Not all street style shots are created equal. Having the high-tech equipment and knowing where to find your stylish subjects are part of the equation, but composing and capturing those (seemingly) effortless, candid moments is where the true challenge lies. April Cartwright and Jackielyn Powell are two long-time friends from the NSW central coast who saw the street style out there and decided they could do better.
“I was thinking there wasn’t too many people other than the Tommy Tons and Phil Ohs doing street style that was really beautiful,” says April, who worked in styling at Instyle and Harper’s BAZAAR before deciding to go freelance. Meanwhile, Jac had been juggling primary school teaching with her photography projects. Jac recalls she and April simultaneously found themselves at a career crossroads.
“We were both doing creative things and both on the central coast,” Jac remembers. “And both trying to work out what we wanted to do.”
So the pair decided to join forces to create digital platform Sea Sea Love Land, a venture they describe as a ‘creative collaboration’ where their main focus is shooting beautiful, high-quality street style. When it comes to shooting events, the pair attribute their clearly defined roles and meticulous post-production editing to getting their images just right.
Having covered this year’s MBFWA (which we ran right here on Collective Hub), the duo is now gearing up to cover New Zealand Fashion Week and the street style hub that is Splendour in the Grass. We sat down to grill them on breaking into the fashion industry and their journey so far.
Working as a team sets you apart from most street style photographers. How does that work exactly?
Jac: There’s the aesthetic that we want to bring across, but April has that interest in fashion and wanting to know where people got all their amazing stuff from, so she is naturally inclined to ask. That’s where she asks and gets all her information and I take the imagery.
April: I love street style, there’s so much inspiration in it and people can access it. I said to Jackie, there’s definitely a [gap] we can fill where we can get the [shot] and [find out] what they’re wearing. Then it becomes more valuable because people know where they can buy the pieces.
Jac: They’re the things that set us apart. We have a genuine interest in what they’re actually wearing [and] we want to create beautiful imagery. For us it’s not about getting that photo out first, we don’t care [about being] the first, we care [about] have[ing] the nicest looking image and quality content. It has to have something more to it than just a pretty picture.
Who else in the industry inspires you?
Jac: My number one person who inspires me would be… Oh gosh, I’m having a meltdown.
April: Okay I’ll go! I think for street style I love what Tommy Ton and Phil Oh do. I love the free-flowing movement in the photos. I think for my fashion and styling… I love Margaret Zhang. I like that sort of casual-cool look. She doesn’t have makeup slapped on – it’s quite minimal.
Jac: My biggest inspiration would be Luisa Brimble. [Hers] was probably one of the first photographer’s images I looked at and felt really moved by. She’s got a really wholesome and honest approach and captures things so candidly and beautifully.
What would you say holds people back in the industry?
Jac: I feel like the time is there, we all have the same amount of time to do whatever we want in the day, so it’s up to us to utilise that time. I think that it’s your own personal self-beliefs that limit you. It’s [having] the hustle, you need to freaking hustle your arse off. Put yourself out there and call people and show them your work. I get emails from people who are like “You got your stuff here or there, how’d you do that?” And I’m like, well, no one told us, it’s just using your own initiative to go, “I want to be a part of that, so I’m going to call them.”
So the only thing holding you back is… you?
April: Yeah! And people get one ‘no’ answer and stop, whereas we’ll keep going.
Jac: They’ll send an email and won’t hear back. And it’s like, well, you pick up the phone and you call. The worst that’s going to happen is that they think you’re annoying [laughs].
April: But then on the other hand, you might get a nice result.
Jac: Exactly, so what have you got to lose? You’ve just got to accept that hustle is hard work. And you’re going to feel uncomfortable and awkward about it but once you get past that first thing… it’s easy from there.
What has been a highlight since starting Sea Sea Love Land?
Jac: So many things! Getting to know April more and doing creative stuff with her.
April: I think coming together and having such a strong passion. It’s refreshing for me to have someone who has that same passion to do something creative, [who doesn’t let] you down unless there’s a real purpose.
Jac: Unless I’m on my deathbed [laughs]. I think that’s the same with both of us. If we say we’re going to do something then generally it’ll happen. I think there’s a general expectation [between us] that we’re both pretty hard-working as well. We’re both at that same level. There’s nothing that’s come up that has disappointed me or made me think otherwise. I think being a little bit older [means] we have our minds focused on getting amongst it and getting it done.