TEZI TQ ~ with TIGZ RICE!
Hello readers and welcome to our newest TEZI MAG addition ~ TEZI TQ! Here we shall gather the thrills and spills from all manner of professionals across all manner of industries in just Twenty Questions…
All rise for our maiden interview… !
She’s funky, she’s spunky and rapidly becoming Britain’s ‘doyenne’ of Burlesque Photography! Tigz Rice shares with us the delights and downfalls of her flavour filled career in professional photography…
Hi Tigz, thankyou so much for taking the time to chat with us here at Tezi Mag!
Thanks! It’s lovely to be included as the first interviewee of Tezi Magazine!
Can you tell us first of all what twists of fate led you to sojourn down the photographic path?
I’ve always had a passion for digital art as I grew up in a house full of technology, so by the time I was in university I had been experimenting with scanned materials and Photoshop for a number of years. Scanners to digital cameras was really a natural progression for me as it was the same principle, but the camera allowed me to experiment with a much wider (and dimensional) choice of subject matter!
Can you recall your earliest impression of and thoughts about photography?
The first time I ever really thought about photography was during college. Whilst working on my fine art project on evil fairies (yes, even back then I was a little dark!) I needed to photograph some models to use for my final piece. I didn’t have an SLR camera back then, so a friend of mine offered to take the photos for us while we all got gothed up in our new rocks and mesh tops and had a brilliant time posing for the camera. I remember thinking then than photography would be a great subject to learn.
Do you remember the first photograph you ever took, both as a dabbler and then as a professional?
I can’t remember how old I was, but one Christmas at my aunt’s house my little brother and I both got our first cameras and we both took a photo of each other at the same time with ridiculously bright flashes on! That’s the first photo I ever remember taking. I suppose the photograph I consider to be my first ‘professional’ one was the Dormouse shoot for my illustrated picture book Wonderland? – my final major project at Westminster University. I had already dabbled a few times in photo-manipulation, but this time I hired out a proper studio and lighting equipment, there was a model, stylist and make up artist… everything! I’ve changed a lot as an artist since then (and my photography has definitely improved!) but I still have a soft spot for that Dormouse!
Do you recall the very moment in time you decided to turn professional and why?
I think I’ve always had a very professional attitude towards creativity, but the major turning point for me was when I chose to study illustrations at university. I knew that I was choosing a future career that would require several years of experience before breaking the industry, so I spent as much of my free time as possible over those three years doing work experience in various parts of the industry – from flash games to fashion – so that the day I graduated I’d go straight into running my own business. I was also (in a sense) lucky that I got made redundant from my retail job that same week, which re-enforced the idea of being self-employed!
Digital media and adaptation plays a vital part in the results of your very individual style of work; what is it that decided you to opt for this path over traditional, straight-laced photography?
Whilst on my foundation course I did study traditional photography but found it very unrewarding. As most of the class had already studied the subject at A level, there was very little emphasis on teaching the fundamental basics of aperture and shutter speed – so most of the time my images were disappointing and I had no idea why. It wasn’t until 2 years later that I picked up a camera again, which happened to be a digital SLR. I liked that I could see instant results, and through trial and error mixed with a significant amount of googling and book reading, I taught myself how to use the camera. The up side of digital now is being able to edit the images the same day on the computer, which speeds up my work flow. This (along with cost) has been the main reason why most photographers have switched over. Although I do have a couple of Lomography camera’s I play with in my free time…
As an adjunct to your photographic, artistic and publication successes you also teach the tools of your trade across the U.K.; Do you find this to be an additional source of inspiration and a compliment to your photographic doings?
It has definitely been an additional source of inspiration, yes! Working with other creatives can help you see things from a wide range of different perspectives that you’d never think of yourself – last year I was at a museum with some students. There was one display case that you looked down into, but whilst I was photographing down into this case a student had got down low and was photographing into the side of this glass cabinet. The fabrics we were looking at suddenly created these unbelievable looking landscapes! From then on my mantra has always been to find another angle.
Given the abundant experience you have in the industry, what is the main piece of sage advise you would offer to those looking to pursue a career in photography?
Don’t give up! It can be daunting out there when there are people flashing around their expensive cameras and giant studio spaces full of, but we all started in exactly the same place.
The jury is out on whether or not entering photographic competitions is indeed worthy exposure for both budding and professional photographers. What are your thoughts on this and would you mind sharing with us your experiences in this area?
I don’t think I’ve ever actually entered a photographic competition? I have entered some illustration ones in the past and for those who win they definitely have benefits, but it concerns me how high entry fees are as they are ruling out most of the student and graduate community. You could get the same amount of exposure for free if you’re willing to put the man-hours into emailing and contacting blogs, magazines and newspapers (etc) – where you’re also more likely to establish long-lasting client relationships. Chances are if they like your work they’d find you either way…
Being a self-employed artist and running your own business requires a lot of discipline, consistency and commitment, all at your own instigation; What do you do to kick-start yourself when your engine just won’t rev the way you want it to when you need it most?
As well as your London-based studio, you have your own website, blog, online Etsy shop, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook accounts; has an online presence increased your sales and exposure and if so, which sites have benefited you most, do you think?
About 90% of my clients have found me via social networking or word of mouth, so sites like Twitter and Facebook – where content is based on social interaction – are invaluable for creatives to get their name out there and seen with very little outgoings. Having my own website also helps to validate my business as it gives clients a point of reference for contact, although my most popular online presence is my blog where I share the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff
. I’d definitely recommend investing some time into blogging, however its good to remember that having an online presence these days means people can literally Google you, so be careful what you upload to the Internet – its not very easy to erase!
What’s the strangest shoot you’ve ever been asked to do?
I always respect client confidentiality!
Do you ever get tricky customers?
Not really, no. Before the client arrives for their photo shoot we’ve already had at least one in-depth phone conversation and the client has emailed over inspiration images for their shoot, so we both know what we’re aiming for at the end of the project. The client is also involved in the choosing of the final edits, so there are never any surprises.
How important is feedback for you?
It is always important to get constructive criticism back on work, that’s how you grow as an artist.
Are you one of these photographers who will weather out any conditions for as long as it takes in order to get that single fantastic shot you have in mind, or more of a spontaneous free-flow style of photographer?
I’m a bit of both? Sometimes I know exactly what I’m looking for, especially when I’m working on my illustrated picture books. Those have been fully storyboarded over the last few weeks and every shoot is planned to the millimetre! However sometimes I can have a model in the studio and we spend a good number of hours just experimenting with poses and angles until something amazing pops up on the back of the camera!
How much preparation goes into a pre-booked or pre-structured shoot?
Lots! Last summer I did some photography for Britain’s Next Top Model finalist Olivia Stevens, which involved organizing a whole team of people. Once I’d got a confirmed date and ideas from Olivia’s manager I sat down with the hairdresser, MUA and stylist to discuss the brief and plan the outfit, hair and make up and contact the location to confirm. On the actual shoot day we were there an hour before the model to set up the location as we were shooting in a cabaret club. Then of course getting the model ready for the shoot. There is a lot of thought and preparation that goes into a shoot, but the better you planned the more success you’ll have on the day.
What is the most difficult aspect of your trade, do you think?
I think the most difficult aspect of photography is the cost, which often leads clients to question why shoots cost as much as they do. A camera body alone can cost over a thousand pounds, of which many professionals have two (one as a back up in case of disaster!). Add to that studio rent, equipment and lighting, editing software and perhaps a couple of lenses and already you’re well past five thousand pounds. While your shoot may only have lasted a couple of hours, the photographer will then go on to spend more time editing the shoot to make the model look even more beautiful, setting up a web gallery and formatting images to a range of web and print ready sizes. It’s not that photographers are overcharging, it’s just an expensive business!
Your most rewarding/memorable photographic experience?
I think most memorable will always be my first proper photo shoot that I mentioned earlier, although most rewarding would be yesterdays – you’re only ever as good as your last piece of work so its worth putting in that little bit extra each time…
Can you give us a TEZI exclusive? Is there a side to Tigz Rice we none of us know about…? C’mon spill!
I’m a really open person so I don’t think there is anything to spill!
Lastly, if you could attain one thing (work/pleasure or otherwise) in your life, above all other things, what would it be?
I love to travel, so my goal is to see as much of the world as possible. I think that runs through personal and work, as I’d also like to say that I’ve photographed something on every continent!
Now to close ~ a bit of fun… This is ‘TEZI Twenty Questions’ as you know … so … question twenty is yours…! Ask Away… Anything you like…! Of anyone you like…!
Dear Vogue, please can I come work for you…..?
Haha! Thanks Tigz!
Tigz will be photographing London Burlesque Week 2011 this April.
If you like Tigz’s work and fancy being in front of the camera yourself, send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Her work speaks for itself!
[All content © Tezi Magazine & Tigz Rice 2011. FIRST RIGHTS, Tezi Magazine. No part of this interview may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Tezi Magazine and Tigz Rice Design. To feature this interview on your blog please email Tezi Magazine]