Making it as a freelancer in any industry is hard enough but UK-based photographer Flore Diamant has managed to carve out a career for herself shooting bands and festivals using film. We chatted to her about how she made a success of her passions.
Hi Flore, tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! I’m Flore - however you decide to pronounce that. I’m from Belgium, and have lived in the UK for a fair few years now. As you can probably see from my work, I like the sun too much to be living here, so I really try to make the most of the outside and natural light when I can, as well as when the sun is sadly not here (a lot of the time). Since being at university, I became somewhat fascinated by the music world, from going to gigs to discovering new artists, and found it a great way to meet new people from all over. I am quite fascinated by meeting people and the idea of knowing an array of people from all over, that you can re-connect with whenever needed. I think that is how I somehow ended up where I am - nothing that bad ever comes from having a random conversation with someone. I now live in London (that has too many people) so the simple idea of running into someone familiar in a busy street enlightens me. Spontaneity and mishaps make life way more exciting (and sometimes stressful, yes) but that is how I try to stay on my toes and keep moving forward.
What made you decide to shoot most of your work on film?
Film is the tool I learnt to photograph with, and by getting so used to it I never really saw the advantage of switching to digital. The aesthetic of film is unbeatable, it makes photos look tangible and real, which for me is very important as it helps the viewer to be integrated into whatever story you’re trying to tell. Having a limited amount of shots keeps me on my feet as you have to really think about every frame you take, which make every image more precious. Getting rolls back from the lab is still like Christmas day - even though you know what you shot, there’s always some good surprises (and disappointments). I always remember some moments that make me press the shutter thinking ’this will be beautiful’ as some of my favourite shots. I prefer to shoot with natural light, as I believe it’s the truest representation of what we see, which also makes me go outside and explore my surroundings more.
What's your favourite equipment and why?
I still use the same camera I started with! I found my dad’s old (and apparently broken) Minolta SLR when I was still at home and decided to try it, so I learnt to use it as I was learning how to shoot. It’s pretty battered but strong as a rock, I’ve taken it everywhere and it suits me perfectly. I recently got into shooting medium format too, and got hold of a Rolleiflex which is incredibly sharp and beautiful. There are a lot of kits available now which can get very overwhelming, but as long as you find a camera that suits your style personally then there is no need to change. Also, a great conversation starter when people see you shooting with such beautiful and old cameras - most people used to have the same or are also using their parents' ones.
What are the challenges you face working as a freelance photographer?
Working for yourself is great and offers you a lot of freedom, but it is also extremely tough. The main challenge I have is finding the right balance. Workflow varies a lot for me, so some months can be extremely busy and some very quiet, so it’s important to make the most of both. As you’re working for yourself, it’s hard to clock out when needed and being overworked is easily done, so allowing yourself some time off is often necessary as you would have in a normal job. Finding things that make you clock out for a little while, from swimming to drawing or cooking, is incredibly important so you can breathe a little.
Also, staying organised. It sounds easy, but being on top of admin is very helpful and can be worked on in more quiet times. Shooting on film means having even more admin, as negatives need to be stored and organised in case any need to be found and rescanned (yes, it will takes a very very long time to start with, but once you have a system it will be so much easier) A more recent challenge is that a lot of people consider themselves ‘photographers' too, as it is now easier to take a good enough photo. Most phones have a good camera to capture day to day activities, which is a great tool to capture moments we want to keep. But it does not have your eye or skill, which is something easily forgotten while trying to sell your work and keep your values.
What advise would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
The same advice I received - shoot, shoot, shoot. Always have a camera with you, even if it’s heavy and takes space, take it everywhere. You will have moments when you see it right there, the frame you would have taken but alas no camera. Take photos of your friends ( they will hate you for it but also love you for it ) and your surroundings, and talk to people. Whatever field you’re interested in, people are usually nice and friendly and can help somehow, or know someone that can. And yes, there is still and always will be, free work that comes up. There are a lot of cons about working for free, but as long as you always consider yourself and what you could gain from it, then its worth a go. I started by working in a restaurant full time and shooting (mostly for free) in my time off, which was exhausting but that is how I made great contacts and did great work that made me progress to where I am now. And most importantly, stick to your guts and believe in what you do.