We were recently lucky enough to collaborate with and speak to the amazing Amelia Le Brun on a recent photography road trip, whose career as a photographer has taken her across the world shooting everything from landscapes, product photos and portraits. Her incredible eye in photography means she manages to capture some really natural moments that draw our eye with beautiful colours and scenery making us wish we were there.
Want fewer words and more photos? Head to Amelia's gallery here!
Your work takes you all over the world to some incredible locations, what would you say your favourite place was to shoot and why?
Oh now, this is a difficult question to answer! I don’t tend to have favourites, every single location I have visited is so different it's hard to compare them. At a push I would have to say Finland but in the Summer. I spent a month working for the tourist board on a reindeer farm and hiking through the beautiful landscapes. The people I met, the reason I was there and the experiences I had to make this country my favourite.
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What is one key bit of advice you would give to someone looking to get into portrait and product photography?
Shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Make mistakes, learn. Don't get hung up on the best gear, and don’t think you have to travel halfway across the world to be noticed and to get jobs. Stay true to yourself, be inspired by other people but don’t try to copy, people will hire you for you, not for someone else.
How did you get into photography and get to be where you are now? Have you always been drawn to photography or was it something you picked up over time?
I have always been creative, painting, drawing and taking photos. Drawing and painting have petered out, but photography has stayed with me ever since I was around 8 or 9 years old.
Do you feel that your upbringing in Jamaica has had an impact on your style in photography?
Growing up in Jamaica was the thing that started my entire photographic journey. I'm surprised I didn’t bankrupt my parents the amount of film I shot. Everything from our Land Rover on our favourite beach, to stray dogs in downtown Kingston. Without this chapter in my life I often wonder whether I would even be a photographer. My heart lies in street and documentary photography, it's the way I fell in love with taking photos. I was surrounded by culture and scenery that just doesn’t exist here in the UK, the desire to remember my childhood through the mundane and everyday happiness still lives in the back of my photographic mind.
A lot of your photographs are taken on film, what draws you to this medium?
I have a very obsessive personality, if I am shooting digital I will often take a very similar photo dozens of times, re-shooting if I am not happy with every minor detail. The amount of time I spend staring at the back of that camera screen stops me from enjoying the moment and makes me obsess. With film, I like to take my one chance and allow myself to be more present at the time. As someone who travels a lot, how do you keep your kit bag? Do you restrict what you take camera wise to the bare necessities or do you bring everything ‘just in case’ and deal with the bad back later?
I used to be a bring everything I own kind of person, but the same problem as above still struck. I spent so much time trying to decide what lens I should use, what format I should be shooting in that I ended up missing moments and my brain clouding with doubt. Now, if I am staying local, I carry my Leica Q2, A film point and shoot, a plastic SLR body with my chosen modern Canon lens on, and my fat medium format! If I am going anywhere where I am carrying my own gear, I lose the medium format and just sling my Leica around my neck, and slip my Olympus point and shoot in my pocket.
What are your best and worse experiences on a shoot?
The best trips are coming thick and fast, there are so many ‘best trips’, and they are all road trips. From going through the UK and Europe in the van, or through Italy in a convertible. The worst was A disastrous road trip, I chose the wrong people to travel with and honestly the whole thing was just a load of wasted money, anxiety and tension. I chalk it up to experience now and am, since, very careful with who I chose to travel with. In fact, I will often opt to travel alone.
One thing that really resonated with us and that we wanted to touch on is your role as a mental health advocate. Do you feel that photography has had a therapeutic role in your own journey and can possibly help others find their way?
The most important thing to me is the idea that I can potentially help someone else. Be this by being as open and honest as possible, by sharing my photos or by listening if someone needs to vent. As to whether photography is therapeutic for me, I don’t think its the act of taking the photo that helps, I believe it is the excitement and energy that goes into planning a trip, researching a new film camera and packing up the van or hold luggage, its the purpose and opportunities that taking photos gives me, rather than the act of taking the photo itself.
How do you go about choosing a location when working on a shoot, do you have a list of favourite places banked for future shoots or are you scouting specifically for a brief?
It really varies. I have a whole bank of locations I want to visit, and I try to visit every one of them with a purpose. If I have a specific shoot coming up, I usually have a rough idea of the place I want to shoot depending on the vibe/ budget/ deliverables.
You have been super successful so far but looking forward, do you have any big goals or aspirations for the future both career-wise and personally?
I really want to be in the position to be able to help people, I am currently working on hosting a workshop in The Faroe Islands. I want to work toward being a more prominent mental health advocate and support people who have struggled in the same way as I have. Building a community and lifting others up is really important to me in all aspects of life.
For us, your images often portray a feeling of serenity and hope, through the calm scenery and lighting often with bright beautiful colours, is this something that you are consciously trying to achieve or are there other elements that you focus on that are key when framing a photo in your mind?
Thank you! When I am taking photos I try not to overthink it. I trust my gut and shoot what feels right in my heart. I regret 100% of the photos I didn’t take, but I try and take those feelings forward and make sure I learn from the missed opportunities.
And finally! Time for some quickfire questions...
What is your camera of choice?
Leica Q2 (Digital) Pentax 6x7 (film)
What is your film stock of choice?
Portra 800 (when I can afford it) I love Kodak Gold too
What is your favourite location?
That is an impossible question to answer, every location is different and beautiful in different ways. My favourite location is the one I am in at the moment I’m shooting.
Must have piece of camera kit other than your camera?
Favourite time to shoot?
It used to be sunrise, but I find sunset a lot more relaxed, you can shoot into blue hour and everything feels more enjoyable.
Favourite subject to shoot?
The van, and road trip experiences
Fujifilm Nexia Q1, and what a classic it was
First photo taken?
It will have been a stray dog on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica.
Want to see more of Amelia's shots? Head her gallery!
To see more of Amelia's work head to her website or Instagram to keep up with his latest videos, photos & Adventures.
Or, head to our film developing page if you've shot some film you're desperate to get the shots back from!