Good morning Chit Chat Tuesday readers! I hope that you have had a wonderful start to the week! The Rio 2014 World Cup is in full swing and if your family is anything like mine and are HUGE football fans then you will understand where I am coming from when I say that it has taken over!!!
It has been a busy week at Circus London PR as we have been brought on board by alexandalexa to help run their Christmas Press Day which we are all very excited about!! So, it has been go go go for us Circus gals running here there and everywhere! Anyways, enough of that! This week on CCT I have got a very bubbly character on the show! I have been aware of photographer Tom Leighton for a while now as he has worked with a lot of the stylists that come in to the Circus showroom. His photos are gorgeous and I had the pleasure of meeting Tom a couple of months ago! So, please join me in welcoming Tom on today’s CCT!
Tom!! Thank you so much for joining the CCT readers and me on today’s show! Let’s start off by you telling us a little bit about yourself…
Good morning everyone, thank you for having me! My name is Tom Leighton, but I am often known as PhotosByTomTom. I live in Camberwell, south east London, where I also have a studio. I specialise in commercial children’s photography, and food.
How did you get in to photography?
I used to live in Seville, and was back in London visiting friends. I was late to meet someone so got a taxi. The taxi driver turned round to me, apropos of nothing, and said “The day you get to do your hobby as a job is the last day’s work you’ll ever do”. I packed up my bags, moved back from Spain and became a photographer.
That’s incredible! My parents always say that to my brother and me and I think that it’s so true! What a taxi man! Do you specialise in children’s fashion or do you do other shoots?
About 70% of my work is kid’s fashion. The rest is food and still life.
What’s your working background?
I used to work in the drinks industry. My claim to fame is that I was the first person to import absinthe to the UK for 70 years. After that I moved to Spain for 6 years to detox! (And teach English). When I started photography I had no plans to be a children’s photographer, but I was then offered the chance to work full time for a year as the in-house photographer at Jojo Maman Bebe.
That’s brilliant!! I absolutely love Spain! My family live in the south so we call it our second home! What made you decide to go freelance?
I only planned to work with Jojo for a year, and by that time I was getting a reputation as a kids photographer, and I loved doing it, so it made sense really to go out on my own.
What childrenswear brands/stylists do you work with?
I work with a whole variety of brands ranging from large to small. My most regular clients include Hucklebones, Kite Kids, Skribbies, Travis designs & Poco Nido. They are all different and have very different ways of styling their shoots.
It’s great that you get to work with so many different brands! I absolutely love the photos you recently too for Skribbies using Soft Gallery and Scotch Shrunk! They’re fab! What’s been the most fun shoot you’ve worked on?
That’s a very difficult one to answer. That would be like choosing your favourite child! Every shoot is fun in different ways, and other than a few show-business parents, I’ve never had any problems.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on a shoot?
On my first shoot for Jojo Maman Bebe, we had to shoot in driving, horizontal rain and howling wind, with my assistant trying to hold the umbrella to the side of the children in a vain attempt to keep the children dry. The kids were amazing, however. They didn’t care about the weather at all.
What an experience! Have you travelled a lot with your work?
Most of my shoots are in the UK so if possible I go in my lovely campervan, Van Wonka. It makes it more like home when you are away for a week or so.
Van Wonka!! What a name! Where is the best place you’ve travelled to?
I love it when I’ve done shoots for Kite Kids. I get to go to Dorset. If I have a few days off, I go to the Isle of Purbeck in Van Wonka and stay near the most amazing pub, the Square and Compass. The views, the pasties, and the beer, are just amazing!
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I have just launched a range of children’s portrait sessions. Up until now I have only done fashion shoots for commercial clients but am often asked if I do children’s portraits. I wouldn’t know how to do the cheesy family photo style of shoot, but I can do fun, stylish fashion shoots. It just makes sense to do the portrait sessions in the same way.
That’s so exciting!! Is there a photographer you admire? Why?
Lee Miller, one of the great wartime photographers and one of the great photographers, full stop. What is even more remarkable is the fact that she was a woman on the front line. She started out as a model before moving into fashion and still life. She then worked for Vogue magazine during WWII. The photos she did in this time are just stunning and heart-breaking.
She sounds like a very brave individual! I need to check Lee Miller out! What advice would you give someone who is looking to get in to photography?
Being a great photographer and having a good eye for an image is not the most important thing you need to have. You need to understand how to be a business. Twitter, helps too! About half my work comes about because of Twitter.
Social Media is such a powerful source! We are always trying to express that to our brands!
Tom, thank you so much for being on CCT today! I think that your work is great and it has been great having you on the show!
If you’re looking to have a family portrait that isn’t cheesy or simply looking for a photographer – why not get in contact with Tom at www.photosbytomtom.com/portraitsbytomtom
Join me next week on CCT for lots more gossip and chinwagging! I hope that you all have an enjoyable week! Hugs and smacks Kate <3 xox
All pictures blong to www.tomleighton.co.uk