Making Beautiful Images - An interview with Susan Grace Hinman
Q What kind of shoot excites you as a photographer?
I love photographing people and showing them a whole new way to see themselves. I love the confidence that a photoshoot with a good photographer can do... I love watching people transform in front of the camera- when I get them to come out of their shell and really reveal themselves. It is an amazing thing to watch and I never get bored of it!
Q What influences your style of photography?
I love the work of Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz, Ellen Von Unwerth, Kai York, Bob Carlos Clark, Herb Ritts are all inspirational as well as the amazing educators on Creative Live which I find an invaluable resource. I'm more definitely more influenced by fashion photography than other fitness photographers.
I have a background in sculpture. I studied it at University in Toronto, Canada where I am from originally. I love creating shapes and sculpting the body with light and shadow. I think this is why fitness photography particular appeals to me. Bodybuilders and athletes push themselves to the limit to shape and sculpt their bodies so photographing their already sculpted physiques really lends itself to creating beautiful images.
Q What was your introduction to the fitness industry?
I very much happened upon it by accident. I was trying to think of a new project one January- which is a terrible month for portrait photographers as most people eat too much over the holidays, get spotty and feel bloated and pale. The last thing your average couch potato wants is a photo shoot! That was when I met Francis Williams, a personal trainer in Brighton who works at the Underground Gym. We arranged several shoots together and from there I learned a lot more about this amazing industry. I'd been shooting mostly fashion and burlesque photo shoots at that time so it was a totally new industry for me... I found it really inspiring and the people within the industry are so driven and have such self belief I loved it right from the beginning.
As discussed, you do fitness shoots...but your work is very varied....what's the craziest thing you have done with your job?
The highest profile and most stressful job I've ever done was when I was chosen as one of 5 photographers to photograph the Commonwealth 2018 Summit in London. I was lucky enough to photograph 54 heads of state the Royal Family as well as numerous other influential people in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, St James Castle and other venues around London. It was an amazing thrill and such a privilege to be asked to do so.
One of the craziest shoots I'm doing this week is a Twisted Circus- KinkyCarnival Fashion shoot where I am taking 8 models and a film crew to a beach hut on Hove seafront to create some crazy original images.
Q-I see a lot of fitness photographers have a set style, how would you describe your signature style?
I try to make my work unique. I don't like everyone to have the same photo as anyone else. When I shoot women particularly I want them to look strong and sexy and confident but to really let their femininity and unique personality shine through.
Q-Do you have set idea's in your mind about fitness shots or do prefer ad lib?
Until you actually meet the model it is difficult to know what they will be capable of- So I tend to try and keep an open mind until I meet them... Saying that I always have a massive load of ideas I am always waiting for the right person to come along so I can try them out!
Q You make women look so sexy and beautiful, how do you get ladies to release their potential?
I think that after the relaxing process of having your make up and hair done people are usually a bit anxious but they know they look their best. When I start to photograph them I help them to pose and to make the most of their bodies. I explain through out why I am getting them into certain poses and we always have a laugh during the shoot. It is loads of fun and I think every woman should have a photo shoot at some time in their lives so they can feel how amazing the process feels and see how amazing they can look when they go to a good photographer.
Q- Do you prefer studio shoots or location shoots?
I love them both for totally different reasons. The studio is great as it is totally controlled... Models feel safe and you can build a set there. Location shoots are amazing too for the unpredictability and the stories and atmosphere that the location adds to the photos. I particularly love shooting in Boutique Hotels... though sometimes the lighting is tricky.
What is your dream photo shoot?
My dreams are always changing! At the moment it is to create a Dusk Til Dawn inspired shoot with one of Chrissie's designs and a gorgeous albino Boa! We will likely do this this summer!
My other dreams would be to shoot on some exotic beaches around the world and other breathtaking locations. I will be planning some of these this winter.
What is your super power?
My superpower?I make people look and feel amazing.
Susan Grace Hinamn is a Canadian born portrait photographer working in Brighton and Hove. UK. She specializes in making women look beautiful and sassy.