Pauline Darley is a self-taught fashion photographer based in Paris. At a young age, she has established herself as an inventive editorial photographer and talented portraitist, able to create both captivating and insightful conceptual work.
She has worked commercially for a list of clients which include Armani, Sony Music, Canal+, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Princesse Tam-tan and Universal Music. Her work has been published in Elle, Newsweek, Ever Magazine, and numerous other magazines and blogs.
Pauline chats with us about working on personal and client projects, how long it takes her to bring a concept to life, and tells us her own personal definition of fashion.
First I want to know, how did you become interested in photography?
I began photography when I was 17. Photography was an artistic medium for me, I needed to have an outlet to express myself at that age.
Do you have any formal training in photography or do you consider yourself self-taught for the most part?
I’m self-taught for the most part because I never studied photography in school, but my boyfriend (who is also a photographer) has taught me a lot of things; especially when I began working with artificial light in the studio.
What inspires you?
My inspirations are movies, paintings, tales, history, landscape. In fact, Everything can be inspiring for me!
Your photography is stunning, and your mind seems full of endless ideas and concepts. I was wondering, if you could tell us some things that you’ve overcome to get to where you are today?
Well first, thanks a lot! I know I am a very lucky girl, because in my short career, I didn’t need to make hard choices in photography.
So yes, all my jobs aren’t very fulfilling, some are very hard, also I had some very bad clients (their behaviour, or just clients whom didn’t pay…) But in other parts, I made a lot of very cool personal projects, I met a lot of fantastic people, and this is what matters.
What is your absolute favourite thing to shoot?
A fashion story with a strange concept!
Being the great fashion photographer that you are, I have to ask, what is your personal definition of fashion?
For me, fashion is the way to create a story with beautiful clothes / hairstyle / makeup.
What’s on your gear list? (cameras, lenses, editing software, etc.)
Camera: Sony Alpha 99
Lenses: 24-70 mm / 50 mm / 85 mm (sony zeiss)
For Software : Capture One / Lightroom / Photoshop cc
When shooting an editorial for example, tell us about your creative process. In the planning stages do you ever create sketches and/or mood boards to help your vision come to life?
I don’t know how to draw so I try to explain first with words, and after show pictures for inspiration! I have a first ‘initial’ idea and then with my staff, we work together to create the final concept.
On average, how long would you estimate it would take you to conceptualize a shoot, book models/mua, location scout, shoot, edit, etc?
Several months, two to six months!
Within your photography do you prefer to work with natural light, artificial light or both? (Do you have any favourite Light equipment that you use, also?)
Both! I like so much natural light, but often on the inside, it’s difficult to work with. And I like so much artificial light in studio. It depends of my inspiration, my current mood.
At 24 years old you have accomplished so much as a photographer! I was curious are people ever surprised your age, and do you ever receive negative feedback because of this?
One time, a French actress said to my team (when I left to prepare the light set) “but, the photographer is 12 years old?” But it’s the one time where I had a negative feedback. People are surprised when they hear about my age. But they are happy to see that I do my job properly.
You work on both client shoots and personal shoots. Do you have a preference of which you like to shoot more? What are the best things about client shoots and the best things about personal shoots?
It’s two different photo shoots. Client shoots are different. I have to integrate myself in the “universe” of a brand. Personal shoots are to create what I never been asked to do, and what I would like to do. But, during client photo shoots I am able to do photographs with a lot more equipment (lighting for the most part) than I can afford for me! (Stage set & stuff.)
What is your proudest moment as a photographer?
Just tell me that I can live as a professional photographer. Photographer is a very hard job because there are a lot of photographers in the world, especially in Paris.
Who are some of your favorite artists and/or photographers?
Gustave Moreau, Gustave Doré, Erwin Olaf, Tim Walker.
As an artist, how important do you feel it is to collaborate with other artists?
It’s very important because we can create together and make a real brainstorming. Each person brings something to the other, a little thing that the other doesn’t have, to create something more ambitious.
What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not behind the camera?
Visiting Castles! In fact I created a website with a friend (in French, sorry) that speaks of my visits and all about the castles, with my pictures, and some news about it: www.passionchateau.fr
What is your favourite photo that you’ve ever taken? Why?
Oh! It’s hard, because I take pictures and after 2 or 3 months I say, “I don’t like it anymore.” It’s never good enough.
What are you currently working on?
For the moment, it’s August and it’s a very calm period! But In June and July I worked on four very cool photo shoots. All different shoots, about the concept, lights, rendering. But in all of the projects, there is a little part of me in them.
Do you have any advice to offer us fellow photographers and artists about photography or even about life in general?
Always, work work work. Work and be nice to others 🙂