?

Our shoot is probably one of my new favourite places; Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath.
Otherwise I love a good wall, any wall. Just not plain brick, I hate that.

 

Emma 6

5. What cameras do you use and why?

Ok, so I use two analog cameras because I get stressed shooting digital and being able to shoot endlessly, I need a limit. I’m not a die hard analog fanatic though; I’ll use digital when I need to.
The first is a Canon EF. Really old heavy brass thing, a pain to carry around but makes a great click when you press the shutter. That camera was my dad’s originally and he bought it second hand in the 70s so it’s been around a while. I use it if I’m shooting in low light or if I don’t mind having slightly soft focus.
The second is a Contax G2. It’s auto-everything, which is really useful and I use that mostly when I shoot commissions as it means I can shoot quickly. My eyesight is so bad that if I focus things myself it’s pretty hit and miss, so I use them both for safety. Also I can take AGES to focus something manually. I can annoy my sister or my boyfriend or my dog with my Canon but it’s not so great to annoy someone you’ve just met.

 

Emma 4

Photography by Matilda Rose Hill-Jenkins

6. What’s your favourite thing about the process of taking photos?

When you’re shooting and you just know that it’s working. Even if you haven’t felt it for the rest of the shoot, once you have that moment, it’s all ok. It’s the best feeling.
Although I’m always guessing and won’t know if it’s really worked for a week or so until I get my negs developed! I love that part too. The waiting time between a shoot and seeing the pictures is so important for me; it gives me some space from whatever it is I’ve been taking pictures of. I guess that’s another reason I like to shoot film.
 

7. What are you looking forward to?

 
My sister comes home from 3 months working with a women’s charity in Ghana at the end of June. Really excited for that. We go to France every year in summer. I always take a ton of film and annoy her for two weeks 🙂

 

Me with Cristina Banban Oh Comely by Flob

8. What are 3 things you’ve learned (about yourself or the industry) since you’ve been a photographer?

1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
2. There will ALWAYS be people who expect you to work for free. You just have to decide what’s worth your time and what isn’t and try not to sell yourself short. However saying that… I think it’s good to say yes to things at first, you never know what they could lead to, who you might meet or what you might learn.
3. That I really, really don’t like having my picture taken. This realisation has given me some new found respect for everyone I photograph!

matildahilljenkins.co.uk

My Book

“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”

– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE

"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"

– The Debrief

“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”

– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic