Interview #27: Francesca Allen
CUS: First of all, the most standard question in the book: how did you get into photography?
Francesca Allen: This is such a hard question and I never ever know the answer. I used to take photographs of my sister around the garden with my little point and shoot camera. I spent a long time saving up for an SLR and I haven't put it down since. Photography is so personal to me, it is my way of almost escaping from the world and creating something that only exists in my mind. I like to show people how I see things.
CUS: Tell us a little about where you live.
FA: For now, I am living in a small town full of small-minded people. I live in a white semi-detached house near some fields and when it pours with rain there is sometimes a stream. It rains a lot of the time here and the sky is always grey. You will never see the stars at night. I suppose England is beautiful in it's own way.
CUS: If you could photograph any person (past or present) who would you choose?
FA: As cliché as this may seem, it would be Audrey Hepburn. She was undoubtedly the most elegant woman ever to be in the public eye. I could easily spin off a list of incredible models that I can only dream of ever photographing.
CUS: What kind of camera do you enjoy using the most?
FA: This might seem silly, but I love taking photographs with a disposable camera! I currently have one sitting on my bedside table filled with photographs from up to five months ago. I have around three exposures left and I can't decide when to use them. I did a disposable camera project with Allie Reed where we took photographs on our cameras, mailed them and developed each others. Looking back at my photographs was so indescribably beautiful. Technically they were horrible images, my finger made an appearance in several, but they were memories long gone and it was so lovely to have them brought back. I can't wait to develop my current disposable camera. I also love to use my Canon AE-1.
CUS: Do you always have preconceived concepts of what you want to shoot?
FA: I never used to. I used to find a pretty girl and a pretty dress and a pretty field and take pretty photos, but that gets boring after a while. Now I plan my shoots in my notepad, and try to find interesting props, clothes and locations. I find that I am a lot happier with my photographs lately as a result of that.
CUS: What is your most treasured possession?
FA: My photographs, all of my photographs. I would be completely devastated if I lost them and I wouldn't know how to react. I hate the thought of losing memories, and photography is my only way of preserving them forever.
CUS: What’s playing on your iTunes right now?
FA: I'm currently listening to Ellie Goulding's cover of 'Wolves' by Bon Iver. I have just discovered her and I am obsessed. Bon Iver will always be my favourite musical artist.
CUS: Tell us a little about your family.
FA: I live with my half sister, my half brother, my step-dad and my mum. My dad lives in a camper van, I don't know quite where. Sometimes I don't think he knows either. I have a half sister in Cornwall. I am the eldest child. I've never been close to my family and I don't think I ever will be. I like my independence yet I am terrified of growing up.
CUS: What is your favorite photograph that you’ve taken, and what’s the story behind it?
My favourite photograph changes every five minutes I swear. But this is an image that I am really proud of. It was taken during my shoot at a tree house for a school project on 'architecture'. There were about three minutes of beautiful light and I asked Frances to lower her dress out of the image and clasp the lace fabric. It was so cold she had goosebumps all over. I love the simplicity of this photograph.
CUS: Which technology do you think has most benefited our generation?
FA: As a photographer, I think that the internet has most benefited our generation. I have learnt so much through viewing other people's work and talking to such wonderful people that I would otherwise never know.
CUS: If you could be anyone for a day who would you be?
FA: I would choose to be somebody living in a developing country, so when I would return to being me I could appreciate every single thing I have.
CUS: What are your other hobbies besides photography?
FA: I love graphic design! I recently took it for a subject at school and it is slowly becoming a passion of mine. I don't have any hobbies as of such. I play guitar and listen to music all day long. I like to go out dancing and I see my friends sometimes too.
CUS: Where do you see yourself in 20 years? Do you think that photography will still be a big part of your life?
FA: In 20 years I will be 36 and that scares me more than anything. I hope to still be taking photographs of wonderful people in wonderful places. I want to travel the world and see everything. I don't think I will have my own family. Photography will always be a part of me and my life would be empty without it. I have no reason to give it up.
CUS: What advice would you give to your fellow up-and-coming photographers?
FA: Stop comparing yourself to other people. I often get so upset when I look at other people's photographs and I realise that they are far better than I ever will be, but it does me no good whatsoever.
CUS: Our last interviewee, David Urbanke, wants to know: What song makes you really happy?
FA: It would have to be Hall & Oats - You Make My Dreams Come True or perhaps Lisa Mitchell's Neapolitan Dreams.
CUS: Last but not least, what would you like to ask our next Interviewee?
FA: What do your friends think of your photography and how much time you dedicate to it?
ed. note: images updated 9/13