Fashion Magazine

One-on-one with Rising Fashion Photographer Sam Sparks

By Lesassorties @LesAssorties

A Northumbria University Fashion Communication student and up-and-coming photographer Sam Sparks is steadily building his photography career having worked in the field of sports, wedding, portrait and product photography. But it’s fashion the industry he is more familiar with; he has worked with Tyne Tees Models in Newcastle and Established Models in London, as well as he has assisted editorial shoots for brands such as MrPorter and TkMaxx, and worked among others on a fashion film as part of a live brief in collaboration with DrMartens. Sam is currently employed at JulesB, a Newcastle-based luxury retailer, while also working in a variety of assignments. We sat down with Sam to discuss accepting commissions at this point of his career, carving out a career in the industry and his plans upon graduation.


You work as a photographer, but you are pursuing a degree in Fashion Communication. Tell us about this decision of yours.

When I was applying for university, initially I was going to apply for Graphic Design or Photography, then as I completed a year course in art and design, I gained an interest in Fashion. After researching into different courses, I found that Fashion Communication involved all three of these making it an all rounded course. As I’ve worked my way through the years, my passion for photography has increased.


You are currently working for retailer Jules B. What does your work entail exactly?

Most of my work is based in-house in the photography studio. I photograph a range of clothing and accessories for the website along with model shoots. I also retouch the images ready to go online, so I get to work with products from start to finish.

You are in the beginning of your career. Are you accepting every job offer or are you picky with your clients?

I wouldn’t turn down a job offer because it’s a great way to meet new clients and learn something new – you never know who you’re going to meet. I’ve worked with a range of clients from different areas, and I’m always willing to give a project a go. It’s what makes the industry exciting; you get to be creative.


How many internships have you had? Do you think that you have enough experience so you can start officially calling yourself a fashion photographer?

I’ve had a range of internships within the industry, from graphic design within a local publisher to events management to assisting photographers. I’ve gained knowledge from every opportunity that I have completed, and I’m thankful for it. I started off interning for Jules B a year and a half ago, and I’m now employed by them so it really has paid off for me. I would call myself a fashion photographer although that definitely sounds a little daunting.


What inspires your work? How are you developing your aesthetic?

Anything and everything! If I need a specific source of inspiration, I’ll head over to Instagram or Pinterest. I always look in independent bookshops, too, for smaller magazines, as I often find the photography and layout really creative; it doesn’t seem as structured as many high-street publications which can be nice to see. My aesthetic is developing unintentionally; I’m working in a way that I enjoy and going from there. When I’m looking back over my work, if I feel as though a technique has worked well, then I’ll keep experimenting and go from there.


Do you get to be creative with product photography, as well?

Photography concepts are normally decided by the graphic design team, and then photographed to fit their requirements. So, although the actual concept isn’t too creative on my behalf, the technical side can be depending on what lighting, products or backdrop that may be requested.

Which project has helped you grow the most?

Over the summer, I assisted Jonathan Daniel Pryce on a number of menswear shoots in London. The series of projects I worked with him on were definitely the most motivational and inspirational, I grew a lot as a person in terms of how to present myself to clients and to see how exciting the photography and fashion industry can be.


How do you get the word out for your work?

I normally contact clients and send over my website or portfolio. I think it’s important to not be afraid to put yourself out there and show off what you’ve created. You could get something great in return.

In a word, how would you describe the industry from your point of view? Do you think college prepares you for a career in fashion?

Exciting! College/university prepares you in terms of the basic knowledge that you need but I don’t feel like anything is as accurate as being in the industry itself. The sooner you make connections and learn in the industry the better.


What are you currently working on and what are your future plans?

I’m currently finishing off my final projects for University, as I’ll be graduating in the summer. Once my work is handed in I’ll continue to work at Jules B, and probably work on a few photography concepts that I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the time for.

Images © Sam Sparks

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