behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography
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Behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography

Welcome to Behind the Scenes with Lucie Beck. A blog where behind the scenes knowledge is shared by various photographers around the world. We are all connected by our passion for photography and creativity. This weeks guest: Sarah Willcox from @sarahwillcoxphotography.

Can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Sarah; I am based in Auckland, New Zealand. My photography work is mainly focused on beauty and skincare brands. I love to play with natural light, liquid and flowers as well as soft feminine colours. Light and nature inspire my work.

behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography
behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography
behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography

How did you start with photography and how did you learn?

I did a bachelor of Fine Art and I majored in Photography. This was where I learned to be experimental and not be afraid to try new things with my work.

I lived in London for ten years and worked for a large fashion e-commerce site called Net-a-Porter, this is where I fell in love with taking photos of products.

I mostly shot fine jewellery handbags and beautiful shoes but I also learnt a lot about editing and processing my work.

This time really helped me with running my own business. A highlight was been able to travel to Milan and take photos in the fashion houses of Versace and Gucci. It was very fun.

behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography
behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography

Could you describe your style?

My style is soft, natural and interested in light and water flow.

What is your most favourite subject to photograph?

 I love to shoot skincare and in beautiful bottles and soft flower details.

How do you nurture your creativity?

Besides meditation, I am very inspired by creative women around the world. I also love to read and follow other artists on instagram. And I love the ocean and bush walks, we are very lucky to have some stunning ones here in New Zealand.

behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography

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Who or what inspires you?

I am always inspired by women who are leading in their creative journeys, fellow photographers and artists. I love the work of painter Joy Kinna, photographer Vicki Lee for her stunning flower art and meditations by Tara Brach.  Also Elena Brower for her stunning journals.

behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography
behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography

Do you have good tips regarding a portfolio? What do you think should be in it?

 I think it should be a nice mix of the variety of styles you can offer the client. It should be a representation of your style and make sure that the client will get a real feel for the look of your work.

I like to update my portfolio with new techniques I have tried and seem interesting and could offer something new. Some lovely natural light shots and some interesting studio work .

behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography

What is the important skill of a (product)photographer/ creative?

I think for me it’s trying new ideas, not being afraid to try things even if you have no idea how they will work. I often get drawn into new ideas when on Pinterest creating a mood board and seeing something that looks fun and then trying to work out how to shoot it and what props and techniques to use.

Often the initial idea changes once I start shooting but the process helps to move me into the shot I need and love. When I edit my work I try to use the images with something magic.

Whether it’s the  light or the perfect splash sometimes it takes 50 shots to get that one that works. It’s the process to get to that one shot that I love.

behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography

How do you find your clients? What is your ideal client?

 I find a lot of clients via Instagram and I have also reached out to brands I would love to work with both in New Zealand and overseas. 

My ideal client trusts me with creating the work that most suits their range. They give clear direction with a moodboard they like and then allow me to just go away and create the work. I am lucky that I have some regular brands that I work with that allow me to do just this.

How much time do you spend on social media and which channels do you use the most?

I definitely spend too much time on instagram!! Trying to work on that. I also like to watch tutorials on YouTube and I love Pinterest for mood board inspiration.

behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography

"I feel a bit like a mad scientist each time I do an underwater shoot."

Sarah Willcox
behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography
behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography

Do you have good tips for creatives who are just starting their journey/ business?

 Don’t be afraid to reach out to brands you want to work with and offer your services for a good rate to start off with, you can then use those images to promote yourself and gain more work. Don’t be scared to just start shooting; you don’t need a fancy studio or an amazing website in the beginning. Instagram is a great platform to showcase your work and to build a client base.

behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography

How do you make sure you find a balance between leisure/home and work?

Balance is very hard. I work for myself and have two boys aged 5 and 8. I have had to give up a lot of weekends but I have an amazing partner who supports my dream of having my own business.

When you love what you do you don’t mind staying up retouching into the night. I do however get very stressed if I have a lot on so I have tried to not overcommit to too many jobs at once and I try to make exercise and meditation a part of my everyday routine.

Want to improve your productphotography?

Join MyLucie membership and get access to all the knowledge needed

What brand and model of the (favourite) equipment you are using?

I shoot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark 1V and love my Canon 50 mm 1.4 lens and also my Canon 100m Macro.

For editing I work with Capture One editing software and love this too. I use natural light and three to four studio lights with diffusers, softboxes and hard light depending on the shoot.

behind the scenes with @sarahwillcoxphotography

Do you have special tips about product photography?

I really love to play with natural light as there is something so special about natural soft shadows.  If you can learn to mix it with studio work it can offer a lovely variety to your work and it can really make an image shine.

Also experiment with liquids. I love the beauty moving water can add to your shots. Just have fun and see how things turn out.

For my moving water shots I use a fish tank and some large acrylic trays. I light the fishtank from either side with two softboxes and an overhead light. I then add a little tube and blow bubbles into the tank. It can take an hour or two to get the shot.  I use my Jenbei DPslll Studio Flash 600w lights. I have 4 of these.

Working with water requires testing and shooting multiple times to get the perfect splash.
It’s a lot of trial and error as you need to try and get the label on the bottle sharp and the splash not covering too much of the product.

I think that’s what I find so rewarding about these shots. It’s usually when you look back over the 50 you take that you find this one where all the factors fit. It’s sharp, the splash is the perfect shape and it has the impact you are looking for. You feel like a bit of a mad scientist doing an experiment each time you shoot these.

What lessons did you learn along the way?

Trust your instincts, don’t take the shot if you think something needs to change.

Don’t be afraid to speak up if a client asks for something and you don’t think it will work. Don’t send in anything you are not really proud of , your work represents you and it should all be of a really high standard.  

Lastly it would be to shoot work that you love, you spend so many hours per day working you want the studio to be a place that you are excited to go to each day. I love that I go to sleep thinking of ideas for a shoot and the time I spend working is just so much fun. Life is to short to not be having fun,

Here you can find Sarah Willcox:

Website: sarahwillcox.com

Instagram: @sarahwillcoxphotography

Want to improve your productphotography?

Join MyLucie membership and get access to all the knowledge needed

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