As a photographer there is always the work you wish you could be doing and the work you actually do to pay the bills. Ali Mitton’s images are a prime example of the work I wish I could be doing more of. Her combination of whimsy and edge – not to mention beautiful women – result in these scenarios one might think were only possible in dreams. This Australian-born lady has recently moved to Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn and I had the chance to talk to her about everything from boobs to donuts. Enjoy.
You recently moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, both big cities but very different… what are the biggest differences you’ve noticed with work and lifestyle?
New York kind of kicked my arse in a way – it’s cool and fun, but ultimately I like to be near mountains, ocean, and sunshine. Also I feel as an artist it’s much more inspiring to be in California.
Yes, everyday. Mostly just my family and friends. I feel like America is the place for my career, and I visit home all the time.
Tell me about the moment when things came full circle and you realized you made it as a photographer…
I totally haven’t ‘made it’, but I feel like I’m well on my way to living the life I’ve always wanted by doing what I love. I moved to New York mainly because I fell in love with a New Yorker (who now lives with me in LA). When I got there I was excited but a little lost and overwhelmed. I abandoned a strong client base in Australia to be in this bustling city that terrified me a little. The nature of my visa meant I had to get a side job. So I got a job at a cafe down the road from me. It was fun sometimes, but I was sad not to be shooting. We used to sell these giant, glistening, sweating donuts. They would leave this revolting stickiness all over anything that came near them. It was my job to scrape the donut cabinet. So people would come in and buy these sweaty donuts for their fabulous important meetings, leaving me only with the remnants to scrape up. And I was like, ‘Shit. It’s 9am, who the hell eats donuts for breakfast.’ Thinking about it now, it seems like a lifetime ago.
Anyway, I was recently in New York for a meeting with a wonderful new client. A dream client actually. They sent someone to get lunch. When they came back they were clutching a brown box full of those same sweaty donuts, all the way from Brooklyn. And I was like, damn. I realized how far I’d come in only a few months and had this overwhelming urge to bury my face in them….but I didn’t. That would have been a bad move. Only months before I was feeling like where I wanted to be was so far away. I kept my head down, kept my focus and hustled hard. I was calling and emailing everyone, and lots of people I didn’t know or care who I was. Many of those same people are following up with me now and I can’t tell you how happy I am to have all my dreams coming true at once. Working hard and staying honest and positive sounds easy. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and put everything you have into what you’re creating.
How do you feel about boobs, or I guess nudity in photos?
It totally depends on the context of course, and I don’t agree with imagery that objectifies women for no good reason. But generally I love boobs – mine and everyone else in the worlds. I like nudity in photographs. I think it’s really funny that people still might find it a little bit of a shock to see boobs. As if they were born without nipples.
You seem to have shooting females down pretty well, any interest in shooting more men?
I like shooting women – It’s comfortable. I don’t know why I don’t shoot men. It just doesn’t come up that often I guess. Send me some boys and I’ll shoot them!
You said you like to do your own castings for shoots and enjoying finding girls before they “blow up.” What do you look for when picking out models?
There’s a certain quality that I can’t even really explain. It’s just an instinct from working with agencies for so long. I feel like I have a knack for identifying clients needs, and finding the perfect girl to compliment and elevate their brand. Generally girls that have a little bit of edge too, and a sassy, fun personality goes a long way.
Do you think models act differently depending on if a male or female is shooting them?
I think it totally depends on the personality of each person, and the nature of the shoot.
What’s the least glamorous part of being a photographer?
I always hurt myself. Because I’m always trying to climb things and I’m just not very good at climbing things.
What do you hope to do more of?
I’d love to do more lifestyle/advertising shoots. You know, like running, laughing people. More destination shoots and much more travel! I’d love to get to the point where I can just tell my clients what part of the world I’m in and then produce something amazing for them there.