top of page

Graduate Interviews

Emily Woodley - FMP "Time Stood Still"

Level 6 - BA (Hons) Fashion Photography

Time is the most precious gift in the world. Whether it is wanting more time with your loved ones or a moment to last longer, we are always looking for more time.

Sometimes we wish the days away looking forward to an occasion and we may miss the beauty in the simplicity of everyday, our routines and daily tasks.

This book is about capturing the little moments.

After completing her 3rd and final year at Solent University, Emily Woodley was keen to talk to us about her final major project about documenting the simple moments in life with her camera. She hopes to showcase Fashion Photography in a different light.
Interview by Natasha Simmons

Throughout Uni, as a Fashion Photography student, your style and perspective must have changed a lot?

Yes, I think in ways my style and perspective did change but in other ways it stayed the same. I think my way of looking at things such as campaigns and advertisements changed as I gained a better understanding as to why brands use certain techniques etc but also my perspective as to how I look at the world around me changed. I started to have more of an understanding about why photographers, brands or fashion designers made certain choices and what made their work unique, and it has been very interesting.

What is it about street photography that you find so intriguing?

I love the fast pace of street photography. You don’t see the same person every time you go out, you get such a variety of models and fashion. I sometimes find studio photography restrictive, but street photography allows you to change backgrounds and faces constantly, it’s different every time which makes it so special.

Although you find the constant variety of faces and locations in street photography perhaps refreshing, are there any challenges of linking all these ideas together?

It is definitely challenging as there were times when I felt like I just had a lot of random images, and I wasn’t sure what to do with them. However, I had researched Robert Frank’s work and how he had used this technique called a skeleton structure where he found a theme or location and repeated it throughout the book to form a constant and this is what really helped tie my work together. I had different structures in my book such as the clocks, repetition of the train station narrative, the farmers market and then nature imagery as well which really helped my images link and make sense with one another. I think the challenge is working out what works best for the body of work to still make sense.

What is your photography process like? Do you have a detailed plan of everything or do you ‘go with the flow’?

Another thing I love about street photography is that you can have that go with the flow attitude. This project was so exciting because it gave me the opportunity to just wander round with my camera and see what I found which I found really exciting. Normally, I would have more of a plan, but I wanted a much more relaxed approach to this project as I knew that I would know what I was looking for once I saw it.

Was it easy to create the idea behind your FMP or was it a tough decision?

I found it really hard to create the idea! I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to come up with something special and important for my FMP which really held me back and limited me. I knew I wanted to shoot on film and had started to move away from fashion related photography so struggled to find something that I thought would fit. I spent a lot of time outside wandering around to try find inspiration and after a lot of help from my peers and teachers, all my smaller ideas started to fit into place and form into what is now my FMP. Letting go of the pressure was a massive but necessary step.

Did you have any challenges during your final year which caused your FMP to become more difficult? And how did you overcome these?

I was fortunate enough to not have too many issues during my final year but one main one was having to change a location I was planning to use in January. I had planned to use a specific location throughout my FMP proposal and then when it came to starting to shoot in January, this was no longer possible, and I had to come up with something else. It wasn’t the end of the world, but I hadn’t anticipated it, so I think under all the final term stress it felt a lot more serious than it was. Thankfully, I was able to think of something else and I am really happy with how it turned out in the end.

Are you happy with the final result of your FMP?

I am really happy with the final result of my FMP! I think after anticipating creating this project for the whole three years at uni, I was worried it wouldn’t be everything I hoped but I loved it. I knew I wanted to create a hardback book and I had decided to make it by hand which was really scary as I didn’t want it to look unprofessional, but I practiced, and it came out exactly how I had hoped.

The idea of time and losing time is a subject that is felt by everyone but rarely talked about, do you hope your project will open up these conversations?

I really hope so! I think people tend to not want to talk about it as it can sometimes be sad, but I think, especially in the case of students leaving uni, we are all sad so why can’t we talk about it to help each other? I love when the sadness turns into reminiscing, and it becomes a happy conversation and that tends to happen if you open up about these things. I really hope one thing people take from my work is that I just wandered around with my camera. I didn’t stage any of the images in the book they really were just happening and some of them are such lovely little moments to capture. I think if we look at it more as enjoying every second instead of worrying about how fast it’s all going it would be a lot easier and have a much nicer take.

Were there any artists/designers/photographers who inspired this project?

Two main photographers that inspired me were Robert Frank and Paul Graham. Very contrasting in their time periods but both very fascinating artists. Robert Frank gave me a lot of guidance on how to best structure my book after looking at his book The Americans. Paul Graham helped me lay out the images in my book in an order that made the most sense. He taught me about how the facing pages can tell a story and I loved how the book would document time passing not only during the day but over the years to come. I felt it was important to research a real variety of artists and tie them all into my work to create the strongest project possible.

You shot on 35mm film for your final images, did you come to this decision through experimentation, if so, what else did you try? What was it about the film that you liked so much?

I knew I wanted to shoot on film as my grandad had given me his film camera and I had loved experimenting with it, and I loved the look of the images shot on it. I experimented in my FMP proposal with using medium format film as well as 35mm however, I wasn’t as confident with the camera and felt shyer taking it out in public, with my own camera I was more comfortable and grew a lot more confident over the project at shooting my images. I loved the warm and familiar feeling to the film images and knew from researching other artists such as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore that that’s how I wanted my book to feel to others.

What do you hope will come from this project in the future?

I hope that it will be fascinating to look back on the project in years to come, to see the change in fashion and lifestyle and how things have adapted. I think that is one of the most interesting things about looking at older photographs, seeing how people have changed and clothes have changed. I hope to always feel pride towards this project as it was the perfect end to my university journey.

Have you learnt anything from your final year of Uni that you think will help you in the industry?

I think the main thing that I have learnt is to have more patience with myself and that I am more capable than I thought. I think having put a lot of pressure on myself to fit into a certain box as a ‘fashion photographer’ was limiting as I was trying to be something I wasn’t, and I was creating work I didn’t like. I think this will help me in the industry as I don’t need to try pretend to be someone I am not as my work is good enough the way it is, and this is what I would want to show. The patience I have learnt will help me as there are so many things I still need to learn and am excited to learn but things will take time. I have also learnt to be excited about after uni and go into the industry with an open mind and open arms.


Do you have any advice to students about to start their final year and FMPs?

My biggest piece of advice to students about to start their final year and FMPs is to enjoy every second as it goes so fast! Have fun with the project as it is what you will want to lead with in conversations and going into the industry so don’t try make it something that feels forced or doesn’t really represent you. Don’t be afraid to change your style of work in the final year either, I was so worried going into the year that I had come too far and didn’t know what to do about it, but it isn’t too late. It is such an exciting and scary time but communicate every step of the way with your teachers and peers because they are the most honest and helpful and know you so well. I would love to do it all again so make the most of it.

bottom of page