Audrey Simper is a 21-year-old visual artist engaged in portrait, conceptual and fashion photography. She’s a completely self-taught in all her pursuits and brings her curious imagination alive in stunning images edited to perfection. Raised in Chicago, Audrey aspired to become an artist since her early childhood but studied architecture at the university. Over time, she began to delve too deep into her photo projects which gave her reasons big enough to dedicate more time and efforts to make photography her full-time profession. The world of self-portraiture and conceptual photography is going through the crisis of originality and unique images are becoming rare by day. Audrey’s photos are fresh dreams coming into reality through precise manipulations. Her fashion portraits are equally splendid. Audrey has a long way to go. Here’s she with us sharing some details of her art:
I was born in Utah, raised in Chicago, IL. I studied Architecture for 2 years at The Illinois Institute of Technology only to realize that I really wanted to pursue photography as a career. It had been a hobby of mine throughout high school as well as dance, drawing and painting for a brief summer. My hobbies now consist of anything that has to do with photography, creating headpieces, planning shoots on Pinterest, dance (have to get my workout in!) and playing Candy Crush… yep I’m addicted.
When did you develop a passion for photography?
My interest in photography began in high school when I had taken all the drawing classes that were available, I needed more art in my life so I decided to take a film photography class. It was a lot of fun, but even more fun ensued when I discovered Photoshop. It’s an amazing tool that allows you to create almost anything that you can think of. It can only be described as magic.
But unfortunately I grew up with the mindset that art wasn’t a real career unless you were a really good artist and I wasn’t that great back in the day. I did like to design floor plans of my dream homes though. So Architecture it was. But after two years of that I found myself fulfilling my assignments by taking the easy way out, so that I had time to spend on the things I really cared about, photography! That’s when I started to get better and people actually wanted to pay me to do what I loved, what a concept! I’ve started my photography business about 2 years ago and I think I just about have it figured out 🙂
What does photography mean to you?
Photography to me means story telling, every photo tells a story even if it’s just a portrait. It’s such a creative and versatile medium and that’s what I love about it. I have always had a desire to create and design whether it was a bracelet or a building, I love to design tasteful and beautiful things and photography allows me to do that without fail. I see everything as I would through my camera, so I always keep my eye out for pleasing and unique locations and compositions.
Everyone knows me for my conceptual pieces, but for a while I have been obsessed with fashion and beauty photography. I eventually want to specialize in solely fashion, beauty and commercial photography. But at the moment I enjoy photographing weddings, events, creative portraits as well as fashion, editorial and beauty work.
What are the creative and technical steps you care most for while a shoot:
The moment I decide to snap my images are when I am satisfied with the following key aspects: 1. The lighting is correct 2. The models expression is perfect 3. The pose is appealing, no amputees here! 4. minimal distracting elements (like tags, stray hairs, wardrobe malfunctions. and finally the 4th thing I look for through the viewfinder is a pleasing composition.
Somehow I have developed the best fan-group ever. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but everyone has been so supportive of my work and have given me such amazing feedback which i am so grateful for. They are one of my biggest achievements 🙂 I was recently asked to give a speech about my work at a local high school, and that for me is a great achievement. Final thing, a hair salon wants me to shoot their next editorial project and I could not be more excited for that!
My clients are usually female since my work is soft and feminine, anyone that’s seeking creative images for their head-shots, model portfolio, or just for fun. I also work with designers, clothing companies, makeup artist and hair stylists. And of course engaged couples planning beautiful weddings!
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III, 50mm 1.4 lens, shooting with the lowest ISO possible and usually an aperture between 1.8 – 2.2. I love the 50mm since it provides the least distortion and the lower aperture allows me to get a really nice creamy depth of field which I am in love with, it really brings your attention to the subject.
Once I finish a shoot, I upload the images to my desktop and usually my external as well! Then I will view the images in Bridge, sort through them, choose my favorites, and then open them up into ACR where I fix any issues and usually apply a VSCO preset of my liking. Then into Photoshop we go to start the magic. I love to play around with Photoshop and I am always trying to find the best and easiest way to do what I do. I think photo manipulation is done well when the image is seamless and appears natural as if there was no retouching even if obviously so. Other than that, I love to play around with colors, curves and blending modes.
The majority of my conceptual work are self portraits and I shoot them on my own using a tripod and remote. When an idea would pop into my head, I would make a quick sketch of it if I didn’t have the means to shoot it right away. I always wanted to tell a story through my conceptual images, but to make the images stand out even more, I loved using photo manipulation to pair with my stories. As a girl who embraces ideas of fantasy, magical creatures and a more beautiful world, my images usually involved some sort of dreamlike land that my subjects appeared to be in. I loved to make my viewers feel as though they had peered into this magical little undiscovered world watching the subject go about their magical business. When I do come up with an idea, I then have to plan out the location, lighting, outfits, camera settings, etc to make the story believable.
It’s true that conceptual photography has become really popular in general. I think photo manipulation in this form starts out as a way to express ourselves, get out all of our emotions and exercise our creativity as a kind of therapy. That’s how it began for me. But it grew to be so popular because everyone enjoys looking at these images, embracing the beauty, trying to figure it out or really relating to the emotional pieces. It’s become such a strong art form and clients everywhere are loving it. A very clear way to tell a story is to sum it up all in one image and that’s exactly what conceptual photography does. It’s different, it’s unique and it’s what a lot of companies and bands want right now because it’s still new and amazing to them.
I think this art form sometimes feels repetitive only because when some artists run out of ideas, they look at other photographers for new ideas, and the outcome isn’t always original. But that’s art, everyone is inspired by everyone and we run out of original ideas from time to time. But if you notice the artists that are popular, they stand out, their work is different, their images are like nothing we’ve ever seen before even if the idea wasn’t original. I believe that my work stands out through my consistent style of femininity, whimsy, softness, use of color and my ability to determine tasteful styling and composition. With my experience with conceptual photography, I want to use those creative ideals to create original fashion editorials.
It’s hard to say anything about the best places to shoot in Chicago. I am always happy with a forest or floral location out in the suburbs but the city has a lot of offer in terms of architecture, different textures and colors from the buildings, and beaches! There is barely any fashion work, clients are looking for commercial photographers in Chicago and a lot of the work I’ve seen is much different than mine. That could either mean that I offer something copmpletely different that could be the next big trend, or my work belong in LA, where I plan to move to!
Tell us about your future plans and sources of inspirations:
I dream of living in LA and working as a fashion and beauty photographer 🙂 that would make my life. My inspirations include: Clothing, Music, Lighting and processing techniques, unique models, stunning locations and scenery, and of course the photographers that I look up to. I have too many favorite photographers to name but Karah Kobus, Emily Soto, Rosie Hardy, Joel Grimes and Lara Jade come to mind instantly.
Sometimes I get lazy or uninspired, and I have to force myself to plan a shoot via pinterest. Once I get an idea the rest falls into place! Plus I am constantly seeking inspiration from images I see online everyday to come up with new ideas and break out of my comfort zone. There’s something Steve Jobs said that I find very inspiring: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
Say something to young artists who follow your work closely:
I’d like to tell them that if they want to start a business, study marketing!!! and you have to just do what makes you happy in life, no excuses! Just go out and do it and you’ll figure the rest out.