Paul Giggle came across our radar via his 12 Natural Wonders series, although, his portfolio expands far beyond that.
From starting his career in front of the camera to later a creative director and publisher and most recently as an international director and photographer, Paul’s work has been featured in Vogue, GQ, Marie Claire and Madame Figaro and has worked with brands that include Pepsi, Nokia, Ford, Hyundai and Proctor and Gamble. And, this is just a snippet into his photography roster.
As for his directorial side, he has shot TV commercials for Nokia, Aqua Minerale, Pepsi, Australia Tourism, Queensland Tourism and the London Business School, among others.
In this interview, we are going to tap the surface of his extensive portfolio while also gaining some advice for the next set of photographers and directors.
MalenDyer: As you started your career in the UK as a creative director and publisher, why did you decide to make the transition from being a corporate creative to becoming a photographer and director?
Paul Giggle: Being a creative director means that you are constantly looking at new talent and trying to reinvent the wheel by working with dynamic image makers. Having art directed shoots all over the world with these great photographers and creatives, [it] inspired me to want to create my own imagery.
PG: I remember my first ever shoot – I was petrified. Having never assisted, I was technically very green, so I employed two of the best assistants and a big model from Paris. I had a friend from IMG New York pop in on the shoot. I had pre drawn every position. Luckily the shoot was a huge success and that was the seed to make we want to shoot more.
“I remember my first ever shoot – I was petrified. I had pre drawn every position.”
PG: It was a huge move for me. I sold my shares in the publishing company and moved away to Australia for eight months to practice my art.
MD: We understand you have a special relationship, if you will, with Africa. Share with us some insight into that relationship.
PG: I had always loved Africa and recall my first ever trip was with for a photo shoot with Britt Ekland, former Bond girl, for Hello magazine. This trip was so enchanting I knew that I would have to come back.
“Africa’s magic will always stay with you.”
PG: I shot there for Madame Figaro in 2004, and had an amazing experience. In 2010, we went on a family holiday and decided to shoot some personal photographs, which I exhibited at a gallery in Brisbane. The tonal quality of light is amazing and the Massai people are so beautiful. I shot a series of portraits in a remote village two hours North of Nairobi, as well as some gorgeous animal pictures.
MD: What memorable moment or takeaway did you have during this trip?
PG: Africa’s magic will always stay with you and having had so many amazing experiences, including being chased by elephants, walking over to a pride of lions to pat one – absolutely shitting myself – and having baboons throw things at me.
MD: Do you prefer shooting in black & white or color?
PG: I love both, but I do like the honesty and contrast of black & white photography. It seems more timeless.
MD: If you had to choose, do you prefer being a photographer or director?
PG: I love both and use my skills in both fields. Directing is always about performance, but first of all, we must set the scene and this is where the craft of lighting each setting is very important. With photography, I often use film lights, as flash can be hard to refine the subtleties that we can achieve with film.
“You can never prepare enough for a shoot.”
MD: Do you document your own life with a camera?
PG: I have been in front of the camera many years ago trying to make it as an actor, but I much prefer this other side of the camera. My wife documents our life when I am around.
MD: What advice can you offer those aspiring to become a photographer?
PG: Pre production is king. You can never prepare enough for a shoot. Study photographers you love and live and breathe their work until it morphs into yours and then put your spin onto it. Originality is more about the idea and never fear about going outside your comfort zones.
PG: Successful artists are remembered mostly because they have pushed the boundaries – Nick Knight, David LaChapelle and Helmut Newton all push the boundaries. Lastly, [with] lighting, hair, makeup and models, always try to aim for the best and don’t rely on friends – make it your mission to try to get to know the agencies that represent them.
MD: With such a wide portfolio, including photos and videos, is there a Paul Giggle stamp you try to place on them all?
PG: Luxury and beauty is something I try to maintain. But, as you know, looks change all the time, so it is important to stay on top and reinvent yourself.
“Successful artists are remembered mostly because they have pushed the boundaries.”
MD: How does shooting an editorial for a fashion publication differ from a shooting a large corporate campaign?
PG: As a film director, I suppose I try to look for something more than a blank stare and find myself trying to get a feeling or a story from my pictures. Shooting for large corporations, obviously, is very demanding and the expectations are awfully high. Editorials are also demanding, as you are only as good as the work you do – you have to make it brilliant.
MD: On taking images for brands, we need to ask about the shoot you did for Alexia Mossay, as the images are truly stand out. Share with us some insight into this shoot.
PG: Alexia Mossay is a new designer from Madrid, living in London. She liked my style and asked me to shoot her launch campaign, along with a small film we shot over four days in London.
PG: I wanted the elegance of the couture to penetrate against an intricate and beautiful location. And we found an amazing hotel in Madrid to shoot. The models came from an agency in Madrid, and I wanted beautiful mixed with character so that there was interest. The makeup brief was editorially strong. Alexia’s style is unique, and she always wants hats on every shot – very [Audrey] Hepburn-inspired, as was the film.
MD: What is the furtherest you’ve gone or have requested a model to go for on a shoot, such as this one with Zarah Walker who was game to swim in stinger infested waters?
PG: Flying models and crew is very expensive, so I try to keep the shoots contained. In Australia, I was able to shoot over a longer period of time and fly models to destinations that suited. Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation [in Australia] was a real experience, and yes, we do flirt a little with danger to get the shot.
MD: On a different note, share with us some details on this Austin-Healey.
PG: This was the second time that I had shot with an Austin-Healey in the last six months. I do love old cars and my favourite is an Austin Martin DB5.
PG: Maybe one day, once the 12 Natural Wonders book has sold well and the art prints have been sold across the globe, I can sit in one and smile at the legacy I have left behind – as I drive off into the sunset.
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12 Natural Wonders