Allie Crewe Lifestyle Photography: Going behind the camera

Jo Boon sat down with Allie from Allie Crewe Lifestyle Photography to find our more about what inspires her work. We recently had Allie's work on display at Islington Mill in Manchester, and will be showing more very soon on 18th September in Scotland- keep an eye on our Facebook page for details. 

Please could you introduce yourself to our readers, and tell us a little bit about your work. 

I started teaching media and analysing images all day about 20 years ago. I definitely like to stop and think about what the photographs I take might mean, especially in terms of how gender and our identity is constructed. 

What inspires and motivates your artwork? 

I get inspiration every day when I see light and colour. Walking down a street I stare at people! Often I ask them to model. Some people fascinate me, teenagers particularly as they are still defining themselves and are often more experimental. I love shooting women and the experience can be very intimate - waiting for the veil to drop to see if she dares to reveal herself. I also work and train with other photographers as this nurtures me.  

How long have you been working creatively? 

All of my adult life. I started out on 35 mm and entered the dark room when I was 17 years old. I stand in front of a screen every day analysis moving images. I recently went back to stills and signed up for a City &Guilds technical training - I love learning and developing my style. 

What have been your favourite projects so far? 

A lot of commercial photography jobs have a short shelf life - after they are finished I love them for a day or two, then I move on. I need work of substance - which is why the collaboration with Label was more fulfilling. 

allie crew.jpg

What does body positivity mean to you? 

To define "beauty" within the narrow constraints of high fashion or reality T.V. is just plain boring. I could call it immoral and question its negative impact on its audience. But why not focus upon making a change and celebrating different lifestyles, body shapes, identities and challenge our idea of beauty through doing something positive. So in my own projects I look for these opportunities. It is old fashioned but true: beauty is within. When I hold my lens up to a person, they become beautiful and fascinating. As a lecturer I teach a lot of gender theory - as I photographer I am out there trying to make a little difference each time I shoot. I keep trying to avoid objectifying women and to construct a "female gaze" 

Do you have any advice for people just starting out? 

I am just starting out. Two years ago I went back to night school and began re-training. I will always be a student because I never stop learning. Say "yes" to every shoot, work out how to do it, make a connection with the model, aim to gain their trust. Ask for help!

What would you like to do in the future? 

Work freelance full time. Combine the more profitable commercial work with my own more "art" based projects. The latter will influence the former. People pay me for a style. 

What story/ ideas/ identities would you like to share through your work? 

As a victim of child abuse I had to work out how to survive. That sense of self is in my work. Sometimes it is fragile. I focus on women more than men, I am especially drawn to people who cannot see their own beauty and strength and I try to focus on that when I shoot. Sometimes clients do not recognise the woman I showed them, because she looks too strong, or joyful. But I can only shoot what I see. So I work through this story a lot. I am currently working towards an exhibition in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire where I can work with other photographers and push myself creatively to develop this narrative which is personal - yes - but also a story that so many people can connect with. Charting survival is where I focus. 

For more of Allie's amazing work, head on over to her Facebook page.