I want to share with you an interview with Tigz Rice, from Tigz Rice Studios. Tigz Rice is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in burlesque and boudoir photography. You will have seen her images used within the blog already as so many established performers use Tigz services for their own professional photography needs. As you will see her work speaks for itself and you will read below why she is such a success.
Tigz Rice is an internationally published photographer freelance photographer specialising in fashion, glamour and burlesque photography. Since the inception of Tigz Rice Studios in 2009, she has worked throughout Europe for a number of high profile clients and venues – including Cosmopolitan Magazine, Benefit Cosmetics and London Burlesque Festival – whilst her studio work has included some of the world’s leading burlesque performers.
|Photo by Tigz Rice Studios
Have you always wanted to be a photographer?
Photography wasn't always the dream, but I suppose it was a natural progression! As a child I was always taking photos, but back then it was certainly more of a hobby than a career dream (I actually wanted to be a neurosurgeon when I was a kid!) It wasn't until the final year of my Illustration degree at Westminster that the photographic element of my work became more apparent. I was working on a sequential imagery project about a doll coming to life, taking photos of a model that would then be manipulated in Photoshop to become matte paintings. Over the years, the illustration elements dropped away, but the photography has continued to grow and expand into a full time career.
Have you always photographed fashion, glamour, and burlesque style shoots or have you worked in other areas as well?
Fashion, glamour and burlesque have been an integral part of my work for as long as I can remember, even appearing in my school coursework to the horror of some of my tutors! It’s certainly been the main focus. I photograph a lot of live theatre and cabaret as well, which is an extension of the burlesque and an aspect of my job that I really enjoy. I also work as a graphic designer, creating branding and logos for people within the Arts industry, which is the sister side of Tigz Rice Studios. Recent logo commissions include Banbury Cross' new bulletproof Blonde logo and Betsy Rose's Monogram.
How has your business changed and developed over the years?
The business has certainly developed in leaps and bounds over the past 4 years! After launching in 2009, Tigz Rice Studios was subjected to a massive identity re brand in the summer of 2011, with a new logo and a wonderful new website. It certainly upped my game and I feel it really helped the business to grow internationally, attracting clients from all over the world and of course giving me the opportunity to become a brand ambassador for both Wacom and Adobe as an 'Influencer'. It also led in part to the wonderful opportunity to become sponsored by The Flash Centre, who now provide our studio and location Quadra lighting on all of our photo shoots. Developing the business takes a lot of hard work and dedication - and at the moment we are currently working on some even bigger changes including new studio plans and of course a band new website. Watch this space!
What do you love most about photography?
The thing I love most about photography is its ability to vocalise a thought, or a story, or an emotion, without a need for words.
What achievement with photography are you most proud of?
|Photo by Tigz Rice Studios
I am proud of myself for so many achievements, like my first published article and keeping up with my editing! Many things could be listed, but the most recent achievement in my career was being recognised an Adobe Influencer in March this year (2013) for my work in photography and retouching. To be recognised as an influential person in my industry feels incredible!
Where have you had your work published?
Where have you had your work published?
As well as several self published coffee table books over the past 6 years (one of which is in the Tate archives), I have also been published in the 'Graphic Design School' text book and a number of magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Burlesque Bible, Digital Arts, Photo Pro and Professional Photographer. I also ended up in 'New' magazine once!
It’s fairly easy for people to get what they would consider good photographs these days as digital camera specifications are increasing, editing software is easily available, even camera apps for mobile phone such as Instagram have taken off. What do you think sets apart the professional photographer from the amateur snapper?
I think your question really highlights the main difference here. There is 'good' photography and then there is 'exceptional' photography. I once held a workshop with a group of budding boudoir photographers, who were each given the exact same location, model and lighting set up. Each photographer took turns in shooting the model and came back with completely different results, some great, some not so great. The point is, you can have the right equipment, but a true photographer isn't just pointing a camera, they're telling a story. They're looking for a composition that’s visually exciting. They're looking for that emotion that inevitably forms the bond between the image and the viewer.
What behind the scenes work goes into a photo shoot, from the model turning up on the day through to the final product being produced?
The shoot really starts well before the client has even turned up to the studio! There is usually a two week period of interaction before a shoot, where we will be discussing outfits, organising locations, putting together Pinterest boards, liaising with a hair and make-up artists, answering any questions the client may have before the shoot. Occasionally we borrow pieces from designers so these need to be delivered or picked up in advance.
Photo by Tigz Rice Studios
On the day I'll be on set early with the make-up artist to set up the location and get everything ready before the client arrives, setting up lights and choosing areas to shoot from if we're in a new location. Once the client arrives we'll put the kettle on and the client will be in hair and make up for around one hour to ninety minutes, sometimes up to six hours depending on the complexity of the hair and make-up we've planned to create. The client will then get dressed and we'll shoot for maybe a couple of hours before packing everything up and heading off. Actually, the shoot itself tends to be the shortest part of the production!
Once back in the studio, all the files are uploaded to the mac and I'll go through them and pick out the flash misfires, sneezes, blinks and coughs! The client will either come into the studio to view their proofs or we organise an online gallery for viewing and the client will pick out their favourite images for editing. Once I know which images the client wants, I then work on these in post production, removing non-permanent blemishes, tidying up stray hairs and genuinely enhancing my client's fabulousness! The images are then sent off to the printers for publishing into albums or burnt onto DVD for digital copies. The entire process from inquiry to completion is actually about six to eight weeks - although of course this is spread out with other projects in between.
What type of photo-shoots do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy shooting on location as it offers a new challenge every time. Lighting issues, time constraints, the weather… Plus location shoots tend to have great textures, which really bring an image to life.
What type of photography do you have the biggest demand for?
Live burlesque photography has always been the most demanded of my services. I tend to shoot one or two live shows a week.
It really does vary as I try to get out of the studio as much as possible. Recent locations have included Cafe De Paris, Kettners and Platinum Lace.
What other photographers do you look up to?
My biggest inspiration at the moment is Kirsty Mitchell, who is just coming to the end of her Wonderland series. I've been following her work for several years and her creativity and dedication to her work is just phenomenal. Of course, my inspiration comes from many other places too, including music and reading. I'm also inspired by the work of author Trudi Canavan who explores the ideas of magic and power. Well worth a read!
You have worked with some fabulous people. Can you share for the readers the people you have had the chance to work with?
The list is too long to mention everyone, but some of the people I've particularly enjoyed working with are Banbury Cross, Polly Rae, Betsy Rose, Missy Fatale, Billie Rae, Aurora Galore, Laurie Hagen, Marnie Scarlet, Vicky Butterfly, Anna Fur Laxis, Kitty Bang Bang and Kiki Kaboom.
Who has been your favourite model to work with?
Its a tough one, but I would probably have to choose Billie Rae as I still regularly use shots from all of our studio shoots together. Billie was actually my first ever burlesque photo shoot and one of the images from that shoot has been published more times than any other image in my archive.
What have you found makes a great model?
A great model is someone who gives me their complete all in front of the camera, someone who exposes themselves to the possibility of some hilarious outtakes. A great model is willing to break moulds, to push the boundaries of possibility, to hold those poses that feel utterly ridiculous with a pout to rival posh spice in the nineties. A great model is usually the one that walks onto set and starts by saying "I had this crazy idea, I don't know if it will work, but…"
|Photo by Tigz Rice Studios
What advice would you offer to models looking to build a portfolio?
Invest wisely! Choose two or three different photographers as you will have more versatility in your portfolio. These photographers should be chosen by whose work will be the most fitting for the style of work you are most suited for - not just because you like the photographer or because they are the cheapest. Do your research on the photographers: Is the photographer respected in the community? Think carefully about how many photos you REALLY need from each shoot. You don't actually need 10 photos of you in the same dress. Take multiple outfit options to the studio with you and trust your photographer. They will know what will photograph best on camera (disclaimer: you ALWAYS have the option to say no). Finally, build up a relationship with your photographers. If you credit them, share work and show some love, they will invariably do the same for you.
Are you teamed up with a hair and make-up artist for your shoots?
Tigz Rice Studios works with a number of talented hair and make-up professionals; however Miss Honey Bare has been part of the studio family since the very beginning and has residential status, providing hair and make up for most of our shoots. Honey is a specialist in period accurate vintage hair and her victory rolls are just perfect!
You have worked with some of the best burlesque names in the business. How does a burlesque shoot differ to a fashion shoot?
The burlesque shoot is more about the model; fashion shoots are more about the clothes and accessories! Otherwise, the principles of both are pretty much the same.
You have also photographed many performers in action, what challenges does this make?
Most commonly, the issue with shooting burlesque performers in action is the lack of light. Burlesque venues tend to be low or poorly lit and flash guns are invasive for the audience, so the photographer has to make a choice between shutter speed (leading to longer exposure times and often less sharp or blurred images) aperture (leading to a shallower depth of field and more chance of your shot being out of focus) and ISO (and therefore more grainy images). Then factor in a moving performer dancing a new act you've not seen before to music you've never heard! No two shows are ever the same, even within the same venue, so shooting live definitely keeps me on my toes.
|Photo by Tigz Rice Studio
Who are your personal favourite burlesque performers to watch?
I really love watching Missy Fatale (Kabarett Verboten) Laurie Hagen (Reverse Striptease) and Kitty Bang Bang (Viva LAs Vegas). If they could all be in a show together with Jo Foley, Hamish McCann and David O'Mer providing variety and compered by Benjamin Louche, it would be the perfect show.
Why should someone choose Tigz Rice Studios for their photography needs?
Well, I'm definitely biased, but here at Tigz Rice Studios we've spent the last four years perfecting our skills and the overall studio experience to make sure we are offering our clients - both established/non-established performers and private clients - only the very best in photographic services. Everyone who works with me in the studio is handpicked for their incredible talents and our products on offer come from years of experience working with clients to make sure what we offer matches their requirements. I'm excited to mention that clients have travelled to London from all Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand to shoot in our studios, with many repeat clients. We've excited to work with you, so get in touch!
What do you like to do with your down time?
I'm not sure I every really do 'downtime', but when I'm not working I'm usually at the gym, or in the theatre, or planning world domination. I love to read and listen to music, pretty much any music from metal to classical. I enjoy meeting new people and trying new things. And when I sit down, its usually for a quick nap!
What does the future hold for Tigz Rice Studios?
There are so many exciting things happening in the next twelve months for Tigz Rice Studios, most of which unfortunately are secret ninja projects at the moment, but keep an eye on the blog of course for more information. A couple of goals I have set myself though are to appear in Vogue Magazine, to shoot for Agent Provocateur and to work with the Royal Ballet. So, if you see me, please ask how I'm doing on all three of these goals...
I would like to thank Tigz for her time with this interview. If you are interested in making a booking or taking part in the Boudoir on Location session please contact Tigz on email@example.com. I hope you have enjoyed.