Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Kia ora, my name is Frances and I live in Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland. I take photos of people, mainly in the genres of music/fashion/portraiture. Outside of photography I like music, reading, running, social change, and trash talking at the pool hall.
How did your love of photography and videography come about?
There’s no great story, I just picked up a camera in high school and never got tired of taking pictures. It’s endlessly fascinating to be able to capture a scene or a moment that I think is beautiful and look at it again and again. I can’t think of a non-clichéd way to put this – it feels like you can hold on to the best bits of time.
I went through a few years of experimentation with different genres and techniques but I’ve found photographing people is the most satisfying and meaningful for me. I like to try and find ways to keep my other interests woven in to my photographic work so I most enjoy making portraits with musicians, artists, and activists.
The video work started when I was at art school, straightforward portraiture didn’t really fly in the contemporary art scene and I found I was able to realise ideas in a more complete way through video. I got further into it when I was working in equipment rentals – I needed to understand the gear that our clients were renting and I learn best through doing, so I made a few music videos to get more familiar with the equipment. I often get asked to shoot video alongside stills so I think it’s good to have both skills, and working with one makes the other feel fresh again when you switch back to it.
What are some of the different shooting techniques and processes you experiment with?
My mind’s gone straight to literal photographic processes, like cyanotypes, tintypes, photograms etc… I have tried some of those out before and I’d love to work with them more in future! But my regular shooting style is comparatively pretty simple. I rely on lighting and direction more than any specific techniques or processes. I’ve spent a lot of time working in equipment rentals and as a lighting assistant, so I’ve been lucky to experiment with lots of the tools available to get different types of images and light. I’ll try to incorporate something new on each shoot, anything from a lighting setup I haven’t used before to something small thing like an angle I don’t often shoot from. It would be easy to repeat what has worked in the past but I do want my work to keep developing.
How do you find the motivation to continue to go out and pursue your creative endeavours?
The motivation definitely ebbs and flows. I started out with photography because I really enjoyed it, and it’s important to me that I maintain that enjoyment now that it’s my job and not just a hobby. I think people working in creative jobs are often expected to pour their time and resources into making personal work in every spare moment, which is really not sustainable. When I go through a super busy period shooting paid work I don’t have a lot of energy to shoot personal work on top of that. So what I’ve done is tried to gear my commercial work towards the creative space that I get the most enjoyment out of working in – which means it’s not hard to get excited about shooting with other artists who work in different fields and are so passionate and motivated with what they do. When I do have a slow period (which usually happens through summer), I mainly get motivation from seeing what other people are making. I will reach out to people whose creative practices are really exciting and try to organise collaborative shoots with them. But honestly, the best way for me to stay motivated with photography is to make sure it’s not the only thing I do!
Where do you see yourself in 5 – 10 years time with your photography and video work?
I would love to work on a show or a book eventually but I think that might be a while ahead. One photography bucket list item I’ve had for years is to photograph a tour (any musicians/tour managers reading this, please hit me up! This is not a drill)
I would also like to find more ways to use photography/videography to promote the social causes that I care about – I think that might look like making a documentary, but again that’s another huge project that would take time to realise. When the time is right I’m sure it’ll happen.
Are there artists you look up to or admire?
There are too many to name across so many disciplines so I’ll just stick with one photographer. I think what Driely Carter is doing is incredible, she pushes so hard to make her work unique – recently she’s been making ambrotypes on uranium glass. Probably the only person in the world doing that right now if ever! She also researches really extensively, both to understand her subjects and also to come up with new ideas that fit them perfectly. Definitely some of the most innovative work on my radar.
Where can we view more and keep up to date with your photography?
www.instagram.com/francescarter is the best place and I also update on www.facebook.com/francescarterphotography when I remember. I’m giving my website a big overhaul – being too pedantic so it’s taking forever but that will be on www.francescarter.photo when I finally finish it! Or come round for a coffee and I can show you what’s in my hard drives / negative shoebox.