Behind The Lens: Mollie
For Behind The Lens, London-based photographer and creative director Mollie is often celebrated for her affinity for bringing the world of beauty and fashion together in her works. Like several other creatives who stumble into the line of work, Mollie uses her photography as both a vehicle for artistic expression and as a tool to examine her own sense of identity within youth culture.
Whether shooting Venessa Blair for French Connection, capturing emerging labels such as Millie Jane and Orelia, or creating dreamy portraits, Mollie uncovers the moments of cinematic glory hidden in everyday life. Bringing her unique perspective into the world of fashion and lifestyle, she simply has a daringly direct approach that many can appreciate. “The most important part of photography—and especially portraiture—is the person behind the lens,” she tells us. At the heart of her work is a mission to document the ever-changing landscapes of the youth, and look back with a sense of enjoyment seeing the fruits of her labor.
Mollie chats with us in regards to owning her talent as a photographer, establishing trust with her muses, and finding fulfillment amongst other topics. Check out our conversation below.
What got you into photography in the first place? Was it your first choice for a career or something you stumbled upon?
I’ve always had a huge vivid imagination and loved art. Photography really started when I was bought my first camera—it was pink and had a slide-across lens, classic—on my 12th birthday, and spent the next few weeks glued to the thing. I never really stopped after that.
My first ever full-time job was straight from school working in a family portrait studio, and even though your typical mum, dad, and two kids combo wasn’t quite where I wanted to be… I learned everything about photography and photoshop, and most importantly how to shoot with anyone which I’m forever grateful for.
Talk to us about discovering your voice and owning your talent as a photographer—was it an easy journey?
Impostor syndrome is a bitch! That little “am I even good enough?” voice in your head is a hard one to keep quiet, but I’ve got to the point where I can definitely put it in its place. My little Instagram community is such a blessing and the support that I recieve on socials always gives me that boost if I’m ever feeling flat with self-confidence in my work. I have to remind myself there is nothing wrong with being self-assured and confident in yourself and your work!
What inspired you to document fashion and beauty amongst an array of other things in your work?
I’ve always loved photographing people. How cool that I get to portray a personality into a portrait? I think it was through studying Photography and Art that I fell in love with the work of some of the biggest fashion photographers such as Annie Leibovitz and Tim Walker, which mixed art fantasy and fashion together. Their work inspires so many of my creative projects.
How do you establish trust with your models and create a safe space for everyone involved in a shoot?
Having clients feel comfortable prior to and during a shoot with me is my main priority. The best feedback for me is being told “I felt so comfortable and at ease shooting with you” or “I’ve had the best day, it was so much fun!” I always arrange a call prior to shooting so that the client can get an idea of how I work, my personality and run through any questions they have, that’s key especially if I’m shooting with a model or client that isn’t overly experienced with shoots.
During a shoot, I’m constantly checking in on my subject and making sure they feel comfortable and have all their needs met. Photoshoots can be a very intimate space and I always think, “what would I need right now if it was me in front of the camera?” and that always helps me create the best environment for my subject.
What are some roadblocks you’ve had to overcome since starting your photography career?
Definitely negative comparison! It’s so easy to get caught up with doubting your own work, especially when social media now means you’re being bombarded and forced into looking at what everyone else is up to. I think I’ve got to the point now where I’m confident and proud of my work and the Photographer I’m becoming, even though I’m not quite where I want to be, I’m loving the journey of getting there. Art is subjective. As long as I love the work I’m creating, really that’s all that matters, right?
In your opinion, does the type of camera and lens actually matter?
In simple terms: fuck no. It can definitely help, but the most important part of photography—and especially portraiture—is the person behind the lens. Don’t ever underestimate the power of creating that relationship with your subject, that’s really where the magic happens.
Your portfolio is abundant with photos that capture people’s attention and make an impact, especially in the age of social media. What are some of your favorite shoots thus far?
I love that! For me, one of my favorite ever shoots was this. This is actually my little cousin Rhianna. The whole point of this shoot was because I was feeling super drained from overworking myself last summer and needed to create some projects that were for me and my creativity only. Rhianna used to be my guinea pig whenever I wanted to experiment with my first camera back when I was in my early teens, so what better way to experiment all these years later—now that I finally understand what aperture means. Besides this, I absolutely love this portrait, she looks like a mythical goddess.
As a photographer and creative director, how do you find fulfillment in your work as difficult as it may be at times?
I think being able to see the outcome out hard work is what makes my job so enjoyable and fulfilling. Even the most challenging of jobs, I get to physically look back at the set of images I’ve created with an amazing team and think “Yep, that was so worth it.” It’s the best feeling.
What advice could you give someone in regards to overcoming hurdles and being as consistent as someone such as yourself?
Post your work. Stop waiting until you’re perfect, it will never happen. Being confident in yourself and your work doesn’t make you arrogant. Be nice to everyone but be nicer to yourself. Remember you cannot pour from an empty cup and burnout is the biggest bitch! I wish someone had told me that sooner.
Besides that, the moment you stop having fun with it is the moment you know there’s an issue. After all, being a photographer is fucking great.