The Instaview | Meet the photographer behind your favourite #OOTDs
Let’s be honest, the best outfit action is found on Instagram. With every scroll, a new source of inspiration pops up armed with a grid of sepia-filtered pictures. Street style stars posing against beautiful backgrounds make us ooh and ahh and reach for our credit cards, but we often don’t think about the person *behind* the camera, the one who makes everyday moments so darn pretty.
Step forward Amber-Rose Smith. This avid photographer is barely in her twenties and already she’s shot mega bloggers from Tanya Burr to In The Frow and worked with heavyweight brands including Burberry, ASOS and Google. With the rise of influencers making a lucrative living from their feeds, it’s little wonder photographers like Amber-Rose are being snapped up to mastermind double-tap worthy shots.
So for this week’s Instaview, who better to give us an Instagram insight than the lady herself? Because as well as nailing the #OOTD, Amber has become my go-to source for all things Instagrammable. The best doortrait in town? Where to get a photogenic cappuccino? Amber has the answer (and you need to start following her, immediately). It also helps that she’s one of the sweetest, cheeriest ladies to have a cuppa with…
Hello! For starters, tell us how you first got into photography…
It’s been a serious passion of mine since I was 12 years old. I used to watch my dad taking photos — it was a hobby of his. I remember being captivated by family photo albums and how a moment had been frozen in time. At 18, I got an internship working with Rankin and the rest is history…
Since then, how has your photography style developed?
I try to focus on enhancing the natural beauty of people and environments, but my style adapts to fit who and what I am working on.
What’s your favourite thing to shoot?
Humans! I love how diverse and unique people can be in front of a camera. Photos can show the very raw nature of a person and I love to capture that individuality and bring out someone’s personality, style and charisma.
Is there a time of day when you most love to shoot?
Golden Hour has always been my favourite. The effect a sunset can create is entirely unique and I love having the chance to play with natural backlighting as well as incorporating sun flares into a photo. Each sunset is different, so you won’t capture the same shot twice. Midday is also a great time, when the sun is at its brightest. But I rarely shoot in direct sunlight because it causes intense and contrasting shadows.
So we all want to know: what makes the perfect OOTD backdrop?
I always look for a well-lit street with textured walls, preferably brick, and nice pavements – cobblestones are my favourite. I like to have a point of interest behind the person to really make them stand out.
Do you plan your locations before shooting or is it a matter of luck (and a lot of scouring)?
It totally depends on who and what I’m shooting. The project I’m working on might be very specific so I’ll have all the locations set out beforehand. Other times, we’ll chose an area to shoot in then wander around until we find a location that we like and suits the subject. It’s always good to have an idea of what you’re after first though.
The job involves a lot of travelling – where’s your favourite place to shoot?
I’ve been so fortunate to shoot in a variety of countries this year. Santorini was incredible, it would be near impossible to shoot something bad there.
Where would be your dream destination?
I would love to visit LA and Joshua Tree. Cuba and the Maldives would also make pretty great backdrops. There is so much of the world to see and I want to capture it all!
Speaking of which, what’s been your biggest pinch-me moment so far?
I’ll never forget when I was interning at Rankin and we had a shoot with One Direction. I don’t usually get starstruck, but I was totally lost for words!
Instagram is a great place to showcase your work. How has had it an effect on your career?
I always ask when shooting with someone new, whether it’s an influencer or a brand, how they came across my work. I find more and more that their answer is Instagram. It’s amazing that I am able to use a social media network to showcase my business and use it for free self promotion.
Are you conscious of having an Instagram theme?
Yes. Although I’m not sure I’ve managed to convey one! I try to create a mix of work projects alongside what’s currently going on in my life. I always incorporate people into my feed, whether it’s me or influencers I’ve shot, as well as a few Instagram cliches. You can’t go wrong with the Liberty flower stand!
And an Instagrammable coffee shop! Any you’d recommend?
My favourite at the moment is Department of Coffee and Social Affairs (@deptofcoffee). Their coffee art is very Instagram-worthy and often appears on my feed. Farm Girl Cafe in Notting Hill (@farmgirlcafe) also makes for a very pretty picture. The next coffee shop on my hit list is Palm Vaults in Hackney (@palmvaults), not least because the pink bathroom looks incredible!
Let’s talk filters! Which is your favourite?
I used to love ‘Valencia’ on Instagram because of the warmth and glow it creates, but my current favourite is F2/Mellow on the VSCO app. I like the tones and the contrast it immediately adds to your photo. I usually have the filter at around +4/+6.
Do you use any other apps to edit?
I mainly use Instagram itself, especially the ‘edit’ features to adjust elements like contrast, highlights and brightness. I occasionally use VSCO, but I never use the filters at their full strength.
Do you find it important to Instagram regularly?
Yes, I aim to Instagram daily, I admit I’m slightly obsessed! I also try to publish a new post on my blog each week (amber-rosephotography.blogspot.co.uk). It tends to take a back seat when I’m busy, but when I do post, I try to make sure the content is interesting and engaging and of course, that the images are of the best quality.
Anything you’ve seen on Instagram and want to buy?
All the damn time! I think even more so now that Instagram Stories exists. I message people immediately if I see a look they’ve posted and want to buy it. It’s the perfect platform for getting outfit inspiration and there’s nothing quite like it for causing an impulse buy!
I hear ya! And finally, how do you switch off?
I’m not sure I know how to switch off to be honest! Social media has become such a vital part of our everyday lives that I check my accounts instinctively. But that isn’t always a bad thing. I find so much inspiration through Instagram and love discovering new influencers or places to visit. If I seriously need to switch off though, I like to be transported somewhere else via a good book or TV drama. And yes, step away from the phone!
Thanks for the chats Amber, we’ll see you on Instagram!
We do the scrolling. You do the shopping.
Love shopping? Hate scrolling? No problem! I’ve done the hard work for you and found where you can shop the selfies of Instagram’s biggest stars. Thanks to my hand-picked edit, it’s never been easier to get the fashioninsta look directly from the ‘gram. Go on, you know you wanna…