Kate Jackling Still life plant photography with a reflective twist

Cover Image - Kate Jackling

From her east London base, still-life photographer Kate Jackling has steadily built her stellar reputation. Whether it’s shooting for some of fashion’s biggest brands, like COS, Mulberry and Burberry, or creating images for leading publications like Wallpaper, Hole & Corner and The New York Times’ T Magazine, Kate has long displayed unerring visual instincts. Using personal projects like Fifty-Fifty to hone her approach to color, light and texture, she has become one of the most sought-after image-makers around.

How do you see the relationship between the photographer and the set designer/art director? How do you like to collaborate?

I guess firstly, I see the role of set designer very different to that of an art director and therefore my relation to each of these people can differ.

In the beginning, nearly all of my work was made and directed myself. In establishing my style, I felt it was so important that I have control over how to execute my idea. This way I wasn’t distracted and followed my instincts.

That was very important as I didn’t quite know where I was going with it all, but by experimenting and feeling my way I discovered my style.

Later on, it became clear to me how a set designer, an art director and myself can work together. Most set designers also have their own style, so I can think about who fits each job in the case of advertising and editorial.

When it’s a personal project, I am creating a project together with the set designer; usually it’s something both of us need to get out of our system! I still like to keep some personal projects to myself, but I also see how having another set of eyes can really push a project further.

You use reflection quite often in your work – why are you drawn to that do you think?

Hmmmm, yes you’re right. I think for me it creates another layer of intrigue and can also soften an image. It’s a way to go deeper, to play, to recreate.

It can be the feminine addition to the composition too. You can do so much with it – not only as a lighting tool, but also as a prop and key part of the image. Maybe it’s also part of my personality, I am very reflective in thought – I can overthink!

Tell us how this series came about? It feels really summery but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why…

I wanted to do a personal project using natural elements. I think as a studio-based still-life photographer, it’s all very controlled and graphic, so it was time to introduce natural and organic elements. I also wanted to use a beamsplitter (or two-way) mirror.

By using this technique, you get to see the colour gamut divided within the reflection. Depending on the colours used in the set and the plants, it brings out certain colours within the reflection.

I guess it feels like a study to me – keeping the summery feeling, but introducing a scientific approach. This was another project that I did by myself; one lovely lost weekend playing around in the studio. I have a great Japanese colouring book that I used as a reference.

How do you see the relationship between your personal and your commissioned work? Does one feed into the other?

I’m not sure. I don’t make personal work to get commissioned work, but inevitably it can be the inspiration for someone’s idea for a commission, or a reference point at least.

I’d like to think that someone is commissioning they saw something in a piece of personal work that would translate into a commission. It can also work the other way around though don’t forget – that a piece of commissioned work can inspire a personal project.

The great thing about personal work is that you can experiment and take it way further than a commissioned piece. However, some personal ideas I have actually need something as a central focal point!