Portrait and fashion photographer Kid Circus is a DJ turned fashion photographer who discovered a love for photography when he got his first iPhone. Experimenting with landscapes and architecture eventually led him to portrait photography and then fashion. Although he started with digital mediums he now predominantly shoots on film.
Photography is one of the most important mediums of expression in fashion and lucky for us self-starters it has become extremely accessible. High-quality phone cameras, the ability to get away with FaceTime shoots and £20 disposable cameras means we can create affordable content. The accessibility of photography, like everything, means we have a higher expectation from the photographer. Being able to take a good picture is just one of the requirements, and using film is a test of how good you can make a single shot.
The comeback of film photography means that a generation born into digital can learn to no longer take every shot for granted. The aesthetic of the film is nostalgic, it undergoes very little retouching so feels real and produces authentic filters. The need to make each image meaningful in its own right forces the photographer to adopt a new approach to their surroundings and the subject. Being a photographer includes building relationships, Kid Circus says ‘ when you make a connection between you and your subject, it shows in the final images.’, these connections are also vital economically to gain work and keep clients. ‘ If I connect with a stylist and/or art director, we find we like each other’s work and want to create something together, I find it good to bounce around ideas or concepts before settling on a final idea,’ explains Kid Circus.
The world of photography has many layers so we spoke to Kid Circus to find out more about the craft and elements of the business.
What was your journey into photography and what attracted you to fashion?
My background before photography was DJing and music production. I had occasionally taken pictures on my phone but only started doing it more when I got my first iPhone. When I realised I was getting more serious, I bought the most affordable camera I could get and initially began with architecture and landscape photography. The portrait photography was something I decided to try and found I loved and it wasn’t long before I moved into fashion photography
How has your educational background impacted your practice? Was there anything missing and what is the most valuable thing you took away?
That’s a really good question. The last course I did in higher education was a performing arts course, as this was what I thought I’d move into when I finished college. However, I started DJing whilst studying and it kinda took over any desire to perform or act. So for me, maybe deep down I have an appreciation for the ‘performance’ aspect of being in front of the camera when it comes to working with models.
How do you collaborate with designers, stylists, make-up artists and press? (Do you have a go-to team?)
To be honest, this process can vary. If I connect with a stylist and/or art director, we find we like each other’s work and want to create something together, I find it good to bounce around ideas or concepts before settling on a final idea. This is how a shoot I recently did with the stylist Ivonna Dambrehte came about, which was recently featured in KODD Magazine On other occasions, a stylist will have already come up with the concept and mood board for a shoot, and they bring me in on the project because they are looking for an aesthetic my work matches. The recent editorial I did with Chelsea Siobhan for Yellowzine is a prime example. Once the concept is in place, we then look at bringing in a make-up artist we feel will fit the images we want to create then contact agencies to begin casting a model accordingly.
Can you share one favourite image you’ve taken and the story behind it?
I think it would have to be this image I took of Jae Woods. I and Jae had been meaning to shoot together for a couple of years, and never got round to it. What’s more, we have a bunch of mutual friends and yet had never met, having only communicated over social media. She was due to travel to Australia (where she grew up) and wouldn’t be returning to London for a few months, so we arranged the shoot at very short notice. The quality of light that day was amazing, and this was my favourite shot from the shoot. When you make a connection between you and your subject it shows in the final images, and I believe this one is a good example.
What is your favourite camera to use and why?
It is undoubtedly my Mamiya RZ67. It’s a medium format film camera. The main reasons I love it are:
- It’s modular, meaning all parts of the camera like lenses, camera back and viewfinders are interchangeable.
- It produces beautiful film negatives that can be printed in relatively large sizes if you are exhibiting your work.
- As I only get 10 shots from each roll of film I use, shooting this kind of film camera makes me shoot with more intention, as each shot costs money.
What 3 pieces of equipment would you say every freelance photographer needs?
- A tripod – sometimes your shooting conditions can be less than ideal and a tripod is a good basic way of keeping your camera steady
- A device or means of remote controlling your camera – in relation to the above, being able to control your camera without the risk of accidentally moving it is useful
- Spares, Spares, Spares – I mean it. Pack spares of everything you can fit in your camera bag, whether it’s extra memory cards, batteries, lens wipes or even a spare camera body if you can manage it. You never want to be caught out on a shoot, especially if it’s for a client.
How do you price your work?
For pricing, this can depend on the client. I try and be reasonable in pricing if I’m being booked for say a straightforward portrait shoot, and if it is a shoot for a brand (such as a lookbook) my pricing will be very different, especially as I’ll need to be sure of the intended usage for the pictures once I deliver the final images.
How is it to work independently and where do you go for support?
It can be very liberating because of how you can manage your own time. However, this can be a double-edged sword in that sometimes it’s easy to not give yourself enough of a rest. My support network includes the family, of course, other photographers and online communities that I have become part of where we share knowledge and advice with each other. I must mention the website The Dots also. For those who do not know, it’s essentially the creatives version of Linkedin. This means it’s great for networking, but also a great place to find events (many of them are free), and to able to ask questions of the community and in turn help other people seeking advice.
Finally, what changes if any, would you like to see in fashion and your line of work?
In fashion, I would like to see more sustainable fashion brands take centre stage. I’m currently in talks with one such label that has reached out to me recently and I’d love to work with more of these brands in the future.