Questions and answers with Brooke James.

{May 2020}

Title: Running with the Wolves
Home: Los Angeles

Where was the final image from this photoshoot featured?
Here! Outtake Editions.

Give us a bit of background on the photoshoot concept.

Mimi and I became friends after working together on numerous occasions over the years, but we’ve never had time to collaborate on a project where we’ve had creative control.

A few months ago, we both happened to be in Sydney and realised we had a day off before we both flew out again and decided to go for it. We had 4 days to pull everything together. I showed Mimi a concept that I’ve wanted to shoot for years but didn’t know where I’d find the outfit as it was something that was reserved more for a costume designer, rather than a stylist. Mimi took one look at the image and said, “I actually have the perfect Paco Rabanne dress that I got in Paris, which enables you to build the outfit into whatever design you want!” So, Mimi and her Mum created the outfit from scratch using pliers. It took 2 days.

I told Mimi that I’d love to have her on an isolated beach at night because I knew once the light hit the water and reflected onto the gold dress, it was going to be truly amazing. Mimi happened to know of a secluded beach with a massive boulder, and that was that! Once I picked up the camera, I instantly realised how other-worldly and special all of the elements were and knew I had to take some stills to accompany the film before the lights ran out of battery, and the rest is history.

I always love working with Mimi. She’s such a trouper and is down to do anything if she believes in the concept. So, for this, we just leaned in, rolled with the punches, and followed our instincts.

Why did you/your client choose the final image compared to the outtakes?

I originally sent Mimi a dropbox folder with all of the final images and included one edit I had experimented on. I’d manipulated it in a way that reminded me of a poster or album cover art and she was really drawn to the fact it felt like a collage. I’d never created anything like that before so I went back and edited the rest in a similar vein and we ran with those. I don’t have a bias, I love both edits equally for different reasons.

Any cheeky moments during this photoshoot that you'd be willing to share?

I don’t know about cheeky, but my poor assistant didn’t know where to look because there was no way of securing the dress whilst shooting due to the way Mimi was moving. Watching Jonty look off into the distance, pretending something caught his eye all night did make me laugh, haha! Always the gentleman.

Have you ever experienced a fanboy/girl moment?

I’ve never had a fangirl experience because at our core, we’re all human beings but I did have the honour of shooting Oscar winner, Laura Dern on film to accompany the cover of Elle a few months ago. Whilst I wasn’t fan-girling in the moment, I definitely look back on the experience with gratitude and a sense of awe when I look at Laura’s body of work and the cultural impact she’s had.

Shed some light on how you got involved in photography.

I got involved in photography not long after starting university when I was 17. I was studying Communications at the time and wanted to teach myself to DOP so I bought my first DSLR and decided to teach myself to shoot both stills and motion simultaneously.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Mainly old movies, nostalgia and an amalgamation of abstract images/scenes I see in my head that I create back stories for. From there I turn them into editorials or short films.

What’s it like being on set with you?

I’m not sure, you’d have to ask someone else! But I would hope that people would say fun, inspiring, and feeling like they were in a safe space.

Do you prefer photographing with a big or small team on set?

Really depends. For intricate jobs with a lot of moving parts, I love big teams. I’ve come to realise over the years that you can’t always do everything yourself. On the flip side of that, I also love small teams for personal projects because that allows for intimacy and the chance to experiment with zero expectations.

Describe your ideal photoshoot.

A modern day Kate Moss/Mario Sorrenti. Myself, a model, a remote location and a suitcase full of amazing clothes, or the polar opposite. Build an entire set with elaborate propping/lighting design and extensive planning to tell an amazing story.

What makes a photograph special, in your opinion?

From a subjective point of view, it’s the connection I have with the subject. My favourite images are my favourite because I remember the feeling I had when I took them and the story behind them. From an objective point of view, a photograph is special when you can capture/create a fleeting moment that lasts a lifetime.

Express what photography means to you.

Film is an inhale, photography is an exhale. I can’t have one without the other. Film is a lot more complex, there’s so many different elements and complexities that come along with motion. Not to say one is harder than the other, as they both have their own unique set of challenges. But for me, photography is more relaxing, whereas film really makes me think on a different level.

Do you photograph full-time? If not, what pays the bills?

I photograph and direct full time. Advertising is what pays the bills.

Instagram and photography...need we say more? Give us your two cents.

There’s some iconic images that have slipped through the cracks due to our short attention spans and small screens. On the contrary, it’s also opened up the flood gates to so much creativity and access to inspiration.

Do you have any suggestions to budding photographers out there?

“Be fearless, provocative and fight for your dreams” - Donatella Versace said it best.

We obviously believe this outtakes concept is brilliant, but why do you think it's important for outtake photographs to be promoted in the industry?

Because sometimes the outtakes are more thought-provoking or beautiful than the originals.

Anything you're working towards with your next move in photography?

Absolutely. But, I’m sworn to secrecy. You’ll know when you see it!

Share a quote you live by.

“Fuck it, might as well” (applicable to almost every scenario) or “It’s me against me, there’s no way I’m losing”.


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