Get To Know Jay McLaughlin | Fashion Photographer

Get To Know Jay McLaughlin | Fashion Photographer

Jay Mclaughlin is a fashion photographed based in London. A photographer that we’ve been following for years and who’s work we love, Jay clearly understands that being a photographer is not just about taking beautiful images; it’s about being business saavy. An ambassador for Olympus, and working for other major brands and publications, we wanted to take some time to get to know him better!

For our readers who have never come across your work before, could you give us an idea of your background?

I hate these questions, because they sound so pretentious. Anyway, I’ve been working as a photographer for around 10 years now. I’ve photographed and been published all over the world. I split my work between fashion and celebrities, and increasingly influencers. I’m also a brand ambassador for Olympus and from time to time I do seminars and workshops. I think that just about covers it!

When did you first realise you were a creative person?

I’ve pretty much always known I’m creative. I was the arty one in school who used to draw all the time. I also used to enjoy making things out of cardboard and sellotape. It upset me when washing up liquid bottles changed shape. The new ones make sucky rockets! 🙁

Get To Know Jay McLaughlin | Fashion Photographer

When did photography first become of interest to you? 

This is an interesting question, which has two answers… I first became interested in photography when I was on family holidays and dad would take photos of the family. I always wanted a go, but I was never allowed to play with his camera (probably just because in those days photos cost money and my parents assumed I’d waste a whole roll of film). They made up for it when I was about 7 or 8 and gave me a little instamatic camera of my own. My passion grew from there.

What’s funny is that I didn’t realise how much I was interested in photography until much later. When I was coming up to my 16th birthday, I was offered a choice between flying lessons (my parents worked in aviation at the time) or an SLR camera… I chose the camera. All through my art college education, my work was very heavily photographic. After getting a degree in graphic design, I went out looking for work and had a ‘photography section’ in my design portfolio. It wasn’t until a few years later that I finally came to the realisation that it was photography that was my true passion.
Get To Know Jay McLaughlin | Fashion Photographer

How did you learn to work a camera? What steps did you take? 

I’ve actually only ever had 2 weeks worth of formal photography training, back when I was doing my art foundation… the funny thing is that I failed it! Apparently, I was using the wrong camera or something, so my photos were disqualified.

Once I’d come to realise that I was a photographer, I set about looking for courses, and watching videos on youtube. We’re so lucky to live in a world that has resources like youtube. Anyway, I found a local photographer who offered courses, sent him my work and asked if he had anything coming up, especially one on lighting. He emailed back and told me I didn’t need a course, and that he would teach me lighting in 20mins. 6 weeks later, I was assisting him on one of his courses, teaching other people. I still find that hilarious!

When did you realise that fashion photography was your main passion?

I’ve dabbled in so many different genres of photography. I feel it’s important to try everything. That being said, the images that inspire me, and the photographers who created them were all fashion related. To an extent, fashion is all encompassing and ever changing, so it’s hard to get bored as a fashion photographer.

Get To Know Jay McLaughlin | Fashion Photographer

What’s it like to be a fashion photographer in London? Have you always worked in London?

I grew up just outside London, so I was always travelling in anyway. I used to have a studio near where I lived, but gradually as I started doing more and more location work, it just made sense to relocate. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done!

How does your British heritage affect your work? Does it?

It probably doesn’t. London is so multi-everything these days, and having travelled to so many places around the world myself, I probably take inspiration from everywhere.

Get To Know Jay McLaughlin | Fashion Photographer

If you weren’t in London, where would you be?

I love travelling. There’s so many places I’ve yet to see. London is home though.

You film videos for a Youtube channel. Tell us about that! 

This happened entirely by accident and I’m still not sure about it. I was asked by Olympus to make a video on one of their new cameras. I filmed a really arty slow motion video with music… they said that wasn’t what they had in mind, and wanted me talking to the camera.
After my initial freak out, I then spent 2 days watching Youtubers and vloggers, trying to learn what they do. It then took me about 2 hours to psyche myself up enough to press record. That video now has over 10K views! Loads of people said I should do more, so I’ve been trying to. My issue is that I’m still trying to work out what I want my youtube channel to be. The actual filming part is kind of ok now, it’s more a content thing. I’m open to suggestions!
Get To Know Jay McLaughlin | Fashion Photographer

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

I’m always proud when I see my work on a magazine cover, or in a shop. I’d probably say I’m more interested in making my parents proud than myself though. I wouldn’t be where I am now without their support.

You host seminars and workshops for other photographers. What is it that you love about teaching?

I just love talking to people, and helping people be the best they can be. I don’t have any photography secrets, or things I keep to myself, and I don’t do egos. I’ve been on the receiving end of far too much of that. I just love seeing the look on people’s faces when the lightbulb moment happens and they suddenly see things differently.

Get To Know Jay McLaughlin | Fashion Photographer

Time for some favourites! 

Favourite image you’ve taken: Usually the last one

Favourite film: Star Wars

Favourite band/singer: Depends on my mood. I listen to anything except music that makes me want to kill myself or other people.

Favourite colour: Purple

Favourite photographer: It changes, but at the moment, Herb Ritts

Favourite food: Ice cream… or cake… or both

Favourite fashion designer/brand: As a brand, I love Chanel. I think Karl is a legend.

Favourite magazine:  I love the trend of big hardback coffee table magazines right now.

Favourite social media platform:  Instagram… but I use most of them for different things, and I’m always looking for the next one.

Where do you get inspiration from?  Whatever’s in front of me

Get To Know Jay McLaughlin | Fashion Photographer

Where would you like to be in 10 years time?  I don’t care where, as long as I’m happy. The world is changing so much right now, that I don’t know how relevant some of my career goals will be by then.

Where can our readers keep up with you and your work? Instagram is where most stuff goes. I’m currently updating my website, but that’s taking far longer than I’d hoped. I still love twitter for actual conversations and engagement. I recently started using Pinterest again too. I also have a Facebook page, but I don’t really use it too much. Follow me on Youtube here.


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