Review - Life as a professional Photographer - Lara-Jane Thorpe, 06 Jan 2020

A review by Helen Jones - "Life as a professional Photographer" presented by guest speaker Lara-Jane Thorpe.
It was lovely to see such a good turnout on the first night of the 2020 season when we welcomed Lara-Jane Thorpe to the club.

Lara-Jane is a local photographer who has hit the big time with her beautiful creative lifestyle photography - and she showed us many examples of her wonderful work, both on the screen and in the many magazines she brought with her.

Lara-Jane spent much of her career in the fashion and retail trade until a trip to India with the reknowned photographer Steve McCurry led her to change direction and become a full-tme photographer. She went to Bournemouth University to learn more and has never looked back.

Lara-Jane is first and foremost a food and interior design photographer - which entails being a stylist, a potter, an artist and a cook herself! She has to provide all her own props so collects vintage cutlery and crockery. She has turned her hand to pottery, making her own plates and collects old pieces of wood and metal which she then paints as backdrops. She never washes her baking trays either as their distressed appearance adds character to her work!

Lara-Jane prefers to use natural light and explained how she uses light to get the best out of her shots - even those she has to take in harsh sunlight. She knows her camera and its capabilities and works with the light to bring out the best in everything. She rarely uses a tripod, preferring the freedom and spontaneity of a hand-held camera.

She explained that with lifestyle work you have to feel you could just step into the picture and live that dream - so a lot of time is spent styling and arranging food to create that impression. She often begins by creating mood boards. Sometimes the brand she is advertising is actually quite a small part of the final picture - she has to set up a picnic, a breakfast table, some sort of scene people can relate to and aspire to in their own lives. This can take hours of careful work to get everything in the right place and perfectly colour coordinated. Colour is very important to Lara-Jane and she is known for her use of bright, colours.

Lara-Jane often shoots from above and will provide different versions of an image - a portrait, a landscape and one with space for copy. For some work, she hires professional cooks and stylists - it all depends on budget.

Lara-Jane also explained that as well as the big-name campaigns, she also shoots for stock. She often photographs her own meals (always artfully arranged!) and sends these to her agent. She is clearly an accomplished cook as well because her own food looked amazing!

Lara-Jane finished by taking us back to where it all started - Inda. She returned to India last September and wanted to capture feelings and emotions. She showed us a beautiful and very empotional series of monochrome images - the photos she takes for herself .

This was a highly enjoyable evening and it was wonderful to add such a vibrant splash of colour to a dull January evening. Thank you, Lara-Jane!

~ Helen Jones