Tag Archives: the inspirations

The Inspirations: Ian Stuart

With a penchant for the opulent and dramatic, a style that makes him stand out from the bridal pack, Ian Stuart is a British bridal designer to be reckoned with. His statement style is unapologetic and one that makes people stop and pay attention. And pay attention I did, when an email landed in my inbox from the man himself, asking if I’d like to work with him to design a Rock n Roll Bride/Ian Stuart collaboration wedding dress. I kid you not! More on this soon, but for now…

Bourbon & Blue Bird

Hi Ian. It’s highly unlikely, but just in case some of my readers don’t know who you are can you introduce yourself to the masses?

I was always interested in art, travel, fashion and music. I started with an art foundation course and then moved into fashion. I graduated from University and did bridal wear for my final collection. I worked as a junior designer for various labels in London before completely changing my life and moving to New York for 10 years to continue my career. I moved back to the UK in 2000 and set up my own label in 2003.

Your dresses are extremely distinctive. What inspires you?

Music, theatre, movies, people watching, airports, everything!

The bridal market is very saturated. Is it hard for you to compete, especially when you are all at different price brackets?

There are lots of labels in the market without a real designer behind the label. There are lots of dresses available that have not been designed. Whilst price certainly needs to be taken into consideration, but so does quality, fit, construction and branding. That is the difference.

Verbier & Equador

I can imagine the fashion industry can be very bitchy and competitive. Have you ever had to deal with negative opinions or press and how, if at all, did you deal with it?

Yes, it can be quite bitchy and cliquey. However you have to listen to constructive criticism, whether its positive or negative.

You recently won a Wedding Ideas Award for best Mother of the Bride designer. Congrats! Is this an area of your business that you plan to expand? Can you tell us a little more about the collection and why you wanted to compliment your bridal line with a Mother of the Bride collection?

Thank you! It was the first time we won an award for our occasion wear. We originally introduced the collection as a response to lots of Mothers of our brides. 50 year olds of today dress very differently from 50 year olds from 20 years ago…

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The Inspirations: Jonas Peterson

The man himself

Jonas Peterson is a wedding photographer, originally from Sweden but now living in Brisbane Australia. I first became aware of his work back in 2009 when he exploded onto the wedding scene with a photographic style so daringly different and beautiful that people couldn’t help but stop and take notice.

Since then I’ve been lucky enough to feature his work on the pages of my blog again and again. However today I’m going one step further, peeling back the layers, peering behind that lens and talking to the man himself.

Hey Jonas, can you give us a little introduction to yourself – who you are, what you do, how you got into wedding photography and where you are in your career now?

I’m a wedding photographer based in Australia shooting a mix of international destination weddings and weddings around Australia. I left a long and successful career as a writer in advertising in late 2008 to shoot weddings, two years later I was named one of the top ten wedding photographers in the world by American Photo, the largest photography magazine in the world. It’s been a crazy journey in every way and I’m shaking my head on a daily basis. My life is amazing. Today I shoot about 50% of my work around the world, the rest all around Australia. Only 15% of my weddings are shot locally. I also teach workshops, the latest one was in Cape Town two weeks ago.

You used Flickr to share your images and talk to other wedding photographers (through the forum SWPB) a lot during the early part of your career. Do you feel this helped progress your career in any way and would you recommend people join forums/share their work in a similar fashion?

I still do. It’s a great way to connect with other photographers. Today’s world is so connected, we make virtual friends all the time and I’ve “used” that to my advantage. If we live in a world where word of mouth is everything, I need people to talk about me and my work. Common sense.

You must get a lot of emails from aspiring photographers wanting your help or advice. How do you deal with this and do you have time to respond?

Good question. I do get a lot of emails from other photographers and unfortunately I don’t have time to answer them all. These days I direct them to a site I have set up where I have answered over 3000 questions about my photography. You’ll find it here.

You hardly ever share photos of yourself (even your profile pictures you always have your head cut off!) Was this a conscious decision?

Yes and no. It started when I started writing a blog in 2004. I’ve used that image since the day I started blogging. I was writing anonymously and I found that people connected with what I had to say. We judge people as soon as we meet them and I realised that I wanted to connect with people BEFORE we met face to face. I don’t look like the Elephant Man or anything, it was just something I noticed.

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The Inspirations: Lara Jade

Photography Credit: Oscar May

I’ve admired Lara and her work for a few years now. I’m not only incredibly enthralled by her fashion photography and attitude to business (and a tough business at that!) but the fact that she found ‘fame’ so young (she started sharing her self portraits online when she was just 14!) and has achieved so much all before her 23rd birthday.

‘Woah’ indeed…

Photography Credit: Oscar May

Hey Lara, for those of my readers who might not have heard of you can you introduce yourself – who you are, what you do, your journey to where you are today?

Of course! I’m Lara Jade, a fashion and advertising photographer from England currently residing in New York City. Like many young photographers, I took an interest in photography at a very young age (fourteen, in fact) purely by realizing that every other artistic medium frustrated me! I found photography after researching other artistic communities online, and during my school exams I experimented with it for my final project and was instantly hooked! In the beginning it was for fun, I’d experiment with costumes and disguises, placing myself in front of the camera as different characters (a la Cindy Sherman!) which enabled me to hone my skills and build my confidence to work with models and bigger styling teams. 

You recently moved from England to NYC, why did you do this and do you feel the move has benefited your career? What does NYC offer that London doesn’t? do you think you’ll stay there forever?

Truthfully, I was at a point in my life where I needed a change of pace and NYC offered this. I decided on moving there after visiting for the first time in February 2010, and realized the rush of the city and new culture was what I needed to regain my inspiration in my personal and work life. After my second trip to NYC in the summer of 2010, I worked hard on the goal of moving there, and a year later I was there! I can’t say I’ll be here forever, but you can never say never! I enjoy being able to have a home base and travelling from it, and it’s great to be in a place where there are likeminded creatives and a pulsing art/photography community.

What is it about fashion photography that you love and why did you want to shoot fashion instead of any other type of photography?

When I first started photography, I was only interested in conceptualized fine-art pieces and self-portraiture – something that offered meaning and was visually impactful. However, later on in my career; after having a taste of the London scene, I realized that fashion photography could have this effect too – it wasn’t just about selling clothes, it was also about selling a meaning or lifestyle, and so I combined the two things together, and started shooting fashion stories.

To many, fashion photography will seem like the impossible dream to work in, do you have any advice for anyone that wants to pursue this path?

I am definitely not going to say it’s easy! You have to develop yourself a lot personally and visually as an artist and offer something that is instantly recognisable – style is everything, and everyone is looking for the next big thing. However, if you have a great style and no networking, you’re never going to be noticed. Fashion photographers have to have a great body of work in their portfolio, as well as great social networking skills to be able to market themselves, so this is why it’s vital to understand the photography AND fashion industry as a whole.

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The Inspirations: Kirsty Mitchell

Lavender Princess

I came across the work of Kirsty Mitchell via flickr a few years ago. It was her ‘Lavender Princess’ image (above) that I first saw and I was immediately hooked. I’d never seen anything like it and I was smitten…head over heels in love in fact! It’s actually hard for me to articulate how Kirsty’s work makes me feel but needless to say she transports me to a magical world with every image that I’m lucky enough to see.

If possible, Kirsty’s story is even more moving than her incredible images. Get ready to be inspired…

The Faraway Tree

Hi Kirsty, can you tell us your story – how you started in photography and a little bit about your journey from then till now?

I studied analog photography many years ago when I was 18 at art school, but this was before digital became mainstream. It was my first contact with the medium, and sadly I felt defeated and frustrated by my tutor’s focus on the technical processes rather than creative expression. I saw photography as an art form not a science, and so in the end I followed a career into fashion design instead. It was another 13 years until I picked up a camera again in the summer of 2007. I was in the process of recovering from 4 months of chronic insomnia brought on by posttraumatic stress. The drugs I had been prescribed, had numbed my senses to the point where I had pretty much lost all awareness of touch, temperature and interest in the lives of the people around me, I was a zombie. I was undergoing hypnotherapy and slowly things began to return, but my sensitivity came back at an almost heightened state. It’s hard to describe without it sounding like a cliché, but it was like I was seeing the world for the first time, and I had an overwhelming urge to record everything around me.

So I simply started with a little point and shoot I kept in my handbag, and just took as many pictures as I could on the way to work, on the train, the bus, wherever I was. It was a sudden and very emotional awakening, that I still can’t explain, but it was utterly addictive to me. It was shortly after this that my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor and I was thrown into the horrors of her treatment and decline. My camera became my escape and my only outlet for self-expression. As well as street photography, I began photographing myself, creating more and more elaborate pictures, to push the real world as far away as I possibly could.

Tragically my mother died in 2008, and that was the catalyst for beginning my project ‘Wonderland’ in her memory. It is such a complicated story it is impossible to explain everything in a short answer, but it is this work that 2.5 years later has gained a world wide following, and led me to leave my career in fashion to work as an artist.

The Queen’s Armarda

I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. Wonderland is such an amazing thing to dedicate in her memory. Can you tell us a little more about the overall artistic idea and direction for the series?

The project and its origins are extremely personal and emotional to me on levels that might not always be apparent to the casual viewer. The series is my tribute to the memory of my mother who as I already mentioned passed away in November 2008. She was my best friend; and died miles away from her family and friends in the UK, after moving to France for her retirement.  She was too ill to bring home, and so she had a tiny funeral that broke my heart. I remember walking away on that day wanting, and needing to do something that would let people know who she was, and how she had touched the lives of so many children. She had been an English teacher all her life, and spent years inspiring her students, and myself with her passion for literature and her captivating stories. She had read to me everyday until I was too old to admit it to my friends, and instilled a belief in beauty and wonder that has now become the root of my work. So I decided this was how I wanted her to be remembered, to create something that would celebrate her gift to others – magical worlds full of colour and endless possibility.

Six months after her passing I began work on the concept of creating a visual storybook without words, of unexplained beautiful strange characters, each within their own magical worlds. I never planned for the series to grow in the way it has, or to last over 2.5 years. It just evolved constantly, and seemed to capture the imagination of so many online, that it began to have its own following.  The support of so many kind people has spurred me on, and I am now entering into the final stages of the project. The final focus is the publish a book and create an exhibition of the entire series in her memory.

How many Wonderland shoots have you done so far and how do you come up with each idea?

There are over 54 pictures in the series that are currently public, with another 15 scenes to come, which I have already shot and am in the process of editing and uploading. I have lost count of how many actual shoots we have done, but I’m guessing it’s around 40. You see every single picture is more or less a whole shoot. I treat the images as individual artworks like paintings, so I don’t take endless pictures of the same thing. Each character has its own part to play in the series and won’t be repeated constantly, unless the image is completely different or re-shot on a different location. Sometimes it’s so hard to do this after months of work, to only choose a maximum of 2 pictures from a shoot, but I want everything to have a high impact, and not over saturate an idea.

With regards to the ideas that’s the easy bit, I have too many, and they are almost always the result of dreams and the broken fragments of the memories of my mother’s stories – the hard bit is making the idea once I have it!

The Fairycake Godmother

There is a real sense of the journey you have been on since 2008 on your blog. Are there other images that are too raw for public view?

Yes, I have since taken down some of the self-portraits I had on flickr during the final weeks of losing mum, simply because they were just too personal. At the time the pictures were my self-expression and although the Internet is obviously public, I somehow felt more able to bare my soul in that forum than talk to any of my friends about what I was going through. I needed a place to let rip, and I did … but now my life is different and I don’t want them seen anymore. Some pictures never made it out of my computer and I look at those sometimes and they break my heart, they are so sad.

I imagine that when some people first see the Wonderland images, they would assume that a large team was involved and there were masses of post-production for each one. However because it is just you and a very small team, do you think that you are able to keep a sense of intimacy despite the large sets? Is there a particular reason why you’ve kept the teams small, worked with mainly the same people and that you still choose to hand make everything yourself?

Wonderland is obviously deeply emotional for me, and I started it at a time when I was very ill with grief. My ‘team’ at the time was basically me, and a complete stranger Elbie Van Eeden who was a hair and make-up artist I had met online. Neither of us knew when we finally met in person what was about to happen to us, and what the project would become. Elbie became a sudden special friend to me through some of the worst months of my life – Wonderland was our baby and our escapism from jobs we were unhappy in and my grief. It was our playground, where we would run off to the woods at the weekends with our long suffering muse and model Katie Hardwick, and just made up our own magic.

As the project progressed I had no intention of changing Elbie for anyone else, we were in it together, and we grew as a team and as friends. Over the months lots of people wrote to me asking to be assistants, but I didn’t want a huge crowd on set. Usually the locations are quite private places in the woods, and I don’t want to draw attention to us, or disturb the wildlife. I also think you cant get that emotional connection with the model if you have a massive entourage. I want to be around people I trust, who respect the surroundings and understand the sentiment behind it all. I’m very protective over what I do and quite private in some ways (hence no twitter account!)

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The Inspirations: Kirsty Mitchell

I came across the work of Kirsty Mitchell via flickr a few years ago. It was her 'Lavender Princess' image (above) that I first saw and I was immediately hooked. I'd never seen anything like it and I was smitten...head over heels in love in fact! It's actually hard for me to articulate how Kirsty's work makes me feel but needless to say she transports me to a magical world with every image that I'm lucky enough to see. If possible, Kirsty's story is even more moving than her incredible images. Get ready to be inspired... Hi Kirsty, can you tell us your story - how you started in photography and a little bit about your journey from then till now? I studied analog photography many years ago when I was 18 at art school, but this was before digital became mainstream. It was my first contact with the medium, and sadly I felt defeated and frustrated by my tutor's focus on the technical processes rather than creative expression. I saw photography as an art form not a science, and so in the end I followed a career into fashion design instead. It was another 13 years until I picked up a camera again in the summer of 2007. I was in the process of recovering from 4 months of chronic insomnia brought on by posttraumatic stress. The drugs I had been prescribed, had numbed my senses to the point where I had pretty much lost all awareness of touch, temperature and interest in the lives of the people around me, I was a zombie. I was undergoing hypnotherapy and slowly things began to return, but my sensitivity came back at an almost heightened state. It’s hard to describe without it sounding like a cliché, but it was like I was seeing the world for the first time, and I had an overwhelming urge to record everything around me.

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The Inspirations: Princess Lasertron

You know Princess Lasertron right? Inventor of the felt & button bouquet (yes, the original inventor of the concept!) and fashion designer from Omaha. Jeez, it’s hard to put into words how much I adore Megan, the lady behind the brand. After falling in love with her over the internet, and a mutual respect that grew from expanding our respective businesses at the same time, I was utterly flummoxed when she invited me to model in her catwalk show at Omaha Fashion Week in August.

At the time I thought the trip would be a shrewd business move and nothing more. However yes while it certainly was, what I didn’t expect was the epic and genuine real life friendship that would blossom from that trip. I love her, I love her family, I love her outlook on life and work, and I love love love that she’s agreed to be interviewed in The Inspirations.

My sister from another mister, I adore you…

You can see more of Megan all over my blog here, including the posts related to my Omaha trip if you missed them at the time too. Also, if you haven’t seen them before (and you should!) click here to check out her wedding to Mr Lasertron. It’s all kinds of wonderful.

Me & Megan after our ‘Morning Blend’ appearance during Omaha Fashion Week. You can watch it here and see some more behind the scenes photos here.

Hey Megan! So, what’s the Princess Lasertron story?

Throughout my life so far, I can see that I was constantly receiving clues about where I ought to be, what kind of career would make me happy, and which pursuits were really allowing the creative possibilities in my mind to unfold. I’m 25 years old, and I’ve done many of the things I was “supposed” to do. I graduated college (German and Intercultural Communication), worked passionately in several jobs (bakery, radio station, hot air balloon chaser, record store clerk), and traveled around Europe (where I picked up textiles, paper, and beautiful dyes…not postcards). I got married and I have a baby. I own a house and I drive to work every day. But there is little about my routine that is conventional.

When I met my ultimate dream dude and proposed marriage to him in 2007, I didn’t realize that I was on the precipice of a new career that would bring so much joy and inspiration into my life. I started my business, Princess Lasertron, in 2005 to bring project ideas and handmade accessories to modern brides, such as the original felt flower bouquet which I designed and just became a gigantic trend in the wedding world. But it wasn’t until after my own wedding that my aesthetic and vision became more known in my industry and my orders skyrocketed as blogs and magazines reprinted my wedding photos, shared my project ideas, and published interviews about my “wedding party” and “make it pretty” philosophies.

Since my small beginnings, Princess Lasertron has grown to a three-person company serving hundreds of brides each year. My designs have been featured in countless blogs and magazines, I have had the opportunity to speak in conferences and classrooms around the country, and I have enjoyed the greatest honor of creating real connections with readers around the world through my blog.

Where did the name Princess Lasertron come from?

The name Princess Lasertron came to me in a dream. I thought FOREVER about what to name my business–it had to be something feminine, but badass. It had to be memorable. It had to be scalable so I could apply it to other ventures I pursued down the road (i.e., not “Megan Hunt Floral Design” or something), and it had to have a good cadence–just sound good when you say it out loud. Personally I’m more of a “Lasertron” than a “Princess,” but I think the name represents my brand perfectly.

You had your daughter Alice 2 years ago. How do you make running such a successful full time business look so effortless when you have a child? Has she changed you, the way you work or your motivation? And do you have any advice for anyone struggling to juggle children and working for themselves?

I have a daughter, Alice, who will be two years old in May. (And we share a birthday!) While pregnant, I was in the process of scouting locations to start a coworking space for other entrepreneurs and freelancers, and we had our opening party for CAMP was when Alice was four weeks old. So having my child definitely came during a hectic time. I was moving my home studio into CAMP, I was making contracts for tenants, I was shopping for furniture and setting up utilities–and meanwhile, I had fifteen brides to take care of that month. I worked while I was in labor, and I worked the day I got home from the hospital. And that’s all to explain the kind of energy Alice was born into.

Until Alice was a toddler, I took her to work with me every day. My productivity was slower, but I was there to manage my workers and have a presence in the space. I got a lot done when she was napping or nursing, and my husband took over when he got home from work so I could go back to the studio all night. Alice is used to going to events with me–gallery openings, launch parties for many of the other thriving businesses here in my region, and she comes to conferences with me as well. My ambition has not died.

I will say that this has been a bit of a sacrifice. I have missed more bedtimes than I was there for. I rarely have dinner with my family. But I am with Alice every day, and I am proud of the example I am setting for her.

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The Inspirations: La Carmina

Reading the work of other bloggers is so important to me. I spend at least an hour a day (and often more!) catching up with my favourite non-wedding bloggers. I find they really help me stay inspired and not get trapped in the ‘wedding industry bubble’. It’s nice to feel a part of the ‘real world’ (however wacky!) too…otherwise I’d go mental. These other bloggers help me to keep what I do fresh and therefore enables my blogging to be more rounded – so thank you non-wedding bloggers!

This week I wanted to introduce you to another of my favourites, La Carmina.

A published author and TV presenter,  La Carmina has managed to use the platform of her blog to forge an impressive career out of her passion for alternative fashion and wacky subcultures. Now if that’s not seriously inspiring I don’t know what is!

Hey La Carmina, it’s fabulous to finally have you on the pages of Rock n Roll Bride! For those readers who, unlike me, haven’t online-stalked you for the past three years, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a “spooky-cute” travel and fashion blogger, with a passion for alternative and Gothic subcultures. I was born in Vancouver, Canada and studied at Columbia University and Yale Law, but fell in love with blogging and jumped on this path instead. It’s led to life-changing opportunities: I’m now the author of 3 books — including Cute Yummy Time (Penguin) and Crazy, Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo (Random House) — and a journalist for CNN, Huffington Post, AOL. My “First Mate” and I started a TV fixing, hosting and coolhunting firm, called “La Carmina & The Pirates.”

I also host my own web series for Huffington Post, and am constantly traveling for appearances and work (last year, I was in Hong Kong, Macau, Italy, LA, Mexico and more). Right now, my focus is on television presenting; my credits include The Today Show, Travel Channel, NHK Japan, Fuel/Discovery/National Geographic, Food Network, Pepsi, Sony, Norway TV, CNN. All my TV clips are here.

Where did the name ‘La Carmina’ come from?

I wrote a blog post that explains how the name La Carmina came about. You can read it here.

In a nutshell, it is a nickname derived from my real name (Carmen), and a tribute to La Camilla (Army of Lovers), La Carlotta (Phantom of the Opera) and La Casati: flamboyant, eccentric fashion divas.

You blog about alternative fashion and culture, with particular focus on Japan. What made you get into, and fall in love with, Japanese culture?

Since my family is from Asia, we often traveled to Japan when I was young. In my early teens, I visited Harajuku and my mind was blown open by the vibrant street fashion and culture – Jrock, Goth Lolita, Punk. This was the initial spark that led to where I am today. I continue to be fascinated by the connections between alternative fashion, music and subcultures.

When and why did you decide to start a blog and was it a conscious career decision at the time?

I first heard of blogs around 2004-5. When I started mine in September 2007, I was at Yale Law School, but felt frustrated by the lack of a creative outlet. Blogging was a perfect fit: it combined photography, writing, and interaction — allowing me to share my love of dark fashion and subcultures.

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