A photograph can capture a special moment, tell a story, bring a product to life or inspire someone on so many different levels.
Photography has always been an core ingredient and love in my life. From my days with film in London, over 10 years ago, when I photographed indie band’s record covers and model’s portfolios, to today where I try to curate the Hills & West story through images online and across social media.
It can be challenging when you have your own vision to find partners to work with who have a similar aesthetic and whom you feel comfortable with in front of the camera.
I had been scouring online to find inspiration and a photographer whom I thought really brought out the best in their subjects. Then I came across Prue Aja Photography. With over a decade of International fashion, photography and business management, she was working with some innovative movers and shakers and so effectively brought their vision and stories to life. I contacted her, we got on like a house on fire and when I did my usual due diligence, anyone who had worked with her could only sing praise.
She sent me a brief, I gave her an outline of what I was looking for, the type of lifestyle and product shots I was aiming to cover and we were off.
I was also working with Deer Ruby, a gorgeous Australian designed jewellery label, and we partnered together to do the shoot to creatively inspire each other and have some fun.
I wanted to share Prue’s story, her loves, and inspirations and how she so magically does what she done.
Following is Prue, the lady behind the lens’s story.
“I’m a portrait and lifestyle photographer, obsessed with business, people and the ocean.”
Where did it all began…
I first became a photographer at the ripe old age of 2 when I picked up my parents Pentax point and shoot and decided I would one day shoot for national geographic. This began by capturing a clip-on koala on a houseplant (it was the 80’s).
Having a camera in tow my whole childhood when I finished school I became a fashion stylist working with some of the world’s most prominent photographers in Sydney, and from around the world, wrapping up my career at Vogue in London.
During my sabbatical I found clarity on what my life’s purpose was and became clear it was time to pick up the camera again. So I was lucky enough to get into RMIT where I gained technical knowledge, which then allowed my creativity come to life through the lens.
I have had the opportunity to work with very influential and interesting people, but the ones who inspire me the most are people who are authentically living their life on purpose and made sacrifices to do what they do today.
“People who are authentically living their life on purpose.”
Advice to anyone wanting to follow their dreams and start their own business – Have clarity, in what you want to do, don’t worry about the how, that will come but firstly visualize what your dream day would look like. And I’m not talking about drinking cocktails on the beach, working for yourself has rewards much higher that that but also comes with sacrifice and belief in yourself and the universe.
Stay true to yourself and make sure you 100% believe in what you do, that you want to live and breathe every second of it.
“For me it is a complete obsession.”
My influences would have to be powerful women truly making a difference in this world, in the lives of others or the environment for a greater good. Creatively I know what I like and what I want to achieve with my photography and that is to create powerful eye-catching imagery that captivates an audience through the character of the sitter or model.
I believe every woman deserves to have an incredibly empowered portrait of themselves that you would see on the front cover of a magazine – this is my goal. To bring out their inner strength and beauty. I appreciate Annie Leibovitz and Mark Seliger for their portrait work; it is classic, timeless, pure and raw.
Getting to know your subject.
To get the most out of my subjects I get to know them as much as possible before the day or while they’re getting their hair and makeup done – this is so I can gauge their personality, strengths and weaknesses, business and life goals, so I can create imagery that encapsulates their story. It also gives them an opportunity to meet me breaking down the barriers so on set they feel completely comfortable and at ease. I truly believe the phrase “a portrait is an expression of the relationship between the sitter and photographer”, so I create these relationships in the process.
“A portrait is an expression of the relationship between the sitter and photographer.”
Originally I wanted to be an architectural photographer after nearly a decade in the fashion industry, but I quickly came to realize fashion is in my blood, I thrive from meeting new people, and buildings weren’t quite cutting it for me. But I am inspired by bold structural geometric architecture and patterns in nature, which I like to mix into my portrait and fashion work. Dream locations to shoot at would be a salt lake, Iceland, Joshua Tree National Park.
Goals for the next financial year involve scaling to an agency so I can take on other photographers who specialize in areas such as food, interiors, and product to service sme’s and start-ups. I want to make high quality photography and video accessible for everyone while getting talented photographer’s out there who don’t quite have the marketing and business skills. While growing my personal brand of photography in stylish editorial portraits for entrepreneurs and industry leaders, and coaching Mum’s in business, and photographers.
“I want to make high quality photography and video accessible for everyone.”
a. Get my motorbike license (booked in for two weeks time)
b. Work with an organization that empowers young women through education in low socio economic regions. I believe if more women had access to education there would be more women in power and the world would be a different place.
c. Go travelling for a month with my 6-year-old daughter
d. Have my work published on the cover of BRW, Time, Renegade Collective, Mindfood and or Sunday Life.
e. Own a beach house to escape to, to re-invigorate myself on a regular basis.
Favourite photographers would be Sue Bryce she is a powerful businesswoman and very talented and successful photographer.
It is actually hard for me to answer this question, as it has always been the same even when I was at uni. I don’t really follow other photographers, influencers, and bloggers that much. Mainly because I don’t want to become influenced by other people’s style and I know what I like and it’s little pieces from everything in my daily life, to my travels and life experiences.
“It’s little pieces from everything in my daily life, to my travels and life experiences”.
What I can’t live without;
a. A navy blue trench coat I take everywhere with me and serves all weather
b. Classic black ankle boots – at the moment I’m loving a pair from Country road which haven’t been removed from my feet since the purchase
c. Statement earrings – since my wardrobe has become rather black from getting older, living in Melbourne, and being a photographer, I express my style through accessories such as a fabulous pair of earrings.
d. Jeans Jeans Jeans! I always have a black, dark blue, and grey pair of jeans and the past few years all from Nobody denim firstly because they’re made here in Melbourne, and they never ever stretch or fade I can’t rave highly enough about them.
e. Cats eye sunglasses – my eyes are my best assets so they need to be protected.
Your fav Hills & West piece…
Would have to be the Morgan mini convertible clutch – simple and classic that can go with any look, but the edge it has with the grey cowhide.
Hills & West has also been lucky enough to collaborate with dog&boy’s lovely designer scarves in a shoot showcasing the versatility of the gorgeous winter accessory. See all the gorgeous pics in piece ‘Imagination comes from the heart: dog&boy musings’.
Prue is beautifully telling the stories of many creative and business people alike, through photo and videography. If you want to build your story visually then make sure to contact Prue and chat through your needs. She is an absolute pleasure to work with and I look forward to working with her again soon.