Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Morning all! (and for some, not so morning where you are ;)

Today I have the absolute pleasure to introduce to you an artist that is redefining storytelling through her camera and the commitment to telling a story that not only grabs the viewer, but immerses you within it. I only discovered her work about a year ago by stumbling upon her Flickr stream, and have been in awe ever since. She is in every way a top notch conceptual photographer and I hope you find within her work, what I have found - A 'Wonderland'.

And so we begin the spotlight. ;)

The Artist...

Q: What is your full name?
Kirsty Mitchell

Q: Where in the world area you located?
UK just outside London

Q: Self Taught or Schooled?
Basically self-taught, but I did study photography for two years at the age of 18 (pre-digital, a long time ago!!). I don’t consider that experience to have any real effect on the work I produce now.

Q: What made you want to be a photographer & artist?
I’ve always been involved with art in one way or another so I don’t really remember it as a conscious decision that I made. It’s more about having a need to express myself, to create beautiful things, to vent emotions and create a place to live out my dreams. I’m 33 and have been studying art and fashion, or working in the creative industries since I was 16, so its just feels like a very natural part of my life really. I suppose if I had to pin point the catalyst for me suddenly throwing myself into photography as hard as I did, it was sadly the death of my mother – photography became my therapy when I couldn’t talk to anybody about how I felt.


Selected Works By The Artist - From...



Q: How would you best describe both your vision and style as a Photographer & Artist?

I would say my work is heavily about storytelling. Creating beautiful strange worlds, using the natural landscapes we so often take for granted, and then boosting them into a sometimes surreal dimensions using extreme fashion styling and props. I work more as an artist than a photographer and am responsible for the entire finished image. This means I design and make all the clothes, or source vintage pieces and style them with various random accessories I have either made, or collected over the years. I research all my the locations, visit vintage fairs and work with my wonderful make – up artist Elbie van Eeden to create the props, and design the hair and make-up. Each picture is a great deal of work and it can take a few weeks to over a month to prepare for a shoot. I want to create images that people can lose themselves in…. that evoke what it was like to believe in the stories you were read as a child… and most of all to have a sense of wonder at just how incredible our natural surroundings can really be.

Q: Who are you behind the lens? What do you like to do in your off time besides being an artist?

Well photography is my ‘off-time’, I work as a fashion designer during the day, although the balance of that is becoming increasingly difficult. To be honest I work so relentlessly on my pictures that there isn’t exactly any time left for anything else! My favourite thing to do is to loose myself in the landscapes where I live. Every picture in the Wonderland series and the ‘My angel’ set were shot within a few miles radius from my house. I am so grateful to be surrounded by such wonderful forests and countryside, I love to ride my bike or just walk until my legs give up. That, and art exhibitions, and junk fairs…. Its all related really… my pictures are a mish-mash of everything things I am fascinated by, fashion, art, landscapes, crazy old junk, stories, movies, emotions.. all squashed together!

Q: What gear do you work with & What piece of equipment could you not live without?

I am very lucky to own a Canon 5D Mark 2, a very special gift my father insisted on giving to me when my mother passed away…. He said I should see it as her last present to me.

I shoot using 3 fixed lenses. A 50mm, 85mm and a 28mm, and obviously all the essentials, tripod, reflector etc . I don’t own any lighting equipment at all, natural light is something that is very important to me, and I can’t imagine ever working in a studio with flashes. I’m sure the day will come when I need to learn about that, but a large part of my photography is about the adventures we go on to find the locations and the extremes of weather we often experience doing it.


Selected Works From...



Q: In your career, what has been your single greatest memory or favorite moment thus far? (i.e.: award, publication, comment, shoot, etc)

Well for photography I guess it would be being having a 24 full-page editorial of ‘Wonderland’ in the LA magazine Cliché. That was so precious to me and Elbie because we physically created the whole project out of nothing. We had no budget and spent our every waking hour outside of work creating the clothes, the props, and hairpieces. Neither of us planned for the project to become as big and difficult as it has, or find such a wonderful friendship through it either. So it was like someone recognizing all our hard work, and its something both of us really genuinely care about so much.

Regarding fashion, I would say working with the designer Alexander Mc queen, who in my opinion will never be replaced. The man was a genius, and has left a huge hole in the fashion world; it’s a terrible loss.

Q: In contrast, what has been your biggest lesson or revelation?

I think one of the hardest things; or rather ‘issues’ I have had with photography is the notion of self-portraiture. It is something that I struggled with a great deal with in the days before I got enough confidence to finally approach models, and is something that I think many people can judge you on. I was permanently worried people would see me as a girl who like taking photos of herself, when actually at times I found it quite distressing – working in the fashion industry can seriously warp your ideas of how you should look. And so having to practice your ideas on yourself can lay you bare to all sorts of criticism on other people’s parts. I don’t have a very thick skin, and sometimes I was very hurt by how people misunderstood that.

Q: What is your favorite piece you've ever taken?

This is almost impossible to answer, but I have 2 that spring to mind can I say that?

Emotionally the first is of my best friend Sharon Simmonds, who was 8 months pregnant when I shot her standing in the middle of the road at dawn last summer. It is a photo of sheer and utter abandon and happiness and every time I look at it I remember how incredible that morning was. In one year she had lost her first baby, and I had lost my mother, and after a dangerous 7th month in her pregnancy she had finally made it through. It felt like a new beginning, like the start of something better for both of us, and image to me was just perfect, natural and so, so true. Ill never forget that moment… I’m so thrilled I have it captured forever...

(Favorite Photo...)


Artistically – that is really difficult because I have 4 I absolutely love…. But for just physically creating the reality of what was in my head, I would say the roots picture from the Wonderland series. (number 7) It is probably the most magical picture I have ever taken, and I am so proud of it because we created it all for real and nothing was cheated in Photoshop. We painted the tree, I made the entire outfit, and Elbie had spent hours creating the hair. It was real team effort and enormous fun, and once again is a picture I will never forget.

Q: Who are your greatest artistic inspirations?

Tim Walker, Alexander McQueen, Tim Burton, The Pre raphaelite brotherhood, The story of the Cottingley fairies, and the album 'The golden morning breaks' by Colleen.

Q: Do you have any advice for those who are inspired by you

and your work that are just starting out?

Don’t spend a fortune on expensive camera equipment. Start with a point and shoot, and take photos every single day, no matter how little or unimportant others may see them as. Understand what you love, and find the elements of photography that switch you on – whether its street photography, creating your own sets, portraiture, or landscape. Experiment as much as possible, and embrace your passion. Grow with your ideas and skills, invest in a camera that fits you…… spending a fortune on your kit does not make you a better photographer… invest in you ‘eye’. Travel, meet people, be brave and do the things that scare you the most. It took me a long time to have the confidence to approach others to work with, and now I realize it was the best thing I ever did…


And that is a wrap for this Artist Spotlight!

You can see more of Kirsty's work & world by visiting her:

*Flickr Stream


***Definitely give her blog a look as it has a very in depth, behind the scenes look of what this type of storytelling & conceptual photography takes to execute. It's very eye opening and quite a wonderful read***


As for me and my lot, I hope you've enjoyed this feature. She's a huge favorite of mine, since conceptual photography is my heartbeat and has been since I began photographing 3 & 1/2 years ago. ;)

I have some huge and amazing news that I will announce soon, regarding a project I've just begun that is unlike anything anyone has ever seen before in front of the lens. That's a promise, and it's become my soul focus from now until Summer's end.

I cannot wait to elaborate on this...

But for now, I've got to get to a shoot relating to that news. ;)

Best Always-

Ash | Bottle Bell x

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Anonymous said...

Wow, what an amazing artist. Truly amazing!

Anonymous said...

Holy goodness!!! I see that everyone is commenting over on your facebook wall, so I'll buck the system. Amazing & inspiring. I always look forward to these in my email (subscribe)

Kari Anne

martha schuster said...

kirsty mitchell is one of my ultimate favorites and a huge inspiration to me. i concur with you ash, about conceptual photography being my heartbeat - it's what frees me - it's been a slower road for me to express all that goes on in my own head, but i'm so inspired to move forward when i read about kirsty's work, your work and several others that keep my path in perspective. thank you for sharing this interview with kirsty. xo

Anonymous said...

I've seen the wonderland images around for a while and they are truly inspiring! Thanks for this spotlight blog, was great to read. Also makes me excited that I'm working with Elbie soon, yay :)

Anonymous said...

she's geeewwwd.

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