An Interview with Florence Finburgh
“I will never have a studio, because I want my images to be different,” says Florence Finburgh, a portrait photographer based in London. The talented fashion wholesaler-turned mom-turned photographer credits her career to her two children: Sebastian, 16 in June, and Mathilda, 12. “I just love being surrounded by children, and I think it’s the innocence that every child expresses that is just so wonderful.”
We learned the secrets to her successful portrait photography business and why she will never have a studio.
How did you learn photography?
I’m completely self-taught and learned by practice mainly on my children. I think that’s the best way because you don’t get influenced by anyone and you can really find your style. That is important because you can get lost when you look at other people’s work and think, ‘oh I just want to be like her,’ and then you take the same images but it doesn’t really suit you.
Who are your main clientele?
I specialize in pregnancy, newborn babies, children and family portraiture, and I’m also a school photographer for different schools in London.
Which is the most difficult to shoot?
Newborns. I do quite a lot of newborn photography, which is completely different than [photographing] children because with a newborn session, you’re much more involved with the parents. What I like to do is show the love between the parents and the child; I think it’s very important. It’s very tricky. It’s probably the most challenging part of my job, but it’s also the one I enjoy the most.
What is your secret to getting children to stay still and smile?
You have to make them feel at ease and feel comfortable, especially since I do a lot of close-ups. I’m very much involved with the child when I take their portrait. I think also if you work with children, it’s best to work alone and not have the parents around. The last thing you want is to have the parent behind you saying ‘Say cheese!’ I think children react differently when they’ve got their parents around. I also like to praise them to say that they do a good job because it gives them confidence, which is very important.
Nikon or Canon?
When I was 18 my father gave me a film camera so I started with Nikon. Now I shoot with D3S, but I’m planning to upgrade to a D4S. The lens I use for most of my shoots are the two prime lenses: the 50 and the 85, the 1.4.
What products are your bestsellers?
I sell a lot of prints as small as 5×7 and up to 12×10. I also offer hand-painted frames which are actually my bestsellers. I didn’t want to offer a frame my clients could find anywhere. The frames I offer are hand-painted and hand-picked by me.
What is the secret special sauce you use in your photography?
I never use any flash or any reflectors, so I really have to understand the light. I also don’t have a studio. I want the challenge of actually not knowing where I’m going. Some of my images are shot in parks. We’ve got so many beautiful parks in London or outside London that are fantastic. A lot of my family sessions are done at private homes or in the garden.
If you’re an artist, you really can see the world differently. I’m constantly shooting or admiring what’s around me, whether it’s people walking, interacting with their children or even nature. It’s just the beauty of the world, and that inspires me tremendously in my work.
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Florence Finburgh is a portrait photographer based in London. For more information visit her website at www.florencefinburghphotography.com