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Interview: Ben Broomfield, MCM's Local British Fashion Photographer

02-10-2012

Ben Broomfield started working as a News Photographer, which taught him how to capture images while remaining virtually unseen, how to work on a very tight deadline and most of all how to convey emotion, situation and more in just one frame. He now works as a commercial photographer, often hired to cover prestigious events. We met him with his fashion photographer hat on...

 
What type of photography do you specialise in?

Having starting off my career being a photojournalist, I mainly shoot reportage, documenting events. I like being dropped into an arena and let off the leash to do my thing. I also do a few bit of portraiture, but never in a studio. I always work on location. 
 

What was it like to photograph Olympic Gold Medallist, Pete Reed aboard the MCM Routemaster?

Fantastic. Great guy and really good being able to chat about photography and cameras. I was happy to give him a few tips! Being able to photograph him over three days meant we built a rapport, which doesn't happen that often, and certainly aided the subject/photographer relationship. (NDLR - read the posts about Pete Reed and see all Ben's photos here and here)

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Pete Reed

Any special memories in photo-documenting the MCM Brand Experience route master?

Managing to get Pete & Frauke's attention through a horde of Olympians and getting a portrait I'm really proud of. They are clearly quite loved up, so it came as no surprise that he proposed to her the next day. 

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Olympians on the bus
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Pete & Frauke
 
What was it like to photograph Estelle & La La?

A whole different ball game! Bit of a whirlwind. Those two seemed like they were having fun in the shop. I work stills on film-sets so I'm used to dodging around the crew to get the right angle. Couldn't get over how effortly glamourous Estelle was, whilst still coming across as a down-to-earth Londoner. (NDLR - read the post about Estelle And Lala and see all Ben's photos here)

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Estelle & LaLa 

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“Kodak Moments” - are they captured or created?

Both. Like luck and skill, there's that element of being in the right place at the right time. But it's also about knowing if there will be a potential "moment" that could happen, and lining yourself up for it and waiting for it to come to you.
 
How do you capture them?

Patience and determination. Being observant, keeping my eyes peeled for opportunities. 
Knowing what lenses to use in which situation helps. I don't tend to pose people for my photos too much, I let people do what feels natural. Last thing you want is your subject feeling uncomfortable. 
I was always in to graphics when I was younger, so I really like strong and dynamic angles and compositions. 
Every photographer has their different inspirations, meaning we'll all approach a subject in a different way. 

How do you know when the exact right moment is- ones which merit the “thousand-
word” adage?

It comes to you. Without even looking at the back of the camera you know you've got that amazing photo. It's an incredible feeling when it happens. Pete Reed told me its feels the same as winning a gold medal, which was a bit of a shock to hear. 

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Are photo opportunities all individually unique? How does a photographer’s own skill factor into deciphering photo opportunities?

I had to leave the newspaper I was picture editor for due to the patch being really small. I loved the job, but the stories (though always different) were starting to be familiar to me and my work was too, I was getting comfortable. So I left and went freelance, and the step was exactly what I needed. I immediately started getting more varied work for more varied clients wanting more varied photography. That was an incredible experience because is put me into so many new situations. It was difficult at first, but soon my confidence and ability went through the roof. I began turning out good photos in all sorts of different situations, and applying the lessons of one job to the practical situations of others.

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Do you ever find yourself taking the ordinary, and turning it into the extraordinary? If so, is this difficult?

Yes, it's what I'm paid for!  I photographed a pretty run-of-the-mill AGM the other week, but knew I could make it look mind-blowing. So I took my time over the day, getting into positions that would yield interesting results, and spotting any little details that capture the day. The results really worked and the clients were delighted.

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Ideally, who would you like to photograph? Why?

Rebecca Hall. She has such a striking elegance. Also Jackie Chan, who has a boundless energy, like a wind-up toy, and I'd like to be able to capture that. 


Rebecca Hall, Jackie Chan - Photos courtesy of The Telegraph
 
Is there an event would you have liked to have photo-documented? Why?

The Beatles playing live on the roofs of Savile Row. I never get tired of seeing the footage from that. I can only imagine what it was like: the workmen opposite viewing casually, hordes of screaming fans below, the tailors and seamstresses emerging blinking from the workshops and the players themselves, together for one last hurrah. 


 Photo from The Uncut Collection

Do photographers need to get into a ‘zone’ like actors need to ‘get into character’?

Yes, I think that's something common in all creative fields. Though we all have our ways of getting there. It allows you not to be distracted and be focused on the job in hand. 

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Do photographers need to have a synergy with their subject matter? If so, how is this achieved?

No, all photographers do jobs that wouldn't be our first choice say. The trick is finding something that you find interesting or attractive to bring out in the photos. 
 
What's your ultimate goal in photography?

To capture a image that defines and era or important event, that will live on in history longer than I do. 

Where do you see yourself in the future? 

Keep building my business, make my name well known in my field. I'd like to set up an agency providing the best reportage photographers for events. 

All photos by Ben Broomfield, unless otherwise stated.

Mademoiselle Robot xoxo
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