Catherine Losing is a still-life photographer and director based in London. Her work takes inspiration from the everyday and makes it extraordinary with a unique style and subtle humour. Catherine began working in still-life photography and has now established herself as one of the most sought after new directors in London. Her colourful, contemporary, concept-led work has featured in exhibitions across Europe and the US and attracted a host of editorial and commercial clients across stills and film.
Give us a bit of a background on your career.
I’m a photographer and director, originally from The Isle of Axholme but now based in London. I studied photography from the age of 16 at John Leggett College and after I graduated from Nottingham Trent University I moved down here to assist photographers. I’ve been shooting my own work exclusively for about 5 years now.
Why photography / film?
Because I direct too and thought it sounded better than ‘moving image’. Ha.
What themes do you pursue?
I love still life and often use my work to think about how it has evolved from it’s beginnings in painting and art to today’s commercial photography. I also like looking at how women are portrayed in art and photography. But sometimes I just like photographing really fancy, colourful, expensive accessories and beauty products.
What other photographers / filmmakers have been inspirational to your work?
I watched way too much TV when I was younger. Fresh Prince, Saved by The Bell and MTV music videos by people like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry are wedged deep into my subconscious.
What motivates you to continue taking pictures and creating films?
I really enjoy it. I genuinely don’t know what else I would do for a living.
What are some of your favourite books on photography – what do you love about them?
Charlotte Cotton: The Photograph as Contemporary Art
I think I bought this book when studying A Level Photography. It really opened my eyes to photography as a conceptual art form. So much of photography courses seem to be dominated by documentary photography. It’s fairly concise, but Charlotte Cotton does a great job of drawing you into each artist’s approach. It’s the perfect book for getting a taster and then going on to look at more by that artist. It was where I first came across amazing people like Sophie Calle, Erwin Wurm and Elina Brotherus.
A.M. Hammacher: Barbara Hepworth
Hepworth is my ultimate, all time favourite artist. I enjoy visiting the galleries in St Ives and my dad lives near the Hepworth Wakefield. Every time I see her work in real life I’m sad that they can’t be touched, they appear so tactile and inviting. Her compositions are incredible – pieces like Nesting Stones look unbelievably satisfying. This book covers her whole life and you can see how her work evolved throughout her career through candid shots of her studios.
Martin Creed: What’s the Point Of It?
To me Creed’s work, particularly his painting and sculpture, has the same draw as Hepworth’s; something satisfyingly put-together, stacked or arranged. The best part about Creed’s work is that most of it’s made out of everyday objects but it’s equally, if not more interesting, than something made out of an expensive chunk of marble. I love his pieces that are collections of things – all the tapes, stripes made up of each width of brush in a multipack, a whole page of one felt tip colour. It has a real sense of something you’d want to do as a child, but your mum totally wouldn’t let you do. This book accompanied Creed’s amazing exhibition at the Hayward and I really like everything about it; the neon pink and grey cover, the different papers, the layout, and obviously the work.
When you’re shooting how much is planned and how much is instinctual?
It is almost 100% planned. Unless it is a test day with a set designer or food stylist and we’re just trying stuff out. For a proper shoot everything is sketched out, moodboarded and ready to go. I think it saves loads of time and stress on a shoot if you’re prepared and do the brainstorming beforehand.
How has social media played a role in your work?
I don’t know really. Social media has always been a part of my business. I like that it makes things loads more democratic and accessible than the photography/fashion/art world probably was 15 or 20 years ago. Coming from a rural area, when I was really young my only access to creative inspiration was TV and a small library. It’s so much more exciting now many more resources and contacts are accessible to pretty much everyone wherever they are.
What advice would you give yourself if you started in photography / film all over again?
I’m not sure I’d say anything. It’s going pretty well and wouldn’t want to ruin it ‘Back to the Future’ style!