Fashion Photographer Lance Burkitt
Lemontrend speaks with Lance Burkitt, a Celebrity & fashion photographer and the owner and editor of Ascendance Magazine, to discuss his personal and professional transformation from a musician to a celebrity and fashion photographer and what is the concept behind Ascendance Magazine.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you got started in photography?
I have always been a creative type. I was a musician before damaging my ears in the late 1990s. I messed around doing regular day jobs for a few years but missed the creative buzz that being a musician gave me. I fell into photography by accident, although I have always loved taking photos; I’d never thought about doing it for a living. It gave me back the creative outlet that I had lost after retiring from music.
How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?
Quality, interesting, real, technical, honest.
At what point did you realize that photography is what you wanted to do as a career?
Within a few months after getting my 1st real camera in my early 30’s I’d decided to open my studio and begin photographing people. It was at this point I realized how much I loved it and wanted to pursue it as a career.
What are the biggest challenges of working in the United Kingdom?
Being based in the North of the UK is one of the biggest challenges. Most of the real action happens in London and getting clients to come north is extremely difficult. It is often impossible for me to get to them in London too. I miss out on a lot of opportunities because of my location, but it is just not feasible to move south. Getting people at the top (Editors, agents, decision-makers) to give you a minute of their time is also quite a challenge.
Your projects are a collaborative process. Tell us what it is like always to be working with new stylists, models, and designers.
It’s exciting, challenging, and when I work it is quite liberating. I do use a regular team of creative people who I trust; that’s very important to me. Occasionally I will bring in new people, but I try never to bring them in on a photo shoot where the final images matter, so I tend to do that for test shoots. Models are the unknown factor. Most models are extremely good at what they do, occasionally though a model can be hard work for some reason, which is when things can get a little tricky. It is my job as a photographer to get the best out of the model; to get what I or that the client wants. If I can do that then the images will pretty much shoot themselves, if I can’t then it can be a real struggle to get anything usable from the shoot.
What kind of impact do you hope to make in the fashion world in the next 10-15 years?
I hope that the quality and style of my images will win out and that the right people in the right places will begin to notice that I am doing. I would like to think that in 15 years’ time people may speak my name in the same vein as Mr. Bailey and co, but we will just have to see.
What does fashion mean to you?
I photograph fashion, which means I don’t have to partake in it outside of that, luckily. I am no fashionista! I am happy with jeans and a t-shirt. So you could say to me fashion means I get to be creative, it’s my job, my vocation. Without fashion, I may end up just being another wedding photographer, or not…
What projects are you working on now?
I am currently working on producing some fashion sets for the magazine using locations. If you look at the location work of Mario Testino, you won’t be far away from what I am trying to achieve.
How much equipment do you typically bring to a photo-shoot?
Minimal if I can. If I’m on location, I’ll take a camera or two, perhaps a flashgun or a few portable lights. If it’s a studio shoot then, I would have all the equipment needed for that, including various lights and modifiers, but generally speaking, I travel light. I rarely use assistants; I enjoy doing my stunts.
What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
My biggest influence would be David Bailey, especially his portraits. I always thought that if I could get people to give me what they give him, then I would be a success. I also love the advertising work or Richard Avedon; he was a genius at that. Mario Testino’s work is also very real; I like that about his work.
What makes a great fashion photograph?
Everything in the image needs to be right, not perfect, just right. You need to have the right model, the right pose, hair, makeup, styling, location and of course lighting and composition. If you fail on any one part of that, the photograph is pretty much useless. But in the end, without a great photographer, you cannot have a great fashion photo.
Tell us about your magazine
Ascendance magazine was born out of my frustration at the lack of publication opportunities being offered to amazing but as a yet unestablished creative talent, especially in the north of the UK. So I decided to start a magazine myself to fill that gap. It is still in the early stages, but it is going in the right direction. Whatever happens with the success of the magazine, I will ensure that it always remains true to the reason it was created.
What is the difference between your magazine and the rest?
Ascendance is simply a publishing platform for up and coming talent, from models through to writers. Other more established magazines tend to not take this kind of risk, and will only employ people already established (And well published) in their field. We have no agenda, other than to publish quality work. We are not endorsing anything, other than the magazine, so we don’t have to use a known face to publish it. We specialize in Fashion, Beauty and portrait images and the stories of those we photograph.
What sort of message do you want to spread with your Magazine?
There is so much untapped creative talent out there. People just need to be given a place where they can view and enjoy it. That is what Ascendance Magazine was created for.