“I love the closeness of macro beauty and the intricate details, composition, and slight variation of angles and lighting that all become so significant when you are so close up that hair and fashion are no longer a consideration.”

Richard Miles

What country are you from, and where do you live?

I was born and raised in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, UK. I still live in Wolverhampton and commute to most jobs, which are usually London-based. After 20 years in the industry, travelling for me has become the norm!

Title of what you do and what company you work with?

I am a hair and beauty photographer running my 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 11. By 16, I was convinced that graphic design was my calling and proceeded to carry out work experience in this field, immediately being offered a full-time job in graphics. I turned this down then as I knew there was more to discover and learn. Later on, as part of my degree, I completed a mini-course in photography, which sparked my interest again. I then completed a BA Hons Degree in Visual Communications, specializing in Photography and never looked back.

What is your signature style/artistic expression in your work?

As a university graduate, my interests lay in fashion and beauty. My first ‘test shoot’ happened to be a hair shoot, and to my delight, I found that hair imagery perfectly balanced these two genres. If I were to classify my work, I would say I lean more towards beauty due to the intensity of the work. It’s a trait that forms part of my personality, I think!

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 to 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! I have recently been branching out into the world of beauty and enjoying the results, I love the closeness of macro beauty and the intricate details, composition, and slight variation of angles and lighting that all become so significant when you are so close up that hair and fashion are no longer a consideration.

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 lookout for a new photographer, and at age 22, I went to meet with them. The shoot entered all the industry and consumer magazines then, and my client list grew organically.

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 team member 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 will be a great shoot. I only have 10-15 minutes to get ‘the shot’ from each model, so that relationship between photographer and model needs to develop quickly! It can be very challenging when models are inexperienced, but my job is to ensure that person goes from insecure to confident in 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 create fantastic hair imagery – e.g. the lighting, how to retouch hair images sensitively, etc.?

Photography and lighting-wise, I’d say being an experienced beauty photographer is 50% of it. I think any beauty photographer can take excellent 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 beautifully. 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 is almost secondary. Re-touch is a separate skill entirely. You need to be sensitive enough not to 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 how I shoot and use the lighting.

What was your scariest and proudest moment in your career?

I can’t 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. My proudest moment must have been seeing my first few front covers of industry magazines and, of course, the two times my client Robert Eaton was crowned British Hairdresser of the Year 2019 and 2021!

What is next for your career goals?

Building up my beauty client base would be my next goal. I like the challenge of trying something new and having a project to work towards. Having something different to hair photography going on in the background will keep hair shoots nice and fresh in my mind and give me the clarity needed to keep innovating and moving things forward. It’s far too easy to fall into a rut with an artistic career, especially when what you do can quickly get repetitive if you become lazy!

What advice would you give to someone starting your business?

Let your own style be your USP. Don’t try to copy others because they will consistently execute their style better than you can copy it. I believe being yourself with your vision is the most important thing when it comes to anything creative. Have confidence in your ability, which will give your clients trust. Then, you’ll get more clients as they rave about your work, your experience and knowledge of your craft will increase, and you’ll have even more confidence in yourself, and the cycle repeats. It’s all a giant snowball of momentum!

Instagram @richmilesphoto
Website www.richardmilesphotography.co.uk