Photographer Samuel Bradley is as box-fresh from university as they come at this time of year. Part of last year’s crop of graduates he’s spent the last six months finding his feet and cutting his teeth on the mean streets of London, having completed his degree at UCA Farnham. Unlike many of his peers who are probably floundering in the confusion of life without loans and the oppressive reality of waking before 10am, Sam’s doing pretty well for himself and has seemingly acclimatised to London (and freelance) life with aplomb.
Among others Sam now counts Nokia, Topman, The New Statesman and Mother London as clients – though a watery foyer may have scuppered his chances with Conde Nast (See below) – and has amassed an impressive body of fashion editorial work. If you’ve not seen his shots in any publications yet, we’d wager you will have done in a few months time. Take it away Sam…
Where do you work?
I work from my flat in Homerton which I share with my girlfriend and one other guy. Everyone is out during the day so the kitchen/living room becomes my office. I sit at an ugly glass dining table which was here when we moved in. It’s an almost laughable set up but I do have access to a sweet balcony which I’m starting to venture out onto now the weather is getting better. If I could afford a swanky private studio space with an office that would be great but my rent is high enough already.
I’m also trying to get work that takes me out of the country as much as possible. I’m shooting abroad for a good two to three weeks in May. If that continues – which I really hope it does! – it will make having a separate rented workspace a bit pointless.
How does your working day start?
On a non-shoot day I get up at around 8:30am and check my emails/Twitter/Instagram on my phone. I find this helps me wake up. If I don’t have any good emails it takes me longer to drag myself to my computer. Once I’m up and online I usually check my blog activity which is purely a vanity thing but I like to know how much traffic I’ve had and if there have been any interactions. Then I check Hypebeast, High Snobiety, Selectism, Four Pins, Motherboard, Nowness and BNTL. I’ll be chewing my way through a bowl of muesli at the same time. I don’t drink coffee or tea which is a constant source of bemusement to everyone ever.
If it’s a shoot day I spend the morning with a pen and paper planning individual shots with little drawings. If it’s a shoot at an ungodly hour then I’ll have done this the night before and I’ll pretty much head straight out the door.
How do you work and how has that changed?
With regards to actually shooting I work with a kind of considered haphazardness. I’m not sure if my work is becoming more considered or more haphazard. I think they’re both increasing at the same time. I direct subjects a lot more than I used to.
It’s always been about confidence; the longer you shoot for the more courage you build up to tell people to do things in front of a camera. I like to get people to do something that occupies them but also puts them in a good position to be photographed. For fashion it tends to be about whole body positions but for portraiture it’s more about trying to conjure a thought onto a someone’s face.
I cannot stress how important I believe developing your personality and confidence is if you want to photograph people. You don’t have to be all like “Oh yeah love it, oh baby, yeah give me attitude, be a tiger, grrr’” but you can’t quietly stammer your way through a shoot. I’m sure some people can do it but awkwardness rarely produces anything but awkward photography.
Where would we find you when you’re not at work?
On my bike. I ride absolutely everywhere no matter how far away it is unless I have to carry heavy gear. I’ve only lived in London for six months so I try and ride between 50 -100km a week to places I have never been to find new locations for shooting and just to get to know the city beyond what you see on a TFL map.
I hate public transport, particularly the tube. It’s too expensive and you never see any of the bits in between. It’s not such a problem cycling to meetings in the summer but in winter I had two really important ones on the same rainy day, one at a photographic agency and one at Conde Naste. I turned up to both soaking wet with dirty water all up my legs and back. I dripped all over two really nice foyers.
It’s odd for me not to be working though unless I have some kind of pre-arranged social thing to go to. I do something photography-related every day, whether it’s blogging, shooting, editing or researching. I haven’t been doing it long but I’m pretty sure weekends don’t exists for freelancers if they want to be successful.
Would you intern for yourself?
I don’t see why not, although it’s taking me a while to get used to telling people to do things for me. I have an assistant on most shoots now but usually I forget to ask them to do things. So If I interned for myself I imagine it would be like trying to help out an old man who’s still clinging to his independence. I’d be swatting myself away saying things like “Don’t touch that, you’ll break it” or “I was fine on my own before you came along, you’re just getting in the way.”
I’d also be really underwhelmed by my ‘office’ if I turned up to intern here.