One Button Press, One Camera Shutter Click, and You Get This:
by Jemma Dodd | Olympus Magazine | Issue 59
Debbi Clark has had work featured in Vogue, Homme, and Tatler, photographed the likes of Kate Moss and Damian Lewis and set up her own charity. We speak to the woman who’s capable of it all…
When did you become interested in photography?
It was when I was studying fashion and design at St. Martin’s College when I fell in love with photography. I used to photograph landscapes, capturing patterns in trees, flowers, grass picturing shapes, shadows and formations in clouds. I became so obsessed with how fascinating it was playing with light that I wanted to learn the technical side to really bring my images to life. I then went on to LCP and studied photography and printing. My first camera was the Olympus PEN-F 35mm film camera, which I still love and use.
You’ve photographed the likes of Kate Moss, Paul Weller and Damian Lewis. How did your journey into photographing such big names begin?
As a photographer, I love taking portraits. I have been extremely fortunate to have photographed some of the most iconic people in the world, including Kate Moss, Paul Weller, Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory, which began when I founded Sir Hubert von Herkomer Arts Foundation, a charity that I am CEO of. The charity supports young people by inspiring them in the arts, giving them lifelong skills that they can develop their artistic passions through. I work with many models, actors and singers on commissions, and because I work with them as a professional photographer, I was able to approach many of my artists to ask if they would let me take their portrait and exhibit each year to fundraise for Sir HVH Arts Foundation, supporting my passion in the arts and passing it on to young people to encourage and nurture through the arts.
Of all the people you’ve photographed, what was your most memorable shoot?
I have many memories and stories as each time I take a portrait there is always something that happens to make that portrait so special. I do remember the time when Helen McCrory phoned me and said, “Damian is shaving off the tash, beard and sideburns today.” Being such a passionate advocate and patron of Sir HVH Arts Foundation, Helen McCrory managed to weave her magic, and off I went to take a portrait of Damian Lewis dressed in a blue denim shirt, with his amazing mop of flame colored hair, tash and sideburns. I remember thinking at the time that the ‘Brut 33’ 70’s style clashed with the blue denim, ginger hair and green glass as I stood above Damian shooting directly down from above – what a color contrast. We shot this image within a 30-minute window – as I rushed out to meet Damian at Swiss Cottage on the grass banks of the sports centre, the skies were clouding over and the rain was imminent. I had my Olympus PEN-F and 45mm lens attached and my LEDGO travel light held high above to fill in as daylight for the lack of light as the clouds were darkening up ready to let go. We managed to shoot two fantastic final images and Damian, Helen and I chose this featured photo as the firm favorite.