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Photography and fashion with Pandora’s Thoughts

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Pandora’s Thoughts are a studio specialising in fashion and portrait photography founded by two friends Jordanna Andrews and Melissa Cumberland. The pair work primarily in editorial and advertising fashion photography, and have been featured in magazines and online in Vogue Italia’s Photo Vogue section.

An interview with Pandora’s Thoughts recently featured in the book ‘Style and Creativity in Fashion’. FACTORY311 chatted with Jordanna and Melissa to discover more about the thought’s of Pandora’s Thoughts.

Q. Why did you decide to set-up Pandora’s Thoughts in 2009?
We were looking to find a creative outlet during a time when we were both in unsuitable careers and had a passion for photography. We worked together on London College of Fashion’s High Street Fashion Photographer competition and won. Everything about it just really clicked into place, the imagery, the combined creative vision and of course how much fun we had working together. From there Pandora’s Thoughts was born, it just seemed like the natural thing to do.

Q. How do work together as a team?
We work in a really symbiotic way. With a very similar aesthetic to each other, but a different style it allows us a certain depth and variation to what we produce. It’s motivating to work beside someone who is a close friend who also shares your creative vision. We bounce off of each other’s ideas, help each other and are always there to give each other a boost. And then of course go and have a glass of wine at the end of a successful day!

Q. And how did you go about attracting clients?
Everything has spiralled from hard work, a little advertising and good word of mouth.
Initially, London Fashion Week was a key stepping stone for us. It gave us that platform of presenting our catwalk images to designers; up against other photographers and showing them that we had something different to offer in comparison what is standard catwalk photography.

A lot of them have had great reactions to our work. Fashion designer Paul Costelloe daughter wrote to us after last season’s show saying that we “just get it” – we were ecstatic. This was a great start to generating interest in our fashion look book and editorial photography with a view to working with them off the runway.

Q. Is working as a small team an advantage?
Definitely. On occasion it makes for more work, but to be involved in so many stages of the process, we have learnt so much. We have no doubt this won’t always be the case, so we’re just enjoying it while we can. Also, with us being such good friends, it always makes for a great time on shoots. We always laugh with everyone, and know half of their life stories by the end of the day, and I think the relaxed atmosphere we give off with how we are with each other puts people at ease coming on set. That is such a great thing to have, because the results are always a million times better and you get more enjoyment out of your job that way, which is ultimately the point.

Q. What do you think Pandora’s Thoughts offers that other’s might not be able to?
The aesthetic we have comes from a combined vision of us both, still a pretty unique thing which not many people are familiar with yet. We love to tell stories in our images and that becomes an even more complex thing when the story is being created out of two minds; we each might have a different angle or see something the other doesn’t in the next shot.

It is interesting as well because I (Melissa) shoot with a more commercial flare, and Jordanna shoots with a more editorial style, and so we push each other and learn from each other, it really is an invaluable dynamic.

It still confuses people sometimes though Despite these days having the likes of Mert + Marcus and Inez van Lamsweerde et Vinoodh Matadin as major photographers in the fashion industry, you still get the odd day of someone turning up to a shoot and saying “Wait… I don’t get it… you both take the pictures?”

Q. With London Fashion Week coming up, how do you ensure you can get access to the big shows?
It really is down to experience and the quality of your work. We blog and photograph every show we attend, and as avid creative writers, try to write a decent amount to accompany the photography. It might be a bit time consuming, but given the amount of painstaking effort that has goes into creating the collection, it is really the least we can do.

The more you do and the better your work is, things will naturally progress and the bigger the shows you end up shooting. Some of our highlights from last season were Nicole Farhi and Topman, which seems light years away from when we first started.

Q. What wider role do you think fashion bloggers have on the fashion industry?
They do have a very big influence, as they serve as a mass voice with millions of tastes, styles and perspectives. They are an immediate feedback mechanism to the industry and have a very strong voice in these times.

Q. What advice do you have to any budding fashion and portrait photographers ?
Anything is possible. Everything is achievable. You will get as much out of it as you put in, so jump in with both feet and never turn any opportunity down or doubt your abilities.

And the best advice, which I am still being given by my dad – a photographer himself – to this day: “The worst anyone can say to you is no, so never be afraid to ask.”

Q. Finally, where do you see Pandora’s Thoughts in the next few years?
Conquering the world. Absolutely.

See more of Pandora’s Thoughts here.

Follow Pandora’s Thoughts on Twitter here.

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