In the spotlight is an article series featuring up-and-coming shutterbugs that are about to put their mark on the world. In the first article, fashion and beauty photographer Pauline Darley introduces herself and talks about how she started off as a photographer.
Ten years ago, my parents gave me my first DSLR for my 18th birthday. I had only recently become interested in photography. I liked finding compositions and trying to tell a story in just one photo, but I needed to develop and learn how the camera worked (in terms of the exposure, focal length, shutter speeds, ISO etc.).
I was studying information and communications at the time and did all my photography on the side. As I see it, I progressed quite naturally. I never wanted to become a professional photographer, I was pretty lucky that it came about of its own accord.
I was interested in photographing people, so I took photos of my friends, my friends’ friends and so on. Word of mouth spread, people commissioned images from me, they offered to model for me, then brands and magazines contacted me and offered me work.
At the end of my Masters, I had to make a choice: carry on with my studies or see if I could make it as a photographer. I was fortunate because from the very first month it worked! It wasn’t easy every month of course, but I’m delighted to see that 7 years later I’m still here. My aspirations have changed, my work too, but I still enjoy what I do.
Today, there is one constant in all my photos: the human element. I like portraits, fashion and beauty – outside or in the studio. I enjoy exploring all of that, everything speaks to me. In the studio, I can control the lighting and create a specific set-up, and I feel really at home there.
I began by taking photographs outside, and to start off I never used flash. Flash scared me because I didn’t know how to handle it, I was not in control. It felt easier to just go outside and chase the prefect daylight. Working outside taught me a great deal since it forced me to take photos in any kind of light and learn what settings I liked best. I practised hard and tried to find my own style. But as time passed I felt that I wanted to give flash a new try. Three years after I started, I invested in my first flash kit. Taking photographs with additional lighting opened up a whole new world – I was able to recreate any light I wanted, and play with the settings and how the light fell. I was no longer dependent on ambient light. Now I was in control.
I was lucky to be able to enter this new world with the help of my partner, Maxime Stange.