ARTISTIC VIGILANTE – What is your full name and how long have you been shooting for?
Joanna Sellick – My name is Joanna Claire Sellick (Photography by Joanna Claire), and I first picked up a camera when I was sixteen. I became fascinated with self-portraits and fantasy photography, but unfortunately gave it up to go ‘learn to be an adult.’ In 2017, realized I’d made a big mistake & started taking photos again. I would say I’ve been shooting seriously for almost 2 years now.
ARTISTIC VIGILANTE – We noticed that your preferred camera is the A7R & you proudly have ‘professional Sony user’ in your biography, can you explain the attachment to the brand and would you say it is an integral part of your works?
Joanna Sellick – I was super fortunate last year to have Sony – of all people! – notice my little Instagram. At the time, I was shooting on a Canon. After trying out the kit, I decided to invest in the A7R iii and have never looked back. I think you can see a significant leap in the quality of my work when I started using the A7R iii. Colour toning is such an important part of my style, and I love that the RAW files on the Sony give me so much flexibility when it comes to controlling that side of the editing.
Joanna Sellick – I love encouraging people to take up photography – especially self-portraits. Sony is giving me the platform to reach more people through seminars and workshops around the UK, talking about self-portraiture and finding magic in the everyday. I also had the opportunity to speak onthe Sonystage at The Photography Show in Birmingham this year, with a talk on narrative creation.
ARTISTIC VIGILANTE – What is it like being a female photographer in the United Kingdom, are there any limitations or advantages?
Joanna Sellick – I think it’s a real advantage being a woman in Fine Art photography right now. There are so many iconic female photographers in the industry at the moment, which is why I think I was so drawn to it. Most of my biggest inspirations are women, and it’s incredibly empowering to be following in their footsteps. We are seeing more and more women stepping into the light and standing their ground in photography. There is also an amazing photographic community in the UK, both men and women. I regularly meet so many talented creatives of all levels, who are ready to jump in and support each other.
ARTISTIC VIGILANTE – Why did you decide to go into mainly self portrait photography and fantasy?
Joanna Sellick – I was inspired by the people on Flickr doing self-portraits when I first fell in love with photography, i was awkward and self-conscious, I loved how confident these artists were who could just take photos of themselves and post them on the internet. It leaves you feeling quite vulnerable, but it’s also really rewarding when you make connections with other people in the community because you were brave enough to leave yourself open like that. When I picked up photography again in 2017, I wasn’t feeling the best about myself & had low self-esteem. I decided I was sick of treating myself that way, so taking self-portraits became a way of building my confidence.
As well as changing the way I saw myself, my self-portraits became a way to express and explore my emotions. When I became deeply upset or overwhelmed, I challenged myself to put those feelings into a visual piece. The whole process is incredibly therapeutic, and helps me work though the issues that made me feel that way in the first place. When something amazing happened, I started creating self-portraits that reflected my happiness, as a way to capture the moment.
ARTISTIC VIGILANTE – A lot of your pictures are taken in the woods , have a lot of photo manipulation and composite structure, Can you explain a little more?
Joanna Sellick – Sure! Firstly, I always have an idea of what I want to shoot before I go out. I try to shoot as much as I can in-camera so I don’t have to rely on finding stock photos later. I’ll usually do a sketch beforehand to help me work out what props I need and what shots I’ll have to take when I’m there. For example, for a levitation photo, I know I’ll need a dress that floats well, a prop for added interest, and a stool to ‘levitate’ on. Then, while I’m shooting I get the actual photo set-up, as well as separate shots of my dress and hair ‘floating’ an empty background shot to photoshop me levitating onto and any extra props I may want to add in later. Then I stitch it all together in Photoshop. Sometimes a composite can be made up of ten photos if I am using a lot of props.
ARTISTIC VIGILANTE – Studying your works, we see that you do a lot of outdoor themes. Do you intend to do indoor portraiture in the future?
Joanna Sellick – Honestly, shooting indoors doesn’t interest me that much – although I’m happy to if I find a good location. I find something really peaceful about shooting outside, even if it does cause problems you can’t always predict, such as weather or nosey onlookers. I spend so much of my life indoors and on computers that going out to explore and create art in nature is such a welcome breath of fresh air. Also, I adore fairytales so the woods are usually where most of the narrative stories I come up with take place.
ARTISTIC VIGILANTE – Looking at your Cinderella themed shot, we noticed a huge attention to details, could you please deconstruct this image for us, and explain the entire process involved?
Joanna Sellick – This is one of my favorite pieces! It’s actually way simpler than it looks. This all took place in a beautiful woodland near my home. I started by taking photos of myself (with help from an assistant) running on the spot, glancing behind me and deliberately positioning myself off to the right so I could edit the clock in later. The dress in this photo is actually pink, and doesn’t flow too well, so there’s probably about three shots of the dress stitched together in this photo. I think I also added in extra hair from another shot because I wasn’t happy with how it fell in the original. The clock is a real prop that is probably only 15 cm tall. I had to put it on the ground where I had just photographed myself, and shoot it head-on. In Photoshop, I changed the colour of my dress to Cinderella blue, cut out the clock, then resized it to look giant next to Cinderella. After that, I spend a while colour toning. In this case, I wanted to get rid of all of the green and orange from the woodland in the original shot, and made the image much darker with blue tones.
ARTISTIC VIGILANTE – Your editing skill is very intricate and amazing; can you tell us the resources that you have used to get to this point?
Joanna Sellick – Thank you! A lot of it has been watching YouTube tutorials and then just playing around in Photoshop. There’s so much content out there now, you can Google any tip or technique and it’ll show you exactly how to do it. I also think it’s really important to learn from other creatives, and I’ve done a lot of workshops with photographers I admire to learn how they shoot and set-up. Art isn’t just about the technicalities, it’s about finding motivation to create art and write the story behind it. Some lessons are best taught in person.
ARTISTIC VIGILANTE – Artists have a desire to have their works seen by a large audience, what steps are you taking to get yourself globally recognized?
Joanna Sellick – Basically, anything I can do to get my name out there! I’m still putting work into my Instagram, as I think it’s such a good tool for showcasing work and making connections. I have really pushed to get work properly published in magazines & competitions this year . One of the best ways, I think is to get involved in the community. I go to free meet-ups as well as paid events, and talk to as many people in the industry as I can. My goal for next year is to try and double the amount of talks/seminars I’m doing, and start organizing workshops so I can engage with even more photographers.
ARTISTIC VIGILANTE – Are you a full time photographer or do you have a business on the side, if yes what do you charge for photography sessions?
Joanna Sellick – My fine art work is mostly an elaborate hobby for the time being, but I’m hoping to expand it into the small side business I have as a photographer by working with more brands. I also do portrait sessions with access to my fantasy wardrobe starting from £120, and charge £75 to create a ‘One of Kind’ photos in the style of my self-portraits.
ARTISTIC VIGILANTE – What advice do you have for young female photographers looking to be in your same field?
Joanna Sellick – Embrace what makes you weird, and don’t flinch when people think you are strange. Artists do weird things for their art, which a lot of people won’t understand. I spend majority of my weekends in my local woods, running around in giant ballgowns, so many people give me strange looks as they walk past with no idea I have followers who like & comment on every photo I post, or that I’ve been published in magazines and flown out to various countries for events.
And never let anyone tell you your dreams are unrealistic. Dreams only remain a fantasy if you don’t put the work into them.
Thank you for publishing with artistic vigilante. We do hope you publish all your new projects with us in the future.
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