Atia’s photography brings colour and creative living together in a fresh and unique way. She writes about a broad range of lifestyle and contemporary crafts including knitting, dressmaking, home styling and gardening – all captured with her Olympus PEN
Why/how did you get into photography?
I’ve been interested in photography for about 15 years now, starting off with street photography. I bought a digital SLR on a trip to New York and started shooting portraits and landscapes, moving on to macro when I became interested in flower photography. I also invested in a magazine subscription which taught me lots of tips and skills.
How did you become an Olympus photographer?
As I mostly shoot for Instagram these days, I was looking for a lightweight camera with good connectivity to improve my workflow. I didn’t want to compromise on quality with a point and shoot, having been disappointed in the past but find a digital SLR cumbersome to carry. The Olympus PEN E-PL8 was the ideal choice, offering quality and flexibility, and is beautiful to look at too. Since then I have upgraded to an E-PL9 camera and have added a couple more lenses to my collection.
What subject do you most often take photos of?
As a maker and content creator, I often take images of things I am making. This also often involves portrait photography including self-portraits, so the remote control in the OI Share app is essential for me. In addition, I enjoy floral photography, whether that is in the garden or still life flower arrangements.
How often do you take pictures?
I take pictures most days, but it varies from week to week. Sometimes I will shoot lots of images in a short space of time, for example in the garden, and this will give me a set of images I can use for my content creation over several weeks. I’m always looking out for interesting pictures to take, whether it is on walks around my neighbourhood or further afield.
What’s in your camera bag?
I have a very light kit bag! I usually carry my Olympus PEN E-PL9 and a spare battery. I most often use a 17mm F1.8 lens as I find this most versatile but occasionally swap this for a 45mm F1.8 lens or the kit lens for more flexibility. At this stage, I don’t need much more than that. I shoot all my pictures using natural light.
What kit’s essential for your preferred genre, other than cameras and lenses?
I definitely need to use a tripod for self portraits. I love the timer and remote control on the Olympus Image share app, which make it really easy to check before taking a photograph. It’s so useful to be able to immediately view images and then transfer them directly to my phone for editing and sharing on social media.
What keeps you busy, other than photography?
I work part time as a doctor, and also have three young children who keep me busy. My main passion outside of work is in crafts including dressmaking and knitting, and I also love interior design and travel.
Do you shoot in Raw or JPEG? (and did you change – and why?)
I always shoot in JPEG. It has never really been necessary for me to shoot in RAW as my editing is usually done using a smartphone app or software such as Photoshop Elements.
How do you know when one of your images is good – what do you look for?
My signature style is saturated and bright without being garish or harsh. I am quite particular about the composition of my pictures these days and will reshoot a flat-lay or portrait multiple times until it looks right to me. There isn’t always something particular I’m looking for, sometimes it just feels right!
What’s your workflow like?
Currently I use a really simple workflow as I like to keep the process stress free and enjoyable. I don’t really enjoy spending hours on editing and it’s not usually necessary for images that will be seen on a small screen. I usually use Image Share to transfer the picture to my smartphone. I will then edit using an app if needed, most commonly Color Story or Retouch. I then edit the photo again in Instagram, cropping if necessary. For my website, I will send photos to Dropbox and then edit using Photoshop Elements.
How much editing do you do after you’ve taken your photographs?
I try and ensure I am happy with the brightness and composition when I take the photos so that there is minimal editing to do afterwards. My editing is usually just to adjust brightness and contrast, with some cropping as necessary.
What do you do with your photos once they’re finished?
Most of my photographs are destined for Instagram at the moment, which is where the majority of my audience sees my work. I also have a website http://www.thebrightblooms.com which acts as a showcase of my work and a place to share projects in more detail.
What’s the best feature of Olympus kit?
I love using my Olympus PEN because it is practical yet stylish and easy to use. I never have to worry about fitting in my camera or carrying it around on a long day as it’s so lightweight!
What’s the most useful piece of photography advice you’ve ever heard?
Being aware of how your camera is aligned, so making sure it is perfectly perpendicular to your subject. It sounds obvious, but this hugely improved my photographs initially once I realised that I was often taking photos at an angle and skewing the perspective. I learned a lot when I did a course with Emily Quinton a few years ago, through her business Makelight.
Who or what inspires you?
I am hugely inspired by colour, design and pattern, and a lot of my photography is inspired by London scenes, travel and nature. I am also really inspired by creatives on Instagram, including photographers, illustrators and makers. Instagram is a real community and I have made many friends on there who are incredibly supportive.
Aside from photography, what do you wish you were really good at?
I wish I had more business sense! I would love to start a creative business one day, but have no idea where to start at the moment.
If you could only have one lens on your camera, which would it be?
Definitely the 17mm F1.8: it’s the lens I use most often and is useful for the majority of my pictures.
What’s next on your wishlist, kit-wise?
I’d like to try the 12-40mm F2.8 PRO for more flexibility and a wider angle so I can take better interior shots in low light conditions. I’d also consider the 12mm F2 which looks like a great prime lens.
Can you point us at another Olympus-using photographer who deserves more of a spotlight (and tell us why?)
Sophie @theprettiestposy uses her Olympus for beautifully styled floral photography.