‘I think the main challenges in the fashion world are the same as all across photography,’ says Mike Blackett, Smashbox Cosmetics Click You’re It Photographer for the UK and Ireland. ‘It’s gotten very competitive, and is now saturated with good photographers. I guess from the outside fashion photography looks quite glamorous, so it draws a lot of people in, wanting to be a part of that.’
Uh, hello, ‘looks’? Totally is! Okay, we know what he means, but there have had to have been some super glam moments. Mike is bringing his steeze to the beauty hall in Arnotts on 8 and 9 March, for Dublin’s Click You’re It event. It’s not to be missed, and even if you say you hate to get your picture taken, you may want to rethink that stance. ‘What’s not to love about a free makeover, free photo shoot, USB stick to take away with all the pictures, and all for just a €10 deposit?’ he justly queries. ‘It’s worth trying something new for all the fun and enjoyment you will get from the event.’
Mike spoke to Bright & Beautyfull! about life as a high fashion photog, and the what to expect on the day.
Had you always wanted to be a photographer? What’s the first picture you remember taking that made you think, Hmmm I might like to do this as a career?
I remember taking a shot of a punk kid with a tattoo saying ‘way of life’ on his neck, for a spoof ad campaign I set myself for a local brand called Criminal Clothing. That was the first shot that made me think I’d love to do this for a living.
I originally studied art, then discovered photography as a module and fell in love with it. I then applied to the University in England at Bournemouth, the best for photography at the time, and got a place.
I know it was a bit late in the day to be thinking of a career path, but until then I’d just been enjoying being young. I’m glad I chose to wait for the thing that really made me happy.
How did you get into fashion photography?
My dad worked for Kodak, and my Grandad was a tailor, I think that subliminally those two ideas got together somewhere in my childhood and implanted an idea which didn’t materialise until later in life!
On a serious note, I do think that the direction I have taken with photography has probably had more to do with the opportunities that have come my way in fashion — for example working with some great photographers when I was still very early into my career.
Fashion gives you a good platform to explore ideas as a photographer, whether it’s telling a story, dealing with issues around stereotypes, or purely on an aesthetic level — there’s lots to play with. I’m also really enjoying exploring working in the beauty industry as well, so working with Smashbox Cosmetics on their Click You’re It events is a real pleasure.
How did you get involved with the brand?
I got involved following a recommendation from a Beauty Director that I had worked with. She put my name forward to the powers that be, and we went from there. It is a wonderful opportunity for me to work with a cosmetic brand and be consumer-facing. It is a really rewarding part of the job to meet new people at each event, and create lovely pictures for them, with the help of the Smashbox makeup crews.
Do you enjoy being ‘on the spot’, in beauty halls?
It was definitely a change of scene for me and I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out, as all my work is usually in a studio, photographing professionals, so the customer-facing side of it was new to me. I am really enjoying the challenge of the different setting and subject and I find it really rewarding when a customer goes away happy. We get a lot of people coming back and saying they loved the experience, which is so nice to hear.
It also helps that the Smashbox crew on counter are so friendly and always very welcoming. They make everyone feel so comfortable having their makeup done, so when they get to me they are having a great time and they feel very relaxed on the whole.
What are some tips and tricks you’d tell someone who is thinking of coming to get her pictures done?
I think my top tip would be to wear something simple. We’re mainly shooting quite tight in as it’s all about the makeup and the person, so don’t worry too much about what you wear, as it’ll mostly be cropped out. The majority of photos are head and shoulders.
We get quite a lot of people that are apprehensive at first, but there’s really nothing to worry about because you’re surrounded by professionals — from Smashbox to the photography team. My whole team go out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable; it’s not as scary as it might seem initially.
I look forward to meeting all your brightandbeautyfull readers on counter for the Click You’re It event in Arnotts Henry Street!
Ring Arnotts on 01 805 0400 and ask for the Smashbox counter to book a place; rumour has it that there’s a waiting list, but you can still avail of the makeup session at any time, for the same booking price.
Two days only! Friday 8th and Saturday 9th March. The tenner is redeemable against Smashbox purchases on the day.