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Commercial Photography alumnus on life after university

BA (Hons) Commercial Photography Alumni / Graduate Course news / Industry News

James Stopforth is a BA (Hons) Commercial Photography alumnus, who graduated from The Arts Institute at Bournemouth (AUB) in 2009.

We caught up with him to find out more about life after university, which has included shooting with iconic British fashion photographers – and the royal family.

Can you tell us about shooting with the royal family? 

I do a lot of work assisting British fashion photographer, Nick Knight. I’ve worked with him for the past five years. 

Nick recently asked me to assist him with a secret project, which turned out to be the royal portrait. It was part of the 90th birthday celebrations. We were welcomed into the Queen’s private quarters of Windsor castle to set up.

They could not have been friendlier and more welcoming, but the pressure was on as the entire royal family were waiting. It was a five minute shoot…that Nick managed in three minutes! That’s the precision of a royal schedule and that’s where experience counts.

Our team has all worked together lots so it’s a case of everyone knowing what to do at the right time and working around whatever happens.

Nick is a truly talented artist who doesn’t rest until he has got the very best out of everyone he works with.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working with Chinese luxury womenswear designer Fei Feng at the moment on her brand, Fei Fei Cicada. I shot her latest couture collection at the V&A during London Fashion Week this year.

I recently built a lot of props ready for an art series with her, which I plan to shoot in February next year when she’s back from China.

What have the highlights of your career been so far? 

At university, I began using my practical skills to build sets with a designer called Shona Heath. In my final year at the Arts Institute I began working with fashion photographer Tim Walker and have remained a freelance member of his team since.

The role has mainly shifted towards lighting as the productions have got larger and larger.

I’ve just finished shooting two lookbooks for Tom Ford. I got the job based on my work and it was definitely a highlight.

Most of the teams I work with are like a family. This is something that I find very special in a job oversaturated with people doing similar roles. Creating genuine relationships is really important to me. 

Assisting has been great for me and I still get called in to help a few people I’m loyal to, as and when I’m required. I find I have much more of a balance between assisting and shooting my own work now though.

I really believe in all the ideas and plans I have, it’s just a matter of bringing it to life and funding it. I’m hoping that 2017 will bring many more projects.

How did you find your time at the Arts Institute? 

University feels like a while back now! I had a great time; it was great to find a direction and I’ve continued in the same route since. It was a matter of having time and working out that you have to be who you are and choose projects that excite you. 

You can follow James on Instagram here: @stopforthstudio.

You can find out more about our BA (Hons) Commercial Photography course here.