“Don’t try to copy others because they will always execute their style better than you can copy it.”
What country are you from and where do you live?
I was born and bred in West Midlands United Kingdom. Currently living with my partner and our two children in Wolverhampton. I commute to London for work.
Title of what you do and what company you work with?
I am a Hair and Beauty Photographer and run my own Ltd Company – Richard Miles Photography Ltd.
Education background (art school, photography class, self taught)?
Having been interested in art and design from a very young age, I was given my first SLR camera by my Grandad at age eleven. By the age of sixteen, I was convinced that graphic design was my calling and proceeded to carry out work experience in this field. Later on, as part of my degree, I completed a mini-course in photography which sparked up my interest again. I then completed a BA Hons Degree in Visual Communications, specialising in photography and never looked back.
What is your signature style/artistic expression to your work?
As a University Graduate, my interests lay in fashion and beauty. My first ‘test’ happened to be a hair shoot, and I found that hair imagery was a perfect balance of these two fields. If I was to classify my work I would say I lean more towards beauty than fashion.
What type of images or people do you like to shoot?
Due to the sheer amount of clients I have built up in the hair industry, I have little time for anything else these days, so at this time I would say I’m a hair photographer – however, as I am so focused on the skin and make-up in such detail, I do like to call it hair and beauty!
Do you have a career turning point or big break that has helped your career?
Shooting my first test for celebrity hairdressers Royston Blythe and Nick Malenko was my first break into the hair world. My phone number had made its way to them via a friend, and as I only lived around the corner from them in Wolverhampton, it was meant to be! They were on the look out for a new photographer and at age 22 I went to meet with them. The shoot made it into all the industry mags, and my client list grew from there.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Working in a great team where I have built a good rapport is always very rewarding. When you know each member of the team so well that you know what they’re thinking…..make-up artists, fashion stylists, hairdressers and even the models. I’ll know within 60 seconds of shooting the first look if it’s going to be a great shoot. I only tend to have 10-15 minutes to get ‘the shot’ from each model, so that relationship between photographer and model needs to develop very quickly! It can be very challenging when models are inexperienced, but my job is to make sure that person goes from insecure to confident in a matter of minutes. I’ll know when I’ve got what I want from a model, usually before looking at the images….and when the client loves the shots as much as I do, that’s when I’m happy.
What kind of specialist knowledge do you need to have to create amazing hair imagery – eg the lighting, how to sensitively retouch hair images etc?
Photography and lighting wise, I’d say being an experienced beauty photographer is 50% of it. I think any beauty photographer can take nice images of hairstyles, but that’s not what I want from my work. I always try to bring the hair to life, to tell a story in a beautiful way. I need the hair to be the hero, but I want it to be the ‘feeling’ that draws you to the image, and you notice the hair almost secondary. Re-touch is a separate skill entirely. You need to be sensitive enough to not spoil the intimacy and immediacy of the image, but still remove any distractions that get in the way of the story. I like to know beforehand if I’m shooting predominantly for a colour or black and white collection, as this can change the way I shoot and use the lighting.
What was your scariest and proudest moment in your career?
I can’t really say I’ve ever felt scared as such. Anxious maybe in the early days when first getting work for the big names in the industry and not wanting to let anyone down. Proudest moment must have been seeing my first few front covers on industry magazines and of course the moment my client Robert Eaton won the big one, and was crowned British Hairdresser of the Year 2019!
What is next for your career goals?
It sounds crazy but creating more time to spend with my children would be my ultimate goal, whilst still maintaining a top client base. I guess what I’m trying to say is I would like to get into a position where I can pick and choose the work I do which would free me up a little more for breaks and family time. A photography career at this level isn’t the most family friendly when it comes to how much you have to commit your time to it and something eventually has got to give!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your business?
Let your own style be your USP. Don’t try to copy others because they will always execute their style better than you can copy it. I believe being yourself is the most important thing when it comes to anything creative. Have confidence in your ability and this will give your clients confidence in you.