Feature: Q&A with... Katie Fearn

Sam recently discovered the romantic photography of Katie Fearn and caught up with her for a chat to find out about her photography business Annabella Whispers.

HM: Hi Katie, your work is gorgeous,  what made you decide to be a photographer?

KF: I picked up my first 35mm SLR (my pops) when I was around the age of 14. I was fascinated by the external beauty as well the seduction of capturing a moment in time the way your mind and eyes see and feel it. I feel totally myself and completely balanced when I have a camera in my hand. The world stands still for those precious moments. It’s just you and that moment…it’s an incredible feeling of stillness, wonderful creation and excitement. For me it’s all about telling magical enchanted stories through my lens and from my heart.

It’s that old saying ‘a picture speaks a 1000 words’ and for me the power of imagery has always, since I was little, captured my heart and allowed my imagination to fly.

HM: Do you do anything else, job wise? If you do, how do you balance the two?

KF: I spent all of last year setting up my business with the help of The Prince’s Trust which was an amazing experience, they are an incredible foundation! I fully launched my business in January so whilst business is picking up I have a part time job. It’s a little gift shop and Paint-a-Pot called Gaysey Maisey and I work there 3 days a week. It’s lovely as it allows me to still be in a creative environment, I have also met quite a few clients from working there. At times it can be difficult to balance both business and job, but I have no choice. So I have learnt that I have to make it work. I do business every day I am not at the shop and the days I am there I come home at 6pm and continue with business work. My business is my pride and joy and I give absolutely everything to it even if it means very late nights and early mornings.

HM: How did you learn your trade?

KF: I am completely self-taught as a photographer; however I am from an extremely artistic and creative background. Since the age of 14 I have studied Art and Design, in 6 form I completed two years of AVCE Art and Design, this is a 2 year Foundation Course. I studied everything from Art History, to Print Design, Ceramics, Decorative Arts, Textiles, and many more. It’s here I gained my first ‘proper’ taste of 35mm SLR and dark room as well as Pinhole Photography. Everything else regarding Photography including Editing I am completely Self Taught.

I attended Nottingham Trent University and studied Textile Design, I learnt so much about myself creatively and I constantly found myself escaping through my lens to express my concepts and inner-self. However in my second year I decided to defer, though to never return, I honestly felt and still do, that University just wasn’t the road for me. I do maintain a great amount of appreciation for the things I learnt whilst I was there. I also worked lots as a Visual Merchandiser in Fashion and the Gift Trade, working with British Designers and artisans, this job has inspired my work greatly, especially my Bespoke Prints.

Last Autumn I attended a 6week Photography Workshop at the Quad which was extremely interesting and just homed down on my already existing skills. I believe, like with anything, everything is constantly evolving and with each new step, you learn more about your skills and yourself.

HM: What are your preferred tools and why? 

KF: I use a DSLR Nikon, just because I have always had one and it’s comfortable to me, I like how it feels in my hands. I use my camera manually so I get great enjoyment in actually working the camera. I adore my Prime Lenses and also my Macro Lenses they add to the softness of touch and delicate style I so love.

To be honest I am not big on equipment, yes it helps but imagination and the personal eye is what resonates through the lens. I never use a flash it really doesn’t compliment my style and I very rarely use reflectors or any additional light sources.

I adore old SLR Camera’s; they have a wonderful quality of nostalgia to them and I have a great little collection all with their own characters. I find film brings back a lost magic I think they stimulate such enigmatic beauty and wonderment, I love how striped back and raw it is.  I especially love light ‘leaks’!

HM: Do you digitally alter your images?

KF: All of my editing is done in Photoshop.  My style is, I don’t like to edit too much away from the original image, and I only enhance and touch-up areas, as well as play with soft subtle colours. I edit each photo and use specific colour ways that compliment that shot and tone of shoot. I like to keep natural quirks like freckles and moles these are such individual treasures.  I play around with overlays and textures too, to enhance the magical stories I love so much.

My style is definitely Whimsical, from the initial creative process, to the photo-shoot, through to editing, whimsical magic truly inspires me. I adore soft delicate natural light, with sun flares, light leaks and rainbow beams; the imperfections are what I truly love. The ‘Golden Hour’ being my favourite time of day, as it brings such an ethereal dream-like quality to the images.

HM: You have a very romantic, fairy tale quality to your images, how did you develop this style?

KF: Since a young girl my imagination has been lost in magical lands, my school reports would always say ‘Katie is a daydreamer’ and I am! However what they didn’t know is that I was creating stories in my mind which in later life I have either written about or created and captured through my lens. I spent all my childhood holidays in the Lake District and to me this is home! I adore being in the middle of a forest or by the side of a lost lake or tinkering stream, I am always spellbound by the beauty. I grew up with my pops reading me Lord of The Rings and the Hobbit and my momma always reading me fairy tales. This is why I am a Location based photographer; being out in the wilderness or in old character buildings is where my stories come to life.

I have always been captivated by Folklore tales, Magic, American Bohemian dreams and places of hideaway escapes. The romantic notions of life running through enchanted forests, lakes and meadows have always stimulated my spirit. It is within these styles, personal delights and storytelling I know who I am, and I hope translate through into my photographic work.  

HM: Who or what are your biggest inspirations, and why? 

KF: I can’t pinpoint a specific person, because I have met and keep on meeting such incredible people from all walks of life who truly inspire me! I feel blessed to have been fortunate enough to meet such wonderful people and have friends who have really left their mark in my mind and heart. I truly have such admiration for people who have an inner strength and who are superbly knowledgeable at what they do, where you can see passion and drive in their eyes but are also humble.

My fiancé is a trainee Bushcraft Instructor and he inspires me every day with the knowledge and the things he studies about our beautiful world and mother earth! He meets some amazing people in the industry and through Matt relaying this information to me I feel totally inspired. When someone is so energised and inspired its electric and you can’t help but feel totally inspired yourself.

My family are exquisitely supportive; they have always tenderly allowed me and my brother to fly with our dreams. Their free-spirits and unconditional love have truly inspired my life, they are beautiful human beings and wonderful parents.

I have met some stunningly talented photographers who inspire me greatly, I totally appreciate that we are all different and all express our voices through photography. Facebook and Twitter is an amazing way of finding little photographic and creative gems, I really enjoy discovering new photographers.

HM:  What sort of projects do you like to shoot the best?

KF: Product and Fashion are my favourite shoots, because both allow for such creativity. With Fashion Shoots I like to create a story and I absolutely adore telling it through my lens. I love using vintage props, beautiful clothes, magical locations and I love models little personal fashion quirks too.

Product shoots I find wonderfully inspiring. It’s incredibly special working with designers, artisans, shops and creators who have poured their heart and soul into their beautiful creations. I feel it’s more than my job to not only photograph the product but to capture the heart and personality of the designer in the shot too. Again I don’t do photo shoots with any screen backdrops; I adore props and locations that relate to the story of the product, the collection and the designer!

I absolutely find great enjoyment in creating my bespoke prints which are product based!

HM: What would be your ideal project to work on?

KF: I would really love to collaborate on a photo-shoot with Dashing Magazine, a London based online boutique style magazine. I absolutely love the element of ‘free spiritedness’ about it, it’s beautifully quirky and I adore all the little hidden kooky pretty elements.

To be honest working for any magazine or with any designers or shops where we connect and enhance each other’s styles would be amazing! 

HM: Where did the name Annabella Whispers come from?

KF: As a child my Polish grandma, Babcia Lucia, would tell me a story (which she made up) about a fairy called Annabella who lived in a beautiful enchanted forest. She would whisper to the trees, to the flowers and to the wanderers who travelled through along the little paths. Wherever Annabella travelled she spread the most angelic light and magic.

I spent about 6months trying to think of a name for my business, then one day I was lying on my bed and it literally just hit me like a lightning bolt! It perfectly captures the essence of my work and is so very personal to me!

HM: What's next for Annabella Whispers?

KF: To freelance to magazines and to continue working with more individual and quirky designers and creators is my main ambition. Creating my bespoke prints is also a huge passion of mine, I love when a client comes to me with an idea and I bring it to life for them. I can feel myself growing alongside my business and it’s a wonderful feeling! All I ever hope to do is to inspire people with the photos I capture, the stories I tell and the words I write. If I can do that I know the rest will follow.

See more of Katie's work on  and follow her on . 

Tags:  Photography photo Derby Derby Creatives photographer Katie Fearn Annabella Whispers romantic whimsical portrait Fashion product

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