Aine Ni Mhaoileoin is a Galway-based writer. A recent graduate of the MA in Writing from NUI Galway, she has twice won the six-word story competition in The Irish Independent and her flash fiction has appeared in Sin and Ad Hoc Fiction. As well as being a co-founder of Dodging The Rain, she is working on a number of longer projects, with a view to publication. An avid reader, she has yet to conquer technology, and deals with social media in intermittent bursts of activity on Twitter and Facebook. When not writing, or reading, she enjoys playing with Snapchat filters that call her age into question.
Born and raised in Co. Monaghan, fashion, film, and portrait photographer, Táine King is one of Ireland’s most exciting talents at this moment. Driven and focused on producing creative visions, her work has blossomed over the past ten years.
Along with creating powerful visuals, Táine has also recently branched out into the film industry, working with leading actors, producers, and directors. In 2015, her fashion film Embryo was aired at Milan Fashion Film Festival, and she has produced a short film Fingerprints with award-winning director Jimmy Smallhorne that has been selected by the Oscar-qualifying festival ‘In Galway’.
Táine has been nominated for photographer of the year at the Irish Innovation Awards this year, and selected for i-D Magazine’s top 25 “Team work makes dream work” editorial, which was chosen out of 4,500 entries from around the world.
She worked at London Fashion week and has photographed front-of-house for designers like Gareth Pugh and Pam Hogg. Her work is appreciated for its creativity and innovation, and, following a successful 2016, we can expect to see much more of Táine in the coming year.
What inspired you to take this career path? Growing up I was always looking at fashion magazines and pictures. I loved the beautiful imagery, but never dreamed I could make a career out of it. At college, my love of fashion and photography began to shine through and I went on to do an MA in Professional Design Practice at DIT, and my work since has naturally progressed in this direction.
Is there a photographer that inspires your work? Yes, Tim Walker is a favourite of mine. His photography is very set-heavy; the design of the set and placement of models really builds a story within the image and gives so much more than just a picture, it’s more like an adventure. Another inspiration is Nick Knight who came on the scene in the eighties and revolutionised the genre. His images broke through the fashion photography boundaries, making people see the beauty in the obscure. He also transformed the fashion film, with ShowStudio creating fashion-in-motion with his team of film-makers.
How would you describe your style? It varies from client to client. Some projects call for a stripped-back, raw look; I would use less lights, maybe work with natural light. I love when I’m asked to do something which involves set-building, where you can build a story around the image. I had the opportunity to do just that in a campaign for Dirty Fabulous. We shot in the gorgeous Hilton Park in Monaghan, building stories around each look. Then in post-production, I created an invasion of giant birds in a stately home. In the end, we had some incredibly beautiful shots that I’m extremely proud of; a hat-tip to Tim Walker as my inspiration for these.
One of Táine’s shots for dress designers Dirty Fabulous.
One of my favourite elements of the job is the variety of creative opportunities. Dirty Fabulous was a classically beautiful storytelling shoot but my recent for Polina Jakobson has a completely different tone. It’s this element of the job I love; one day it’s giant birds in a stately home, the next I’m creating an underground creature frozen in time. Getting to storyboard shoots like these is a creatives dream come true.
An image from the Polina Jakobson shoot.
What sort of equipment do you consider essential? My favourite is the CANON 5D Mark III, but to be honest I think it’s a mistake to get hung up on the type of equipment you have. There’s a lot more to it than fancy cameras, and if you don’t know how to compose a shot or use the light, then it won’t make any difference what tools you have. I would advise anyone learning photography to go back to basics and master set-ups, framing, light and shadow with an ordinary digital camera, rather than spending thousands on the ‘right camera’.
What’s been the high point of your career? Meeting and photographing Nicole Scherzinger was an incredibly exciting moment for me, for obvious reasons. And I have to say making the Galway Film Fleadh with the film Fingerprints was such an achievement; it really felt like all the hard work was finally paying off.
And a low point? I still get requests for work where the payment comes in ‘exposure’. It feels so disheartening to have to explain that your work is valuable. After so many years studying and building a portfolio, not to mention the time and cost spent scouting locations, finding the right model, creating mood-boards, hiring equipment, the whole project can take a month of work, going back and forth, and then you are expected to do it for free. It can be demoralising. Unfortunately, it’s all too common in the industry here.
What would be your dream assignment? A cover shoot for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, or i.D magazine. That’s the ultimate goal. Or producing an Oscar-winning film would be a dream come true. I like to dream big. If your dreams aren’t scary, then they’re not big enough.
The industry is notoriously hard to break into, what advice to you have for aspiring photographers? First, be prepared to work for free for a minimum of two years as you build your portfolio. You can’t go in to it thinking you’re going to land a job straight out of college. Second, it’s not all glitz and glamour, a lot of hard work goes into every shot. And last, don’t feel you must conform; be true to yourself. There’s so much online content these days, someone will want your work. It’s your creation so own it!
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself? Just to start earlier and reach for what I really wanted instead of settling. The possibility of becoming a fashion photographer/film producer seemed a ridiculous notion for a girl from a small town in Co. Monaghan. If I’d had a bit more self-belief and courage, I would have reached for the stars a lot sooner.
The gallery is on fire, what piece do you save? Oh, that’s tough. I think it would have to be the image I created for Nick Knight based on the S/S Celine Collection – kind of urban woman being adventurous, which appealed to me. The shoot took about four weeks to prepare, a week to put the set together and about six hours to shoot the one image. I was working with a small team and we had to construct the set around the model. In the end, I loved the shot and it’s quite personal to me.
The image Taine would save from a fire.
Finally, any current projects we can look forward to in the new year? Yes, I’m in the middle of producing an Irish feature film. Following on from the success of Fingerprints, it’s very exciting to be involved in film again. It’s due for release in 2017.
So, watch this space. Taine’s work can be found online at:
3 thoughts on “Interview with fashion photographer and film producer, Táine King”
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