Interview with London-based Photographer Liam Ricketts
Liam Ricketts is a London based photographer, who specialises in portraiture and lifestyle work.
Liam has worked for a variety of high profile clients, including Sony, Universal, Warp Records, Leo Burnett, M&C Saatchi, Isobar, Nike, Adidas and New Balance. Liam was given his first camera aged 9 by his grandfather, and has been taking pictures ever since.
I actually taught Liam when he was at college and it’s a real joy to see his career going so well! I caught up with Liam to ask him more about his photography.
What made you decide to become a photographer? Was it something you’d always been interested in?
I luckily knew I wanted to be a photographer from a young age. I studied photography at college (under the legendary Jo Plumridge, who let me come and assist her for a day hah!) and from there I went to the Arts University at Bournemouth, for the last part of my formal education.
I think I always had an interest in photography, but at university something clicked. Bournemouth was very ‘sink or swim’ in the sense that you would either make it work or not. In the second year of university, I would be shooting for clients, which meant most of my time was spent on the National Express up to Victoria, whilst working weekends as a fridge salesman. When I graduated, a few others and myself hit the ground running and took our portfolios to clients.
You’ve achieved a lot of success for one so young – how did you build up so many impressive clients?
For me it’s about having a ridiculous work ethic. I’ve read a lot of interviews and lectures that touch on the subject of working hard. Anyone that I know who’s making photography or anything creative/business minded work knows you need to work hard around the clock. Everything around me is hollow and can fall through at any minute, so I need to work constantly. I have no affluent family members to bail me out when shit hits the fan, so I really try to be frugal and spend wisely.
Are you a fan of studio lighting, or do you prefer to work with natural light?
I’m up for studio work or natural light. Working with big clients means I need to ‘recreate’ daylight when it’s stormy and I’m covered in sideways wind. I’ll try to use natural light, but I’ll have a few tricks to throw in a bit of daylight into pictures.
You’ve just shot the New Balance 247 campaign. Tell us a bit about that.
I was approached by New Balance to create a campaign based around their new shoe, the ‘247’, which is for busy people, to be worn 24 hours a day, from sun up to sun down. Initially I said no to the project, as I had other commitments, but then I said yes and the deal was done! A few weeks later, I was on my most intense international photoshoot to date – 4 campaigns, 3 countries, 2 agency staff, plus me. We flew from London to New York, recce’d locations, shot the next day for 14 hours, then I was on a delayed 14 hour flight to Shanghai!
What are you working on next? Do you have any particular projects you’d like to shoot?
I’ve just finished a large European trip with New Balance, which will roll out in a few months time. There are always projects happening. I think being creative means looking to the future. If you have a style that is starting to fade out or work disappears, where do you turn to next? I’d like to shoot more personal work, but at the moment I’m hopping from project to project, with little time to create a new body of work.
Have you got any tips for those starting out in the business?
Work your flipping socks off! Attend photographic events and places of interest. If you want to shoot with magazines, try and infiltrate the clients you want to work with. This industry is all based on relationships. You’ll find that work will come in through having a good connection with people.
Any final thoughts?
Surround yourself with people on your course who you can bounce ideas off and borrow equipment from. That will save you in the next few years / forever!