Photographer Nick I. D. Masters on constructing something new from nothing

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Nick I.D. Masters is a photographer and retoucher based in Hackney, London. Nick tells us about his career and the path he took to create this body of work.

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I have been freelancing for seven years, both as a portrait photographer and a fashion and advertising retoucher. I love what I do and the flexibility it gives me to work on many different projects. I really enjoy making ideas visually shareable. I work in studios, locations, production houses and at home.

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I have always made things and my family has always encouraged inventiveness. My brother and I would spend most of our free time building toys and machines from cardboard, Meccano and nearly anything that we could construct something new from. I didn’t study arts subjects at school or college or go to university.

It was several years after leaving college that I got an interest in photography and I started a beginners evening course. I found a job in a photographic studio soon after and I never looked back.

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I began this series in 2015. I started renting a small art studio with the aim of shooting and experimenting without pressure. I had been developing my ideas over the years and I wanted to start getting them out of my head and bringing them into my work. I limited and simplified a lot of my processes to allow me to focus on my creative ideas. The project has developed into a personal style of work that I am now promoting.

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My pictures of people are a blend of portraiture and performance, fantasy and reality. I try to work in an actor-director way to make a world and a character. Often, the character in the image is part the personality of the sitter and part a created role. I am experimenting with using creative drama to explore real situations. I think playing a role is an interesting way for people to feel comfortable and show a side of themselves they might not normally.

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I like working with people that aren’t models and I build and style small sets in studio and on location. I use muted, painterly colour palates, dramatic studio lighting and retouching to give a classical, nocturnal feel to my work.

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Working as a retoucher has really helped me improve in my photography. The better a retoucher I have become, the less I fix mistakes from my own shoots in post-production. I aim to get the picture as close to how I want in camera as possible.

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I am starting to use moving image in my shoots and I plan to start to include some of these edited clips in my future portfolio. I am working on building props for upcoming shoots and have plans for still life project in this style.

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I reference real world and imaginary situations and ideas when constructing scenes. I’m interested in the unique worlds that exist in peoples heads and how they relate to a common reality.
I really like to experiment with different physical processes and tools and I often combine found objects and materials to make new background elements. I regularly trawl the streets around my studio, car boot sales and charity shops to find things that I can use and that spark my imagination. I style the shoots in a certain way to try to make the images look like they are from a time that is hard to recognize.

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I am sending this new body of work out and I am looking for people who respond well to it with the aim of building a new client base. I have had some great feedback and I’ve been in talks with some really interesting companies about working together. I am excited about the future and plan to keep developing my ideas and work.

Learn more about Nick on his website.

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