Indie Interview: Fyrefly Studios
On the blog today, Jason Warner from Fyrefly Studios shares his indie journey, the inspiring photographers that have helped him to establish his style, and the lengths (and depths!) he’ll go to to get the shot! >>
Tell us about yourself and why you decided to set up Fyrefly Studios.
I used to be a professional musician and toured the UK, Europe and US. There’s a lot of free time on tour and so plenty of opportunities to be naughty. But being naughty gets boring after a while and is also very unhealthy so as a distraction I bought a little camera and started photographing the other bands I was touring with. I realised that being on one side of the camera and being photographed all the time, perhaps, made me able to understand and capture other performers. The bass guitars then got smaller and the cameras got bigger until I started to realise I could make a little money and decided to open my studio and go full pro in summer 2019. Back then I specialised in live performance and artists promotion and was doing really well until, well, you know what came along…
Who inspires your photography and your unique style?
I marvel at photographers like Lars Tjunbork and David LaChapelle. They’re miles apart in style but both are instantly recognisable, particularly their insane use of colour. And LaChapelle is just flat out bonkers. In my early days I photographed everything in black and white because it was easier but as soon as I figured out that colour is quite important I really started to dial it up. If I have a style it uses saturated colour. Having said that, I adore Cecil Beaton’s work from the 20s and 30s. I study his work a lot because the way he uses light is amazing. It blows my mind that he could do stuff like that way back then! I also really like Rhona Murphy, a well known live performance photographer I met at Truck Festival. I was a little star-struck but she was so lovely and supportive and her work is sooooo good.
What kind of photography do you specialise in?
Live performance is my first love but thanks to Covid I’ve had to diversify into commercial and actually, I really like it. I’ve learned that my kind of photography is about communicating with people and so meeting business owners and entrepreneurs is really cool. I love hearing the stories of their own journeys and I love how their passion drives me to create the best images I can for them. I’m not happy until my client is happy. Luckily, everyone seems to be happy thus far so I must be doing something right.
Which of your images are you most proud of and why?
My first festival commission of 2021, was the rather fabulous Treehouse Festival down in the south of Oxfordshire. It was so good to be back working at a live event and I’m really happy with the photos I took; my aim with festivals is not just to photograph the performers but to capture the spirit of the happening by roaming the place and meeting all the party people. I think I’ve done that with this years’ Treehouse. All made easier by the insanely beautiful festival setting and the equally beautiful clientele!
What are your tips for creating awesome product shots (besides hiring you!)
Lots of lovely natural light. Obviously much depends on the product and the brief the client has given me, but I know that I would choose natural light over studio lights every time. Being inventive helps too. I was recently commissioned by Chadlington Brewery to create images of their full range of beers and what sets them apart is the natural spring where they draw all their water from. So there’s me, stood knee-deep in a waterfall near the brewery trying to balance 7 beers in the rocks and in my best trainers because I don’t own wellies. The photos came out great, the shoes are in the bin.
What’s the best thing about running your business?
Creative freedom. My time as a professional musician was often influenced by a major record label. Now I can do what I like when I like, including standing in a waterfall in my best trainers, and no-one can tell me off (except maybe my Dad, Big Bob).
How have you had to adapt your business due to the pandemic?
I had to diversify. In the days leading up to the first lockdown I lost 28 live performance bookings I had for summer 2020: Gigs, festivals, parties, a drag show, a community choir, an opera, all gone. So I started to teach myself product and food photography and picked up a few commissions from restaurants close to my studio. I now work with a very broad range of businesses across Oxfordshire and into the Cotswolds and take photographs of everything from people to burgers and coconut cream conditioner to electric cars.
What are you dreaming about doing when restrictions are completely eased?
Reconnecting with all those fabulous performers, artists and promoters that I worked so closely with before the pandemic. It really felt like the artistic life of the City was in an amazing place in 2019 and I can’t wait to immerse myself back in it. I just hope the live music side of things can survive. With the loss of vital venues like The Cellar, The Wheatsheaf and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre, the scene is, for the first time in my 20 years living here, in real trouble and shame on all our politicians, local and national, if it is allowed to perish.
Which are your favourite indies in Oxfordshire?
All of them. That may be a cop-out answer but now that I have experienced what it’s like going on the independent adventure, I have the most enormous respect for anyone who does it!