Julie Davenport says she shops rarely, likes to travel often, and would rather spend time in Paris with her camera than buy a new pair of shoes! She loves film, particularly black and white. For her, photography is her world – from her professional work (children, equine portraits and commercial work) to the personal projects that fill her spare time. Check out her website and her personal work.
How did you get into photography?
I didn’t get into photography… it got into me! It is in the genes in our family. My mum was a photographer long before I arrived. I always say that I was born with a camera in my hand. I can’t remember not having cameras in my life – one of my very first memories is being allowed to take a photograph with my mum’s precious red box Brownie on a remote island off the west coast of Scotland. I made a double exposure and was told that it was a waste of an exposure (because of the expense).
Some of my most treasured possessions are old family photographs. For me this particular photograph has a very strong narrative, and this is what I try to capture when taking photographs. It is this collection of images that inspired me to get into the darkroom all those years ago. My daughter, Lucy Davenport, also enjoys shooting film when she’s not working as a wedding and bridal fashion photographer. Bliss.
I love the worn, creased parts of this photograph of my mother… the life it has led
How would you describe your style?
I like to describe it as timeless, sometimes playful, with a classic influence. My friend, muse and mentor Bella West calls it “contemporary and honest portraiture with a strong classical element. There is an element of control, but it is embellished with a natural edge, which allows the images to breathe”.
What message do you want to convey in your photographs?
I love to introduce a narrative in my imagery, but overall a sense of peace and calm to aid the classic feel. There is a current movement in photography which gives a sense of speed – taking lots of photographs in a short space of time and honing in on the fun side of the shoot. I admire people who follow this, but for me it is much more personal. In my portraiture I prefer to calm things down and contemplate every shot, taking only a handful of shots, all carefully considered. I feel it is my film upbringing that is responsible for this.
To me this photo signifies calmness, grace and poise. I was shooting this young lady, a Flower Girl on the Dorset/Wiltshire border to document the hard work that she puts in behind the scenes. The weather was not helping – rain and heat was wilting the blooms. Her team were working from a barn and after a wonderful picnic lunch, I took Tattie to one side to take some portrait shots in the calm darkness of the barn. The light in there was sublime, and Tattie was happy to take time out from the madness of her work.
Who inspires you and why?
My friend Bella inspires me – she also bullies me! This is for the greater good – she pulls me and pushes me. I love it. I call her my personal trainer. I also admire Carla Coulson for her meteoric rise and the way she is following a new and scary path without question. There are many others: Deborah Turberville for her creative vision, Berenice Abbot for following her beliefs, Lillian Bassman for taking up Photoshop well into her 80s and still working when she died aged 94! Truly inspirational.
What is your favourite thing to photograph?
Whatever is in front of me. I will see shots in everything, and my quest in photography is relentless. Professionally it has to be children and horses. I love to find a shaft of light and carefully place them within that found light. Directional light is really important to me, especially for black and white work.
Which is your favourite recent photo and what is the story behind it?
My favourite photograph from my recent work is of a little girl with her favourite pony. She is the youngest of six and the pony has, I think, has taught them all to ride! When I talk about narrative, this is exactly what I mean. It’s not a technically brilliant shot, but it was taken during a totally spontaneous moment and tells of the love that this little girl has for her pony.
What projects are you planning?
Professionally I am planning a couple of portraits of children at the moment. I am also planning a shoot with a dressage rider in full regalia. On the commercial side I am mid-project with a make-up artist and a hairdresser, making photographs for their respective websites. The next shoot will be with a dark-haired model, so I am researching and planning a homage to Audrey Hepburn. Grace, poise, elegance!
On a personal level, I am shooting a body of work entitled “portraits without people” this will take me to new or different places, to discover new locations and find natural frames within the landscape and shoot them with film. I liken my film work to going to the gym –- it keeps me in top form ready for when I shoot professionally with my digital kit.
What is your favourite film shot?
This photograph put me on the path of exploring white on white. I was trying to take a photograph of a white feather on a white windowsill. I shot with colour film, but was attempting to make a monochrome shot. The result was a very warm-toned image. This particular photograph inspires me to push myself with film in order to get closer, I hope, to a fellowship with either the BIPP or RPS.
What would your superpower be?
I am fascinated by the naturally creative mind, so I would love to have the ability to get inside the minds of creative people, look at how they see the world and understand what makes them tick.