November 21, 2012

Profile: Becca Naen, Fashion Photographer

“I just started taking pictures. I picked up my first camera when I was 15. I just kind of thought, ‘I can take pictures if I want to take pictures!’” So she did. I couldn’t really ask for a better answer to the generic, ‘where did it all start?’, question from Rebecca. Growing up in a small rural town in the west of Ireland, Rebecca Naen, 24, is a thriving freelance fashion and portrait photographer working and living in London. She giggled adorably while reminiscing about her first camera, in comparison to the trusty Canon 5D which she uses nowadays. “It was a nothing, it was worse than any phone camera now!” Luckily, the following Christmas her new hobby saw her receive a Compact SLR and she began to take more of an interest and teach herself about photography.

Surprisingly, Rebecca opted for a degree in landscape architecture for her under grad. When I questioned, why she didn’t choose a photography course, she explained that since photography is her biggest love and passion in life, she was apprehensive to put such pressure on it by studying it intensely. She taught herself everything she knows, by playing around with compositions and settings. She learnt how to master, the feared by many, Photoshop through online tutorials and believes that in this day and age there are no excuses for photographers to be bad at using the software with all the help available online. “If there’s something you need to know there is an amazing tutorial out there to tell you exactly how to do it. It’s just about having a mess and figuring out how to work it.” She undertook her first photo shoot at the tender age of fifteen, rounding up some of her coolest looking friends and forcing them to pose around a picturesque woods in the West of Ireland. She admitted to recently coming across pictures from this initial shoot, posting them on her Tumblr and then taking it down again as an afterthought. We all have to start somewhere though, and she took on an extremely creative role at a young age.

Rebecca decided she needed to move out of Ireland to become a successful photographer, after attempting to work in Dublin for a while. “The industry is just too small, it’s not the kind of fashion I want to do. I gave it a try in Dublin, but I was like no, it’s London.” She moved over to London in February 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. When she first moved she thought she would give it a go for six months and go back to Ireland if it didn’t work out, but that really isn’t the case, as she expressed she doesn’t see a return to the homeland on the cards at all. When she arrived in London she landed an internship in GQ, and gained a wealth of experience and contacts. “It was a really good footing for my first few months here. I was the photographic director’s assistant on the cover shoot. It was awesome.” Rebecca told me that networking is key in the industry and stressed the importance of attending launches and events. “I’ve been pretty fortunate in who I’ve met and people have just had faith in me and wanted me to do well and helped me in whatever way they can.”

Becca has recently moved into her own studio in trendy east London’s Bethnal Green, an impressive step for a 24 year old who was an intern the year before. She admitted that being freelance does have it’s ups and downs of course. “I might have one week where I’m ridiculously busy and working all day and hardly sleeping, and then the next week it could be nothing. It’s important to have balance and stick to a routine when you’re your own boss.” Having a good team is obviously very important for photographers. Rebecca’s team is made up of her menswear stylist, Ange Hughes and Aartthie Mahakuperan for womenswear. She describes their relationship as “quite scary” in terms of how well they get on and gel with each other. This is also really important to get the most out of models, when they arrive on set you want them to be relaxed. Touching wood as she told me, she’s never had a disaster or problematic shoot to date, putting the relaxed and friendly atmosphere as the main reason for this.

The last year has seen Rebecca grow from strength to strength. Her photos have been featured on Fucking Young!, Theones2watch, Who’s Jack Magazine and, probably the most accomplished to date, her shoot for FHM last month. After doing some test shoots with model Ricky Hall, the fashion director from FHM saw them and said they really wanted Rebecca to shoot for their bi-annual fashion issue. “In the last four or five months I’ve done my best work ever. The shoot with Ricky was a turning point for me. It made me think, wow I can actually do this and people like what I’m doing!” And things can only get better for the young photographer, when I asked her about her plans for the future, she revealed that the big goal is to shoot an advertising campaign, to be in Vogue and Lula. “This time next year I want my book to be twice the size, I want to have more big spreads in magazines. In five years time I’d like to be a regular contributor for big publications.” But for now, Rebecca is happily living on a day to day basis and seeing where the exciting life of a freelancer takes her.

All photos are courtesy of Rebecca Naen

Visit Rebecca’s website here:

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