About

Karen Woo Photographer KARENWOO_DIANAK_015-Edit-2Karen is a professional Melbourne based street style and fashion photographer with a photography studio in Canterbury. Karen is also the Co-Founder of Finessence Photography specialising in weddings, portraits and commercial; and the official photographer for What Would Karl Do fashion blogsite.

Karen solely represented UK’s largest online retail store, Boohoo.com to cover street style photography during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) 2014, and Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) 2014. Her work has been featured in international publications such as Marie Claire Netherlands, Boohoo.com, Famous, Buzzfeed Manhattan NY and Cosmopolitan Australia. Her highest achievements includes the recipient of the Honours Associate Photographer award for the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) 2013, two AIPP Silver awards 2013; and three AIPP Silver awards 2012.

Clients
Bonds, Boohoo.com, Bryan Boy, Business Chicks, Cecylia.com, Collins234, Cosmopolitan Australia, Couturing, H&M Australia, IYA Swimwear, EC-Group, Ezara Jennings Millinery, Famous Magazine, Fashion on Top, James Varnish, Madam Virtue & Co., Marie Claire Netherlands, Paris & William’s, Roar Accessories, Rolld Australia, Strugnellcole Hairdressing, Styled Me Yesterday, The K Hair & Beauty Salon, Werribee Plaza, What Would Karl Do

Australia Institute of Professional Photography 2014

Photo credit (Left): Vincent Calderon from Your Ensemble.

2 Comments

  1. Dear Karen,

    My name is Renee Macartney and I’m currently a student at Holmesglen
    Institute studying Certificate IV in Photo Imaging.
    I am a huge fan of your fashion and street style work, it has inspired me so
    much with my own work and style. I think your photography is amazing. For
    one of my assessments I am required to create a blog and include interviews
    with photographers that work in the industry.
    I would love so much if I could include you in this. I know your job is very
    time consuming so I understand if you can’t find the time but it would be
    so greatly appreciated if you could answer some questions that I have added
    to this email.
    I hope to hear from you soon, thank-you for your time.

    – Renee Macartney

    Questions:
    1. How did you get started in the industry?
    2. What moves or inspires you most in life as well as work?
    3. What interests you most about working in photography?
    4. Where is your work based and where has it taken you recently?
    5. What elements of the work bring you the most stress?
    6. What approaches/techniques do you use and what would you consider your
    ‘style’?
    7. Which is more important to you, the subject or the way it is executed?
    8. What does a typical work day look like for you? And how many hours do you
    put in?
    9. With iPhones and tablets now, everyone is a photographer. What do you
    think the future of photography is?
    10. If there is one piece of advice that would be useful for photographers
    starting out, what would that be?

    Again, thank-you for your time. :)

    • Hi Renee, thank you for the questions and I have responded to your questions below. x Karen

      1. How did you get started in the industry?
      I initially started out as a Wedding Photographer with my husband as a part-time hobby. Our friends who were getting married at the time asked us to cover their wedding reception, and then we decided to put our work online and see if anyone would book us to be their wedding photographer. Since 2008, our brand Finessence Photography was born and we now own a Wedding & Portrait Photography studio in Canterbury. I first started in fashion photography when I was fortunate to stumble across this vintage fashion boutique called Madam Virtue & Co., and I brought a vintage Chanel bag. After much conversation they invited me to shoot Bryan Boy (he was recently on cycle 20 of America’s Next Top Model) the next day for Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. Bryan Boy is the pioneer of fashion blogging and he was the first blogger to have a Marc Jacobs bag named after him. Therefore it was a huge deal to photograph him, plus he was a lot of fun because he was willing to pull out all these amazing poses. Since then I started photographing street style with Jess Dempsey, Melbourne Fashion Blogger of What Would Karl Do, Cecylia Kee of Cecylia.com, Kimbly Wright of Style Me Yesterday, and then landing many fashion campaign work with big name clients and going to New York Fashion Week

      2. What moves or inspires you most in life as well as work?
      What inspires me is my faith and relationship with God. He is the one who gives me inspiration and breathes purpose in what I’m doing or yet to pursue. All the people and work I’ve received, it was not my chance but the perfect timing that God has aligned me to. My heart is serving people and putting a smile on people’s faces when they see the end result or an image of themselves. I have had clients in the past who extremely loathed themselves and being in front of the camera, but I sincerely believe it’s my duty to make all my subjects feel comfortable in front of my camera. It’s all about bringing the best out of their personality and most of the time, my client has come out of the photography session as a completely changed person.

      3. What interests you most about working in photography?
      The ability to express your creativity in photos, telling stories (whether it’s the lives of others or a brand’s story), and meeting and working with all kinds of people and creatives.

      4. Where is your work based and where has it taken you recently?
      My work is based in Melbourne and it has taken me overseas to Thailand and New York Fashion Week.

      5. What elements of the work bring you the most stress?
      When unforeseen changes or circumstances occur, for example if the weather changes; under time pressure to get all the shots you need; resolving issues and managing client expectations. It is always good to be prepared, put in place plan Bs and working with the client to ensure their expectations are met. If any issues occur, always communicate them with your client, and resolve them as quickly and smoothly as possible.

      6. What approaches/techniques do you use and what would you consider your
      ‘style’?
      My technique is quite simple – it’s all about understanding how to shoot my subjects in daylight and which artificial light source to use (ie, beauty dish, soft boxes, grids, what backgrounds). Communication and direction is key to posing your subjects and styling is also a good advantage to have. I’m a detail person so I’m always conscious of looking out for any distractions, whether it’s a hair piece on the face, an arm hanging awkwardly, distraction on the ground, position is awkward. Always get your shot right in camera first, whether it’s the pose, exposures and camera settings. This will save you a lot of time when it comes to photoshopping. I’m already photoshopping when I’k taking the shot so to speak.
      What considers my ‘style’ is that way I like to use natural light (back light, contrast and shadows), composition (shooting straight and not tilting my camera) and story telling than just a pose.

      7. Which is more important to you, the subject or the way it is executed?
      Both. You need to cast the right model, the right look and experience in order to achieve the final look of the image. For example, if you are after a soft romantic and sweet looking model and image, then you would try and find the suitable model with a sweet looking face.

      If you are doing a product flat lay shoot, then the colours and products you lay out must gel and look cohesive.

      8. What does a typical work day look like for you? And how many hours do you put in?
      My typical day varies, but generally I start the day with administration (answering emails, enquiries and calling clients back), photoshoots and meeting clients, and reviewing my assistant’s work. My studio assistant does most of my retouching and booking clients in for photoshoots.

      9. With iPhones and tablets now, everyone is a photographer. What do you think the future of photography is?
      I don’t believe this is true. You can call yourself “Creative” but not a professional photographer. You won’t shoot a wedding or fashion campaign with an iphone or tablet as the quality is extremely poor and you won’t be able to enlarge an image to billboard size. Having said that, I love using my iphone to quickly document and take fun images.

      10. If there is one piece of advice that would be useful for photographers starting out, what would that be?
      Reach out to other photographers, invest in yourself whether is further education and go to on workshops, online creative courses, collaborate with others, go on trips to get inspired. One piece of advice, don’t compare yourself with others but just focus on yourself and do the best you can.

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