a clare view

Clare Shilland's sparse, subtle photographs are a lesson in honest communication.

Her focused, uncluttered approach to portraiture allows the subject room to breath, drawing out the nuances of distinct personalities without manipulation. At work, Clare Shilland is as uncomplicated as her photography, working quickly and choosing to keep the studio low-key so that the focus remains solely on the subject.

Below we have a chat to her about her journey into photography, her inspirations and favourite subjects, while she also picks her six favorite photos ranging from American rock bands to models to her kids.

Did you have a light bulb moment where you realized you wanted to be a photographer?

I was doing a graphic design BA at Camberwell - I was terrible. And I picked up a camera and took some photos and they were great! So I guess that was it.

My Nan would take pictures of just about everything and everyone when I was young - was there someone in your family like that when you were growing up?

My dad, and then I took over when I was a teenager. Although I didn't realize it was what I wanted to do then.

What was the first camera you owned?

A Pentax that was my Dad's.

How did you start taking photography from a hobby and into a job?

It was never a hobby. As soon as I had that moment at art school I never went back.

Whose work has inspired you the most?

Nan Goldin, Joseph Szabo, Larry Clark, Sally Mann.

What are your trying to capture when you take a picture?

Something I can't describe in words. The strange moment. The real person.

Is there such a thing as a bad photo?

Yes and no.

What makes a good photo?

A good subject or a beautiful thing happening. Or an awful thing happening.

What or who is your favorite subject?

It used to be my brother and then my sister when we were young. Now it's my children.

What do you think something like Instagram has done to the art of photography?

It's made it unbelievably accessible.

Do you research your subjects? Can that help draw more out of them?

Depends how much time I have beforehand. It can help, but sometimes it's good to know nothing. Then you are two strangers getting to know each other in a pretty intimate situation.

How do you relax your subjects?

Talk to them. Tell them very bad jokes. I'm not good at small talk. Sometimes it just flows though and you have a connection and it's amazing.

Do you prefer shooting men or women?

I like both. I can have the same intimate connection (or sometimes not!) with men and women.

How would you describe your style?

Natural and uncomplicated.

What do you want the viewer to take away from your pictures?

To have seen something that stays with them for a little while.


BEAT cover, Warpaint.

This was the first issue of BEAT magazine. I was super excited to be shooting this band, and doing it for the cover. We shot it on an empty street in Manchester. A massive hoarding had just been painted white so I had the perfect outdoor studio! I had about an hour to do the cover and ten pages. Easy peasy.


Singles cover, Damaris. Stylist Hanna Kelifa, designer Suzy Wood.

Self-published single story zine I did with these guys. We shot it in Amsterdam for two days, where D was living at the time. It was freezing. I love this one of Damaris she looks so open and happy!


Hannah outside McDonalds in Bromley.

This is my sister. I shot her outside McDonalds in Bromley where we are from. It was after school  – she has 'trainers' written on her hand. One of my all time faves.


Sisters in i-D.

For a girls story, shot with Hanna Kelifa again. The attitude and the track suits!


Miriam Wolf 2016.

This is my daughter. I shot it after her bath in the last light of the day.

Styling by Beth Fenton
Styling by Beth Fenton

Alice, from Love From Alice.

In Sweden. An amazing trip. This is just a really quiet and beautiful photo.

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