WORDS RACHEL EDWARDS - PHOTOGRAPHY + STYLING SAMMY KING - HAIR + MAKEUP SWAN
London based photographer and director Sammy King has come a long way from the days of convincing childhood friends to star in ketchup-fuelled horrors. From shooting covers of ES magazine and working for brands such as Gucci and Stella McCartney, it’s little wonder that she was on singer Celeste's radar long before they worked together on the music video for her track 'Love is Back'.
It’s not just King’s drive to constantly create that has propelled her to the stage that she’s at in her career, but also her style. Growing up in California, King’s work encapsulates dreamy nostalgia and nods towards the old days of Hollywood glamour. A lot of her photography feels like it could be a still taken from a movie, something that makes the viewer feel like they're being transported into the scene, rather than looking at a set.
Her latest story, featuring models Caitlin Walsh and Keana Asgari, shows the models exploring a hidden cave on the outskirts of Paris. There is a sense of otherworldliness, of mystery; as though the women have discovered a portal into something new.
We had the chance to chat to King about her latest shoot, along with her inspirations and what we can look forward to in the future.
Rachel Edwards: We love your recent shoot. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it?
Sammy King: It was a super last minute shoot Caitlin, Keana and I did in Paris. We wanted to test shoot while we were all in town for fashion week in late Jan. I found this amazing location called ‘The temple of Love’ and underneath it was this magical cave. It was a surreal find… It definitely did not feel like we were in Paris. I’d love to go back there one day. I also wanted to include pieces from one of my favourite Paris based designers louise lyngh bjerregaard (https://www.louiselynghbjerregaard.net) so she loaned me some pieces which I think worked really well paired with some of my old fashioned corsets, laced leggings and tabis. They added a sprinkle of punk to the looks. Also, the full Louise looks which were shot in the 'Temple of Love' looked fab on the girls.
R.E: When did you first decide you wanted to work in photography and film?
S.K: I think I knew when I first started making music videos in middle school on my mini DV cam to the Spice Girls and Uffie. I was instantly hooked! I also made a few horror films back in the day. I recall making one at 10 called ‘The Day I Died’…. lets just say my friends who I’d get to act for me reeked of ketchup for days after. Lol
R.E: Was there a particular photographer that inspired you when you were younger?
S.K: I think I was a lot more into film than photography growing up. I just recently started getting into stills. Now, one of my main photography references is Guy Bourdin - I think he was an absolute genius.
R.E: What is one movie you think everyone should watch?
S.K: To Die For by Gus Van Sant or Best in Show by Christopher Guest
R.E: Is there a person (celebrity or otherwise) who you’d love to shoot?
S.K: John Waters! Or Dolly Parton of course!
R.E: And is there anything you would change in the industry?
S.K: This is tough, I think off the top of my head I would say the amount of content that’s being created is put out so quickly! It makes it difficult to resonate and sit with the work because things are constantly being produced. It also makes it difficult to have a real message behind the work itself. With content being pushed out so quickly it becomes forgotten and loses it’s meaning.
R.E: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
S.K: TAKE RISKS!!!
R.E: Often when freelancing, it's hard to strike a balance between work and outside life. How do you find it? Do you have any tips?
S.K: I often find it quite hard to be honest. I think the only reason I manage with the quick deadlines is that I am addicted/obsessed with creating. So my advice is to never lose the passion even when you do the soul destroying jobs for extra cash, know that it’ll all be worth it when you can finally create your passions projects!
R.E: What are you working on at the moment?
S.K: I am currently not allowed to say, but it is a video… and we are shooting on 16mm so I am THRILLED!! Also, I have a cover coming out next wk! <3
R.E: And finally... What's your favourite F-word?
S.K: FICKLE !!
Models wear garments PHOTOGRAPHER'S OWN + pieces from LOUISE LYNGH BIERREGAARD