Q & A with Fiona Alison
Long time customer and friend of TFC Fiona Alison has been a professional photographer specialising in Children Fashion, Advertising , Editiorial and Portraiture since 1980. Her work has taken her all over the world and she is now a well known international lecturer.
We asked Fiona a few questions about her long career and she has kindly shared some thoughts with us... Thank you Fiona!
How and why did you become a photographer?
It all happened through sheer chance. I had never before used a camera and when I was given my first one for Christmas 1979 I took photos of my daughter. These images of her, shot with available light in my sitting room, on my first ever roll of film, were, at the invitation of the manager, exhibited in the ‘Abbey National Building Society Windows near my home. From that point on, in January1980, I received commissions and worked initially in my sitting room with available light. My family soon moved me into the garage, where I learned, primarily, to use one electronic flash with an umbrella and a reflector. I became known through two major National Award successes (Kodak and 3M) and by the end of 1982 I had needed to take a studio in the West End of London.
You are very well known for your child photography, what attracted you to this genre of photography?
I was attracted to the genre when my two children were photographed by two of my husband’s advertising clients.
Children and animals are notoriously hard to work with, do you have any advice for how to get 'the shot'?
Patience; chat during the shoot to build up the children’s confidence; don’t talk down to them; make the shoot an enjoyable experience; make them feel important and part of the action.
How has the industry changed throughout your career?
The industry has changed greatly from darkroom and film to digital. It’s called progress and it’s brilliant. Equipment has changed beyond belief - now more portable, more compact, faster and a joy to use. Computers are loved and hated in turn. Most people have a camera, or a camera in their mobile phone or ipad. Photoshop – an amazing facility – has replaced the expensive retouching of film and, used in capable hands, produces wonders. However, get it right in the camera is still the best advice and first requisite.
What is the best and worst thing about being a photographer?
Best – having a successful career in the work I love.
Worst- taking my ‘book’ around before I had an agent.
If you could pass on some words of wisdom to emerging photographers what would they be?
Delight the client. Be responsible, reliable and work hard. Learn to deal with difficult clients and sitters. Don’t’ get ‘self-important. Remember you are only as good as your last job.
What piece of equipment could you not live without?
Apart from my camera, I couldn’t do without my Elinchrom lighting, and now since digital, I’d find it difficult without my Elinchrom Skyport transmitters and transceivers and their facility to adjust the lighting remotely–no sync leads to trip over or tread on ever again!
Fiona Alison June 2014