Up & Coming (Newo)
Here at Interfit we are always keen to help promote up-and-coming photographers. It’s always great to find out how and why they do what they do! In a series of interviews, we are going to talk to young photographers which are just starting their journey or, are on the cusp of moving to the next stage in the hope to inspire, shed some creative light and showcase new ideas.
Our Fouth interview is with Newo, she is a self-taught photographer from the UK thats now based in London, she has worked in photography for about three and a half years, shooting beautiful stylised portraits. her work has some dark context which brings out some stunning images that are Inspired by all things strange, great for the october (spooktober) theme. her mission is to create images to showcase the wonderful work and craft of all involved.
London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times. At its centre stand the imposing Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower. It is a place of wonder with every avenue looking different making it a photographers playground.
Julian – “Hi Newo, so we’ve seen some of your work popping up on Instagram, It fits well into spooktober and we thought it would be cool to get to know you a bit. So was there a particular moment or event that made you want to become photographer”
Newo –Pretty much every day is Halloween for me, so this works well! So I’ve been taking photos now for about 3 and a half years – it all kicked off because I originally did a lot of modelling and makeup work, but being an alternative model there were very few photographers near where I was from that were interested in the sort of images I wanted to shoot. I also worked full time, so finding the odd weekend and having to hike cross country to shoot meant I didn’t really have a particularly good creative outlet. So I thought sod it I’m going to start taking some of my own, and thankfully I had an amazing friend who leant me some of her designs that she’d made, and we shot a very quick couple of looks in her bathroom with a single cheap light I’d bought, and she pretty much forced me to make a Facebook so she could tag me.
It was also really nice to ‘hide’ a little bit behind the NEWO alias, because ‘modelographers’ tend to get a lot of stick in the industry – so it felt a little bit sneaky and I loved it!
Julian – “How would you best describe your style of photography and what made you want to shot the way you do?
Newo –So I’m a massive prop hog… and also a big old goth… I dunno, someone once described my work as ‘alt-editorial’, and while we had a good old laugh about how pretentious that sounded, I kind of love it. I love fantasy elements, but I wouldn’t count myself as a fantasy photographer. I love showing off the models, the designs, and all the weird and wonderful creatives that have come together in an image. There are some elements from the great fine art portrait photographers that I adore, the toning and beautiful skin and use of light that I’m forever trying to fit into my work, then there’s times where I look at work from teams that use amazing drama, gels, emotion – and I want to fit that in as well.
Most of the time things pretty much end up as a big mish mash – but I like being able to do two or three different sets with a model, and see how they can end up looking like completely different characters, with completely different atmospheres. At the end of the day, it’s usually all a big dress up session, and styling has always been my thing.
Julian – “You use some fantastic props and costumes in your shoots, where do you get them from? ”
Newo –Oh lordy, do you have space for me to namecheck everyone?! No, seriously, I’m very very lucky to have worked with as many amazing and diverse designers as I have already. I’d love to give a shoutout to everyone, but I am going to name one if that’s OK – the amazing lady behind the Hysteria Machine team, and who was actually the friend who encouraged me to do that first shoot in her bathroom. I genuinely think it was because I had a couple of super gorgeous pieces that I was able to shoot with that got more models interested, and in turn I was able to reach a bit more of an audience, and then other fabulous designers were open to working with me in turn, and it snowballed from there.
A lot of the props and costumes I ultimately shoot as one-offs will start off as conversations on social media – more often on Instagram nowadays, but then I also still get campaign work come the old fashioned way through the website. Some of the ladies and gents who create the pieces I get to work with have actually ended up being great friends, it’s lovely to be able to bounce ideas and concepts off each other, and just have fun working on bringing those ideas to life.
Also, I am all sorts of down for swaps with people. I know a lot of fellow creatives who also have pretty amazing prop-boxes, and have traded pieces or passed things around so we all get to keep re-inventing the images for the designers as well, which I think is pretty cool. I love seeing how different visions turn out with the same pieces!
Julian – “If you could photograph any famous person (alive or dead) who would it be and why? ”
Newo –Oooh that’s a good one. There’s a lot of people I’d like to photograph, but I’m not sure any of my ‘realistic’ hit list are household names necessarily, but more known in the ‘scene’.
OK so I guess there’s two that spring to mind though if I think about it. The first is my most recent obsession: Dorian Electra. One of my friends introduced me to their music at a party, and oh my god, their aesthetic is ev-er-y-thing. A lot of my ideas for shoots already come about through music, so it’s not really surprise. Their music videos are so so good. I’m hoping to go see them with some friends later on this year at a gig in London, and you can imagine how extra the current costume planning is… But if you find yourself online, completely check out Dorian’s music videos – you will not be disappointed.
The second I would absolutely adore to photograph is potentially a bit cliché, but none the less, I would love to photograph Lady Gaga. I think her styling is always so so close to what I would love to do, so I think there would be a lot of crossover to explore there, elements of high fashion, drag culture, some proper questionable bits and pieces, and again being able to do a couple of different looks – she really is a chameleon.
Julian – “You live in London but originally you’re from Yorkshire, is there anything you miss? ”
Newo –First of all: White Rose White Rose to any fellow Yorkshire-people!! Yea of course, who doesn’t miss fish and chips that actually taste proper?! I had a full half hour conversation with a fellow Yorkshireman the other day about how disappointing chips are down here. Also, constantly being judged for getting gravy on them.
I think from a photography perspective as well as from a place of personal nostalgia, I miss having moorland, and rock-scapes. I totally love shooting on location at places like Ilkley moor, where there are some phenomenal textures to off-set the model – heathers, really rugged rocks, forests – it’s all a bit flat and undramatic where I live now. Although heading to the coast is pretty awesome – but I’m very much a ‘storm out on the moors in the wind’ sort of person at heart.
OH! Also, it’s not ‘Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner’, it’s ‘Breakfast, Dinner, Tea’. Unbelievable.
Julian – “When was the last time you shot on a camera that wasn’t digital? If you haven’t what was your first camera and what did it do for you?”
Newo –I must admit, I never really got ‘into’ film, mainly because I mostly started my photography journey very much in the digital era – although I do love a good polaroid or a disposable at a party. Look, if you look terrible in a photo, at least on film you just have to deal with it and get on with your life, you don’t take ten thousand more until everyone is completely happy – I’m a bit of a grumpy old woman on that front.
I actually used to sell cameras at Currys when I was at Uni as a little part time job (to fund my chips and gravy habit) – so one of the first ‘proper’ cameras I had was a Canon 1100D I think. Then I fell in love with a Sony NEX5, which was a little micro 4/3 mirrorless, that I used for taking a million photos for my dissertation. Side note: I’m actually a Biology graduate by education, so wrote about the Ecology of Plant Pollinator Networks and invasive plant species for my final year – nerdy, I know. That little camera was so fast, it was gorgeous. I still have a couple of prints from then actually knocking around my house.
On the topic of non-digital cameras though, I do currently have a couple that came from my Gran and my Dad, which I’m in the process of restoring to their former glory. They are older film ones, and need various parts cleaned or replaced, but I think it’s going to be really rewarding to get them back in working order and give me a new avenue to play with!
Julian – “Halloween is round the corner, what is it that you like so much about this time of year and have you got anything special planned? ”
Newo –Halloween, while one of my favourite times of year, often ends up being my busiest time as far as photography is concerned, because everyone wants spooky photos, and being that’s often what I’m known for, everything gets quite full!! So my Halloween more often than not ends up being sometime early in November. I know this is the same for many of the creative spooky squad, so often we’ll end up getting together and doing something then.
I do love the fact that we’re getting into Autumn now though – firstly because I don’t roast to death in the sun anymore… but it’s personally my favourite season for getting outside in. If we end up with a crispy-leaved season with the gorgeous red and orange forests I’ll be a happy bunny. Plus, I’ve got two little black cats, so spooky autumn witchy photos galore!!
From a prop hunting perspective as well, the run up to Halloween is A-MAZING for stocking up the prop-box with pieces. Shops suddenly go fully alternative, there’s always amazing homeware (thank you pearlescent skull cake plates of last year…), and eBay / charity shops always crack out their slightly spookier pieces, so you can actually get some gorgeous gothic vintage finds incredibly inexpensively. It’s always a good idea I think to have a little ‘staple’ wardrobe that you can pull from to style up elements you may have from other designers, and now’s a really good time to do that.
Julian – “Where do you take you inspiration from and why?”
Newo –It depends which shot to be honest! It’s hard to boil down, so I guess I’ll talk through some of the themes I like to use, and see if I can include some of the shots in the article that are vaguely on topic! Generally, inspiration stems from the styling, usually one piece, and then flows in to a ‘character’, with colours, emotions etc. Metallics are a great love of mine, and always work beautifully on camera as a highlight, so there’s a couple of sets I’ve shot that I love that include metalwork / armour. For me, it can be shot in such diverse ways – is this a strong female warrior, warpaint, ‘power’ posing etc., or is it something based in mythology, or is it being used as a prop to tell a story about an unseen character? There’s a lot of possibilities, so pieces like that always send me off on a route somewhere.
Another big inspiration is iconography – I do a lot of work that has this sort of element, whether it’s posing, costume, colours or whatever. I have a fairly extensive collection now of halos, or costuming that is reminiscent of iconography. There was a holiday I went on when I was fairly young, I think it was Lanzarote or somewhere, but they had a beautiful Catholic church, with a ‘light’ Madonna statue at one end, and a ‘dark’, or Madonna in mourning, at the other end. That sort of thing has always been super beautiful in my mind, and really interesting to play around with – so there are a lot of religious elements that find their way into my work.
I guess the photos that I always choose to edit into a finished piece tend to be quite melancholic in nature as well, either that or creepy or very much an image of a ‘powerful’ woman. I’ve always been quite keen not necessarily consciously, but subconsciously not to just produce ‘happy smiley scantily clad woman’ photos. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – I adore a good boudoir set as much as the next girl! But I kind of want to produce work consciously not intended for the male gaze, but much more with ‘what would I love to look like as a woman’ in mind. Why not look a bit moody, or other world-ly, or mysterious, or royal, or downright terrifying? I love it.
Julian –“What do you find the most rewarding about being a photographer”
Newo –My favourite thing is getting super hyped about delivering photos. People’s responses are the BEST. When the designers or the models, or anyone involved is like ‘omg this is amazing’ and is really into what we’ve created together. Then I know I’ve pretty much done my job right, and done right by the other people who’ve put their time, effort, money into the work. I mean, it’s made all the better by the fact that quite a lot of the folks I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over these past few years have rapidly become friends. So much so, I’ve got little creative weekenders in the calendar, or wine and cheese nights, or ‘working dates’ (i.e. crafting, editing, drinking afternoons) – it all keeps this whole NEWO project ticking over, and all the more fun for it.
Julian – “If money was no object what camera would you have”
Newo –It would be so tempting to go full obnoxious and get a Phase One… I do love the incredible level of detail I’ve seen from photographers using the XF system cameras… But then I’m also a stingy Northerner. I know money is no object, but still… OK sure, I guess if money is literally no object, we’ll blow the budget on some souped-up custom Phase One modular XF. Sod it. Give me that sexy medium format detail hahaha – if my budget also extends to lenses, I would like the Schneider Kreuznach 35mm LS f/3.5, and the 55mm LS f/2.8 while we’re at it.
Back in reality… I’ve thought about upgrading my camera for a while now. A lot of people don’t realise I don’t actually use a super expensive camera. I still use my trusty Canon 60D, and except from the odd shot, mostly kit lens and all. I have thought about this though – I’d like to move to the Sony A7 III – mainly for the dynamic range, something I always have to wrestle with a little bit with the Canon. While I’m not really fussed about the suuuuper high res of the A7R III, given the platforms I usually end up publishing on, or printing to, I’m a big fan of being somewhat pragmatic with what kind of kit you realistically need. Learn how to really use something well, and then treat yourself to expand your horizons I reckon.
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