[F]lora Maclean’s images leave you wondering what happened before and after. Beautifully spontaneous, the London based photographer approaches still life, documentary and portraiture with a cinematic feel and a graphical eye. Each image resonates with emotion, intrigue and intimacy. There is untold power in what is left unsaid.
Leaving behind a career as a menswear designer to pursue her passion, Flora has used her photography to draw attention to important subjects. From a landmark series illustrating the stories of survivors of domestic abuse, to smashing gender stereotypes in ‘Every Player Counts’, a celebration of women’s football in the UK, she has championed strong women. We caught up with her to talk about creating her distinctive visuals.
Hi Flora, how would you describe the aesthetic you have developed?
Off-beat, graphic, tactile, intimate, strong. These are actually words other people have used but I like them. I would like to say a little humorous also!
Who are some of the photographers you're inspired by?
I prefer to look beyond photography for inspiration, mostly painting, sculpture and film inform my work. I try to replicate the way something has made me feel. Looking at other photographers work can be really helpful but it’s important to break away a bit. I do take inspiration from photographer’s accomplishments and ideas or work ethic. Things you can look at and learn from, stuff that’s interesting and spurs you on.
Does your previous career in menswear influence your approach to your images in any way?
I don’t think so. I think I do approach both in a similar way though. I like texture and colour and focus on that a lot, I feel like I am designing with photography too so it’s not too different. It has helped being on the inside of a design company, knowing how it works from the client’s side is useful.
Your photographs show the female body in a different way - not objectified, not sexualised - was this something important to you?
Yes it is important. I am never looking to create something that’s specifically gendered. The people I photograph happen to be women but that doesn’t define the image. I do believe that the more photos of women and non binary people taken by women and non binary people out there, sexualised or not, the better!
There is a graphic and minimal quality to your work - how do you approach the composition?
Usually though movement. If there are people involved I try to create something naturally through their own personality and actions. Otherwise I guess I’m not looking for anything that makes sense in real life, i’m looking at shapes and colour and texture and if those things work then you have a good image.
The distinctive style that your work has - is it something you plan meticulously, or has evolved naturally?
A bit of both, you have to plan to improve right? I want my images to look sort of like accidents and that takes planning.
Where do you go when you're in need of inspiration?
I like going to talks, even if they don’t relate to your field. Its inspiring listening to other people talk passionately about their work.