I have a been a big fan of UK based editorial photographer Magic Owen for a while, her work has gone from strength to strength in an incredibly short space of time and that is certainly not by chance. Magic's relentless dedication to her craft has been justly rewarded by being published in countless magazines and blogs because she has a unique way of selling her artistic vision. Magic explains in this interview that she has previously had the rare the opportunity to take part in many other roles on the opposite side of the camera, that for me is what makes her style stand out, a style that is the work of somebody that can see the bigger picture not just whats in her viewfinder.
Magic, please give us your elevator speech to begin with
I am a self taught photographer, born in France.
I first layed my hand on a camera when I was 15, but was interested in too many things like psychology, art, and languages to listen to my calling.
I am now based in Oxfordshire, UK. I shoot a lot of different things but my first love is fashion/Beauty. That is where my heart is and where my future is.
I have have started to take photography seriously at 35, 3 years ago and went part time (I have 2 jobs! we all need a regular income!) to let myself express myself artistically
Lets get some of the geeky stuff out of the way, whats in your camera bag? Is there anything in there you can't live without when you're shooting?
I have an OM-D and a 12-50 Olympus lens + a Leica 1:2.8/45 macro lens, and for fun an SLR Magic Toy lens. I use a use a Linux workstation running Gimp/Darktable (no photoshop!).
In my studio i have Bowens lighings, and lots of different coloured gels which I like to play with. I am all about experimenting and I don't have any particular habits which i must follow.
In your portfolio you have a mix of studio lighting and natural light images, do you have a preference as to how you light your images?
I like all lights, natural and studio, and use them to express the mood I am in at the time of the shoot depending on the concept/vision I have.
I understand that you started off playing a different role in the creative process of photography. Can you elaborate on this and perhaps tell us how this may of influenced your vision now that you're behind the camera?
I used to model back when I lived in France, which I got into because of low selfesteem! Weird I know! Not all models are up themselves and we all have different reasons for getting into modelling.
I am not ashamed to say that I have had eating disorders, and Body Dismorphia disorders which is very hard to deal with as a teen and an adult. I have always been artistic and used to draw in my spare time. My camera is simply an extension of my pencil if that makes sense. Previously I would borrow my best friend's camera or buy disposable cameras to experiment. Then I got into proper photography and used the darkroom for hours until I discovered digital. Having been a model I understand angles and I am able to guide models into getting the best shapes/poses/facial expressions, depending on if we are going for commercial/fashion....
I also know how important hair and makeup is in getting the best image. As I have worked with muas/hair stylist as a model/photographer I know to look at details a lot of photographers tend not to notice.
To have this many great shots in your portfolio already you must be a very self driven person, what would you consider to be the key elements in your development in photography?
I am very self driven but not out of choice, I have tried to give up photography on a few occasions having lost my mojo.
I have artistic visions which won't let me rest! My brain is always creating, shooting and investing in new concepts. Once I have achieved my vision through an image, my brain moves on to the next idea, it never shuts up and it gets particular active when I should be asleep!
The vast majority of your work is conceptual styling and extreme fashion but I notice you also occasionally shoot some very serene and intimate nature shots. Do you find the stark contrast between these two genres helps feed one another?
I see beauty in many places, which could be a face, a fashion piece, a leaf in the forest, textures.....it all comes from the same urge to capture something special. Anything and everything can awaken my senses and inspire me
Going through your portfolio it's clear to see that you use some post production in your imagery, is this something you have a clear vision for from the start and shoot with that in mind or is post production influenced by your photographs?
Every picture I take and load into the Gimp is sometime like an unfinished painting. Sometimes I just tweak somthing little and I am satisfied, and sometimes I feel the need to be more creative with my image.
There are so many steps to creating great images like yours but what is your favourite part of the photographic process?
My favourite part is the chemical reaction that runs through my body once I have my shot :p they are like orgasms lol I listen to my body which tells me when I have achieved my goal.
Do you love planning the shots or are you somebody who loves shooting and hates post production or somebody who loves watching the image transform in post?
I am a control freak and impulsive all at once! I love planning, looking at inspiration, making moodboards....but I also like to be impuslive and feed of my model's personality
A lot of your photographs seem quite conceptual, where do you get your inspiration from for your images? Are you inspired by other photographers and their work or are your images inspired and driven by a mood or theme?
I am always looking at fashion/beauty....websites. Trendhunter is one of them, Fashionography is another.
I admire photographers like Miguel Reveriego, Andrew Robert Fox, Mario Testino, Steven Klein and Mikael Jansson.
How would you describe your particular style in photography and do you think its important for a photographer to have a defining style to stand out in todays sea of image makers?
I think you have to be true to yourself and develop your own style. To be honest I don't even know what my style is, I would call myself an industrial photographer (like industrial music).
I am always evolving, always experimenting and I am sure my style will change over the years. A camera is just a tool for me, I don't even like calling myself a photographer.
In your opinion what makes a 'great' image, what separates a good photo from an average photo for you?
In my opinion the "eye" is everything. If you don't see potential images when you look at the world, it doesn't matter how much technical knowlege you have or how expensive your camera is, you will never take a great image.
What's your favourite image that you've ever taken and why?
My favorite image changes depending on my mood. One of my all time favourites though is a beauty shot of Leanne James who is wearing a a few headdresses (on her head and around her neck) made of silk roses. I wanted to take Leanne out of the Alternative scene and capture what I see in her. To me she is a beauty girl, she has the most amazing features and skin and I had to experiment with that to see if it would work.
Can you tell us what you're currently working on?
I am catching up on editing before flying off to Texas in a few days for 2 editorials.
If you could work alongside one photographer for a day who would it be and why?
I would love to shoot alongside An Lee, I love the emotion, tension and darkness of his images. I would love to learn from him to take my work to another level.
What would your dream shoot be?
I can't talk about it as i am going to realise it in a few months!
This is something I dreamt to do a year or so ago and I am in the process or organising it! Eeeeeeee I am very excited!
My other dream shoot would be a Mise en Cage campain shooting Tessa Kuragi! She is pure perfection! One day! ;)
You have already seen amazing success with your photography and you have so many images published and won numerous awards for your work but what's next for Magic Owen, what are your goals with regards to your photographic career?
Take over the world mwuhhaaahhhaahahaah lol lets just say I dream biiiiig!
I must just say a really big thank you to Magic for taking the time to do this interview and for being so candid and honest in her responses, I for one found her to be an inspiration and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future and her 'big dream project' in a couple of months!
To connect with Magic Owen you can do so at any of her online hubs below, definitely stop by to say hi and to check out more of her fantastic work.
All the images contained within this article are the sole property of Magic Owen. Any copying or reproduction of these images without the prior consent of the copyright holder is strictly prohibited.