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  • Writer's pictureKara Oakes

Different Angles: Billie From Attitude Studios

Billie is a photographer with Attitude Studios in Brisbane and has helped thousands of little stars start their journey in the entertainment industry. Billie’s creative flair and fun style perfectly captures even the tiniest talent.

Billie chatted to us about what got her interested in photography, her style and what it’s like running one of southeast Queensland’s busiest children’s photography studios.

What exactly sparked your interest in photography?

My mum regularly took photos of us as kids with her Kodak camera. So from a young age, I was exposed to photography and enjoyed looking through our photo albums and reliving the memories. We occasionally had ‘slide nights’, which was like being transported to another time. We had a giant projector screen which, to me, was like a portal to another dimension.

Living in a country town during the 70s, there were no cinemas, and rarely did we go to the drive-in theatre, so these home “slide nights’ were such a treat. By eight, I asked mum for a camera and started my journey on a Kodak Instamatic, which used 126-size film.

What is it about Attitude Studios that align with you and your work?

As a commercially trained photographer, my style has a strong advertising feel, which perfectly fits the requirements of Attitude Studios. We shoot as though we were working on an advertising campaign, emphasising the physical attributes of our models to sell fashion or fashion-related services. In saying that, we still what to capture kids’ individual personalities during the shoots, but it is not the primary purpose of the session.

Can you explain the difference between model photography and portrait photography?

What is the purpose of each one?

Model photography is dedicated to displaying fashion products and services with the intent of selling. Images are used in advertising materials such as magazines, catalogues, billboards, TV commercials etc.

Portrait photography is about capturing the personality and essence of the subject and where storytelling skills become the focus. This style of photography requires very different skills.

What are some stereotypes about child modelling that Attitude Studios works to eliminate?

Children do not need to be beautiful/handsome, tall/thin or have extensive experience in particular skills. However, kids need to have the interest and temperament to be models, be comfortable meeting new people, and enjoy being photographed.

Can you outline a typical day at Attitude Studios in your role?

When I first arrive at the studio, I turn on the studio lights (to warm them up) and ensure they are all working. Get my camera and lenses sorted and ensure that the triggers are working. I always check my SD cards and that my camera batteries are fully charged. Next, I check through the run sheet to get a feel of what the day may bring, e.g. lots of babies, various ages, updates or mostly older kids. Once the shooting starts, it is generally full-on and is physically and mentally demanding. Throughout a single day, I can be up and down on the floor 150-200 times. I am constantly trying to engage with children, from babies to teens and help them feel comfortable. I am also thinking of what poses suit this person, what style of shooting suits their personality, what backgrounds work with their outfits and the list goes on. I try to incorporate props into the shoot, making the experience more enjoyable. Then there are the times that toddlers will not co-operate. So the stress of trying to get their profile shots is quite intense, all the while making the experience less stressful for the child and parents. Parents are often not fully prepared for their shoot, so I need to explain the procedures. By the end of the day, I collapse while giving the studio a tidy-up and checking my camera gear and batteries to prepare for the next day’s shoot. Overall, a typical day is demanding but rewarding, as most days, I meet at least one fantastic kid/baby who makes my day. The work also keeps my photography skills sharp, and I am always learning new techniques to use in the studio.

Can you elaborate on what the postproduction process involves?

My post-production in my business is labour intensive and requires lots of skill (which I have only gained through a lot of error). Each image can take up to 2 hours to edit, but it is so much fun. It’s like creating a movie poster.

How would you describe your personal photography style?

Very commercial looking. This means highly polished, colourful, well-composed and very meticulous with lighting and exposures. This not only comes from my very neat and tidy personality trait but also from my university training. As a result, I am often told: You are a very ‘Clean shooter’…. you should see my house!

What has been your favourite project/ photograph so far, and why?

I would have to say all my ‘cosplay portraiture’ I have completed over the past seven years. Unfortunately, I have not been able to do any of my work due to family commitments. However, I look forward to returning to this work again as I believe it’s what I am best at. Well, that’s what I’ve been told.

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