Marlow-based photographer Gabrielle McMillan captures real moments as they unfold. Here, she tells us the secrets to looking good on camera, and why Tuesday G&Ts and really good light keep her ideas flowing.
Tell us a little about your work and your background?
I studied a Foundation in Art & Design with a view to becoming a painter - I had visions of living in Paris and creating in a loft apartment. I soon realised I wasn’t going to cut it as a painter as I spent most of my time in the darkroom... This led to a degree in photography and that was it. Four years of carrying a camera slung over my shoulder documenting everything, and I was hooked. I have a stack of visual diaries from that time.
I am so fortunate to have learnt the art of developing and shooting on film - by the time I graduated, digital photography took over. It has provided a strong base to move forward into the digital world, which I have embraced for 20 years following my degree. I now shoot weddings, events, small and large businesses, families - and I also still shoot on film for personal projects.
Where do you find inspiration and new ideas?
Light. Light inspires me. It can change the look, feel and mood of anything in moments. People inspire me, they always have, my friends, everyday life. While I was studying I would pour over photographers like Garry Winogrand, Nan Goldin and Martin Parr who found beauty, quirks and crisis in the everyday.
New ideas are all around. It’s just a case of being open enough to tap into them and having the space in your head to harness them. Easier said than done. That’s why taking time out is so important to process it all and turn it into something wonderful.
Describe your typical working day
Every day is varied, plus I have kids which makes for some fun times! I try to get up before them and answer emails and edit at night when they are in bed. I tend to shoot corporate and personal branding shoots for small businesses during the week and weddings or family portraits at the weekend.
At the moment, given the easing of restrictions it is mostly a seven day week. However, if I do get a free day I treat it as a weekend, therefore G&Ts on a Tuesday is not uncommon. I am learning how to enjoy the quiet times more and how to delegate when it's busy. Plus I am lucky to have a supportive husband. We co-parent the kids which makes it possible to be a full-time photographer.
What’s your biggest highlight and challenge to date?
There are a few challenges: tech issues, lighting at venues, the weather! Working with people who don’t like having their picture taken. All of these things we can work around. You learn to be flexible and adapt quickly!
I like to make people happy with the images I produce for them. They are trusting me to capture their story through my eyes. I want to document them
authentically, so they see how amazing they are as they are - that is always a highlight.
Top tips for looking your best on camera?
Meet your photographer beforehand so you feel more comfortable and familiar with them. That will go a long way in making you feel more relaxed.
For the actual shoot, be yourself and wear clothes that make you feel confident. Bring a friend along or just have someone to bounce off. Play music you like, anything that makes you feel happy.
My sessions are easy going. We chat, look at the photos on my camera to make sure we are on the same page and hopefully this makes people feel good and they will like what they see!
Where can we find out more?