Charleston. Tell us ABOUT yourself.
I took up photography in 2013, it after loosing both my fiance & mother in 2011. In 2013 I decided to put together a photo album, but I had very few images of both my fiance Claire & my Mum. This was before selfies became '' cool '', I had been too busy living life to stop and think to take photos. With my son growing rapidly I vowed never to miss another moment.
With that, I bought a Sony Alpha camera & taught myself to use by reading photography books & youtube tutorials. Friends of mine then offered to begin modelling for me; some mistakes were made along the way and learnt from. It was by chance that a family friend had viewed my work whilst he was down visiting, he suggested then making a portfolio of my work than applying for University. I did laugh at the idea and then informed him saying that I had left school with no GCSE's & being at the age of 27 they wouldn't look twice at me or my work.
It sat with me for a couple of days and then the notion of (I have nothing to loose, why not?!?) set in. I applied to University South Wales Caerleon which was known for the best photography course's in Wales, and by April 2013 I was asked to attend an interview. Beyond nervous, I attended the interview wearing a suit with my portfolio which included a couple more landscape, architecture as well as up close portraits. As I sat waiting I couldn't help but notice a number of fresh school leavers & majority wearing baggy clothes. Once again I instantly thought this is not my scene at all.
I was called into the room and two professional photographers who were now lecturers began to look over my work before they asked me what brought me here and why I wanted to study photography. My work was looked over three times, and they turned to each other, began whispering then turned back to me. The answer I was given was very simple '' Bring your camera & work with you back in September ''. It was not that greatly received as the look of confusion was apparent on my face. I asked what he meant, and then it was told to me that despite my lack of qualifications and my age that was not apparent, it was detailed, composition as well as the unique eye of my work that impressed them.
During the next three years studying Fashion-and-Advertising at Caerleon University, I worked with a range of British & International clients. One of the biggest events I was involved with was working for Canon Offical at London Fashion Week. From there I took part in a range of Fashion shows & even had an image of mine displayed on the BBC homepage for Faith through a Lens competition where I was introduced to famous photographer Don McCullin who praised my work. From this, I went on to continue with Fashion shows but also opening up a two sister companies in by doing High-end Boudoir portraits, then created another one in which I travelled across the UK & Europe's finest Botanical gardens taking photos. Collectively of all three pages I have over 24,000 followers.
Our readers would love to get to know you more Charleston. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you?
Through University I had a battle against my lecturers because I refused to use photoshop in any of my images.
I told them that I am taking a photo, not creating an oil painting. I don't need to over edit my images.
This is where my slogan stands as - I produce real images of real people.
Charleston, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Photographer?
My passion for photography and always wanting to capture an image comes from a great loss in 2011 of loosing my fiance to Cervical Cancer in February & then later on in the same year September my mother lost her second battle against Breast cancer.
There is a range of photographers who work has inspired me from all three genres of Fashion, Boudoir & Floral photography. From viewing someone's work I always make sure that nothing is copied, I seek to ensure my work stands out on my own.
Who is your inspiration in life Charleston? How do you keep inspired?
The inspiration for my Floral Photography and travelling across the UK & Europe to photograph the best botanical gardens comes from both my Mum & Fiance, the house was always filled with beautiful flowers or exotic plants. I never appreciated them enough before but now it doesn't matter where I am in the world, I will stop and photograph any flowers I come across.
We all make mistakes Charleston; we wish we could take back. Please tell us about time being a Photographer, you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
I was still a student at this time; I regret not practising still captures while everything else is moving in the back ground. We had a model advertising a new leather back for a client. As we got him to cross the road, there was a person riding a vesper motorbike dressed all in vintage leather and even the shoes. He rode past and looked back at our model crossing the road. I tried shooting it as best as I could, but my images were not sharp enough to produce the final dead line. One of the most frustrating moments of my career to date. Those split 4 seconds is all it takes.
Charleston , when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Photographer, how do you go about prioritizing your clients’ needs?
I do not prioritize any client if I am booked by anyone I ensure they have my complete attention and detail to the brief I have been set. I do not rush photography or myself incase I miss something by accident. Every client brief and booking is allocated to time in which every possible angle can be covered before I deliver my images to the deadline.
Please tell us Charleston, about a time you had to be very strategic to meet all your top priorities as a Photographer?
Working for the NP Fashion show with Mercedes-Benz as one of the main sponsors, even with the lighting problem that arose I was able to make my way through all the images and only using lightroom I worked on adjusting colours of photos ready to be published the next day across social media as an advertising tool in order for people to book the tickets ahead of the next show. I had 4 hours to go through, edit and send off the images ready to be published the same day.
Charleston, please give us an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
Fashion client ahead of a new clothing line that was due to be published. I suggested a range of locations that were more suited to the attire of the suits that were going on sale. In the end, the three images I suggested shooting the final products stood stronger than the other locations. The Castle grounds, River boat jetty & Arch way of trees with the model were the most popular interactive images with the public when they showed on social media. We continued the rest of the range in this manor of location shooting.
Charleston, please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Photographer. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you just want to share with everyone. What is it and why?
Among all I have mentioned with London Fashion Week, the BBC & Various fashion shows, one of my proudest images I shot was taken off my iPhone while I was out walking one evening down to a place called Wetlands in Newport South Wales. The sunset lit up the lake with the Powerplant in the back ground, this mix of nature, beauty and man made pollution sent my Instagram into a frenzy in which just two hours it sent the image on Instagram up to 1001 likes, one of the most popular images on that page.
Charleston, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
I became very creative with one image as I placed my engagement ring into the middle of the bible where I sat in a dark room and held a torch above the ring. With it being in the bind of the book the shadow created the image of a heart. It was very simple but stood out immensely as it became a very striking image.
What advice would you give to the people who want to be successful as a Photographer?
Carry your camera everywhere, there are millions of moments happening all around you and then they're gone, most can not be recreated. Don't live in regret of not taking the chance to capture it.
Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state below what type of collaboration you are looking for?
I am always looking to collaborate with new fashion lines, MUA's, beauty shoots or something completely different that I have never worked on before.
Now for the best part Charleston! Please upload 5-10 photos so we can get to see your work.
Photographer: Charleston Gibbs
Empire Collective Photography