Many unsung heroes shape All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, and Annabel Staff is one of them; specializing in live music and social documentary photography, her expert eye ensures that every All Walks event is captured and communicated with pictorial genius.
With recent credits including our trip to the House of Commons for the Miss Representation Screening, we caught with Annabel to meet the lady behind the lens…
All Walks: What first sparked your interest in photography?
My dad. When I was young, there would always be my dad’s cameras dotted around the house, and I would pick them up and look through the viewfinder and be so amazed at how the world would look through the lens. Dad was really passionate about photography, and really nurtured my interest in it, I really do have him to thank, he’d be very impressed with how far I have come.
AW: Tell us something that we don’t know about live music photography?
You only ever get to shoot the first three songs of any gig and it’s not half as glamorous as people think it is, but it is a lot of fun!
AW: How do you convey the atmosphere of a live gig in a single shot?
Well…that’s a complex question! One thing it’s really important to concentrate on is expression, you really have to capture the artist at the peak of their emotions while they are performing, which can be a fleeting moment so it requires a lot of concentration.
AW: When did you first become involved with All Walks Beyond the Catwalk?
In 2010, I met the lovely Debra at an event I was shooting, I was drawn to her pretty awesome Keith Haring T-shirt and we started chatting, and she told me about All Walks, I stayed in touch and got more and more interested in the initiative and offered my help if it was needed. Everyone involved is so passionate and great to be around, it really has a positive influence and I love getting involved in something so positive.
AW: You’ve shot an assortment of different women for All Walks, how do you communicate their individual personality though a picture?
I’m a bit of a “sit back and see” photographer I would suppose, it’s best not to get too involved in directing people around, rather let the person relax and chat before taking the photographs. I always like to shoot quickly, I think you will always capture the personality within the first few shots, if you take too long you lose people as they may start to get self conscious in front of the camera.
AW: All Walks recently hosted the Miss Representation screening at the House of Commons; did you enjoy shooting the event?
Really enjoyed it! Great to see so many diverse people in one place, all connecting to a shared vision, getting involved and watching all the conversations happening. You could tell that the event really struck a chord with everyone there.
AW: What do you love the most about your job?
The variety. One day I will be photographing events, the next I’ll be shooting portraits, in the evenings I’m shooting music, the next day I may be in the studio, the next week I’ll be photographing in France maybe, or for instance, the other day I was up at an unearthly hour to do production shots for a radio station broadcasting from the set of Harry Potter.
AW: You photograph such an eclectic range of subjects; how important is diversity to you when shooting?
Ah well I think I just answered that above! It’s so important. I love working with people, I love meeting people, and making people smile – which although sounds horribly cheesy, it’s what makes it all worthwhile, when I get feedback to say that I’ve really captured a feeling or emotion, it really is the best compliment. Also, I need variety for my personality, I don’t like to be stuck on one thing for too long, I like to keep moving and keep exploring, coming up with new ideas, so variety really is key.
AW: What’s next for Annabel Staff?
Well, who knows, the world is your oyster (I am I really full of so many clichés?!), I really believe that. If you believe in yourself you can do whatever your heart desires, so, I am concentrating on where I want to be next – but I am pretty sure it involves a bit of a switch in the direction of my photography, I’m keen to shoot something new that I have never done before, I have some ideas, but I am nurturing them at the moment. I definitely want to travel more with my work as well, it’s a big beautiful world out there and it seems crazy to stay in one place when there is so much out there to see and experience.