By Liamann & Jeila
“She was in awe of all his work. ‘How do you do it?” she asked.
He smiled and said, ‘By loving you.”
― Kamand Kojouri
Love is hard to put into words. It cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart. This time I am going to write about an extra-ordinary fashion-photographer and model couple that breathes in and breathes out only love. The photography of this couple has captured all fashion and art lovers’ hearts. In each photo there is a different story. It’s like each photo is alive and they are whispering to you the stories behind the pictures.
Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Luke and Mandy. They are not just a loving husband and wife team. Other than being soulmates, they are work mates as well. And the strength of their love transmits into their work and voila you can see the most amazing, natural and just breathtaking pictures.
The most amazing part of writing is that every time I write about something or somebody I am being the first witness of their feelings while they are talking about their life stories. I can see the changing emotions on their faces and that inspires me so much to write that my hands are itching just to turn all of these into flowing words. That was what happened to me when my eyes first caught a glance of Luke and Mandy’s photography. And since then I have been mesmerised by the art of Luke & Mandy and was just so eager to write about them. So when I had a chance to talk to them, to say that I was thrilled would be understatement. When I first met them he was taking only her pictures and she was, no doubt, the only muse for him.
So who are Luke and Mandy?
Luke Woodford is an Eastbourne, England born fashion-photographer and Mandy Woodford is a model that was born in Zimbabwe and moved to Eastbourne when she was 3. I interviewed both of them together and separately. And now you can all know the story behind Luke and Mandy and witness their huge love to each other.
Questions to Luke Woodford
1) Were you involved in art since you were a child? How did you start photography?
I wasn’t really in art at all, I mean I liked it at school but who didn’t? I actually started photography as a business idea with portraits and weddings. I was attracted to the lack of overheads and high profits. This was in the summer of 2008. I think I fell in love with it though pretty much as soon as my DSLR arrived and I quickly started experimenting with street and fashion photography.
2) Do you remember your first picture that you photographed?
I think the first thing I photographed was the local harbour area in my town, Eastbourne. At the time I thought the photos were pretty good, but I remember looking back on them a few years ago and thinking they were terrible.
3) What do you like to photograph most? What themes do you pursue?
My absolute favourite thing to photograph is Mandy in amazing locations. Either abandoned or just simply beautiful. Photographing her in Iceland was one of my favourite experiences. There is a lot of stress when photographing in abandoned places, sometimes it’s just nice to shoot in peace!
4) How did you decide to mix painting with photography?
I was involved in an exhibition in Brighton, England a few years ago. I became friends with an amazing artist there – Jakob Belbin. I just loved his works and whilst I was looking at one of his pieces the idea literally just came to me. At the time I hadn’t seen it done before. I see it often these days. I know I wasn’t the first but I’m not someone who constantly looks at work for inspiration, I like my ideas to come completely from my own head as much as possible.
5) How do you work?
There is nothing luxurious about the art we create usually, as long as I have Mandy and my camera that’s all I need. We usually eat after the shoot is finished. If it’s freezing conditions we try and take hot water for Mandy to drink to keep her warm.
6) What camera do you shoot with and how many people do you have in your team?
I currently use a Nikon D750 with Zeiss lenses. Zeiss produce the best lenses in the world and I wouldn’t be without them.
Mandy and I are the core team. We do all the preparation and editing on the photos. When we do big shoots we quite often have friends, makeup artists and hair stylists.
7) Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
The best example I can give of that would probably be the short film we did ‘Broken’. Mandy and I both suffer with depression and that concept stems from that. The story is of a girl, lost in a world she doesn’t relate to, broken. We have still images of this on our website too.
8) Is there a song that inspires you?
I don’t think a song has ever inspired me to make photographs but I was brought up on hip-hop. That whole genre inspired me to hustle. It also had a negative affect as well, but it was an intricate part into making me who I am today.
9) What are the differences between the inspired you and uninspired you?
I am pretty much always inspired. I see a lot of people have mental blocks when I can honestly say that I have always had lots of concepts lined up that I want to shoot, I have never run out. I am a deep thinker and they often come to me at completely random times.
10) It is very unusual thing when a mother-in-law is involved in your art. What does it feel like? Does she go with you when you travel?
It’s fantastic to have her involved. I am a family person and I love that we can all get creative together. It’s a beautiful thing, it means the world to me. Kate doesn’t come on shoots because they are usually in a different country, it’s not practical but she is involved in the planning stages of some of the shoots.
11) Name the photographers you’d like to be compared to
There aren’t any. I don’t want to be compared to anyone, I think if you want to be compared to people then you aren’t aiming to be yourself. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t want to be seen as ‘as good’ as a photographer like Tim Walker or Nick Knight but not compared. I’m me, I always will be.
12) How di you meet each other?
We met in a local bar in my town a very long time ago. I’d always been attracted to Mandy, but things weren’t right in our lives to be together. Luckily the stars aligned 3 years ago. We went on a date and never looked back.
13) What were your first thoughts about Mandy when you met her? Did you feel like she was the one, your muse? Because in each of your photos we can feel your love towards her.
I just knew that she was a beautiful soul. As soon as I went on our first date I knew I was going to marry her. I”d actually planned how I was going to propose to her within 6 months. Mandy became my muse in the first few weeks of being together. I just photographed her and it was the most beautiful experience. Our photographic journey just naturally evolved into what it is today.
14) Since we know that, well we (people) believe that artistic life is lonely. Was it like that until you met Mandy? What is the most thing that has changed after you met Mandy? (In your life and art)
Life was very lonely before Mandy. I surrounded myself with people, friends, but work life was very, very lonely. Also none of my friends at that point were artistic so I felt I couldn’t talk to them about what I do. They would listen because they are nice people but I know they weren’t really interested. One of the most amazing things about the journey that we are on is just sharing every bit of this creative life with someone.
16) How would you describe Mandy in 5 words?
Mandy in 5 words- 5 isn’t enough. Mandy is just simple the most beautiful soul I have ever met. I can go on forever about how amazing she is. I swear she isn’t from this planet.
17) Since you are travelling a lot, name please favourite or most inspirational place? (Question to both of you)
Luke: I’d probably say Iceland, the scenery is out of this world. If you travel for 30 minutes it feels like you have seen 5 different countries. We also always very extra inspired when we are in Athens, it’s our favourite city in the world.
Mandy: I would say Athens, whenever we are there we are always in the mood to go out and create and we don’t get that with other places, the fact that it’s generally warm helps.
18) What is your favourite art work?
The painting of an elephant on my wall by my mother in law – Kate Conway.
19) What was your inspiration before Mandy? What did you photograph mostly?
I have never had a specific form of inspiration, ideas just come to me and random times. Before Mandy I focused on fashion shoots in abandoned buildings.
20) Do you have any extra pictures you don’t want?
I don’t love every shoot we create. I love most but we shoot so much and things don’t always go to plan but thats’ part of the journey and you just have to keep going and keep learning.
21) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I don’t know, I have never really been given much advice to be honest but a couple of years ago i was going through a frustrating period, I was battling a lot within myself and my work. It led to me not being my true self. I was talking to someone about my work and I was being very arrogant. They pulled me up on it and it really made me realise that I hadn’t liked the person I had become. Some times it’s hard to stay yourself, it’s a hard industry. These days I am in a much better place and every day I feel truly grateful for everything I have.
22) What is your dream project?
I’m not sure, I have millions of things I’d like to do but photographing Mandy with animals in Africa would be a big one. She is from Zimbabwe, so it would be a very personal experience and I think it would just be incredible.
23) What is marriage for you? (Question to both of you)
Luke: Marriage for me is life, just everything. I am committed until we are dead. It’s that simple.
Mandy: Marriage to me is a perfectly natural place to be.
Questions to Mandy:
24) Mandy, being a beautiful girl, woman is a wonderful thing. But how does it feel when you are the one and only muse for a photographer?
It’s very special. What girl wouldn’t want to be somebody’s muse?! The fact that my husband finds me that inspiring is so flattering and beautiful.
25) Have you had modelling experiencing before? If yes, please talk about it. How did you get started and who was your role model as a child and how did that help in being a model?
Photography was actually my first love, that’s what made me want to try being on the other side of the camera. Before I met Luke, I had done a few modelling things here and there, but he was really the one who encouraged me to make it my career. I’ve never had a role model… I’ve always taken inspiration from different people, places and experiences, but I could never model myself around anybody.
26) What do you think what are the differences with being a fashion model and an artistic model?
Fashion modelling is like my alter-ego. I go into a different zone. I become the person who would really wear those clothes, not just Mandy in a different outfit. On artistic or conceptual shoots I am myself. You’re really trying to make the viewer feel something, and I think the best way to do that is to bring up my own genuine emotion.
27) Which one thrills you most?
I’d have to say fashion
28) How did Luke propose you? (If it’s not personal 🙂 )
He took me to my home country, Zimbabwe, and proposed whilst in a safari in Victoria Falls. It was a beautiful day!
29) What were your first thoughts about Luke? What were your feelings about his art?
I was always a big fan of his, even before we got together. He was one of the most talented photographers I’d ever seen.
30) How did you feel when you did your first photo shooting with Luke?
Both excited and very nervous. I had admired his work for years so when we eventually arranged a photoshoot it was a big deal for me. I always had a feeling we would work well together but I knew he was selective about his models so I felt like it was my chance to prove myself to him. I guess it worked (Laughs).
31) What is your favourite picture of yourself taken by Luke?
That’s a really hard question as it changes all the time. There is a picture that I have always loved, I think because it was taken in such a beautiful moment. It had just been raining and the sun came out creating the stunning light. It was just the two of us outside and everything felt still and peaceful.
32) Does photographer Luke differs a lot than just your husband Luke?
Photographer Luke is far more serious and professional. He knows how to push me to my limits in order to get the best shot. He can boss me around in a way that husband Luke would never get away with lol.
33) What is like to be married with a photographer? Is it difficult? What are the perks of being married to a photographer?
I can’t imagine myself being with anyone different. We both love creating art so it just works.
34) How would you describe Luke in 5 words?
Creative, intelligent, open, excitable, caring.
35) In each of your photo shooting, and your travel you are wearing different and very beautiful clothes, dresses. How do you manage this? Who decides for the designs?
We both decide on choosing the right garments for our shoots. Sometimes we will contact designers we want to work with and other times they will reach out to us, but Luke and I always go through everything together and make sure we both love what we’re shouting.
36) Mandy, since your husband is a mighty photographer, do you know how to take pictures? Would you like to be behind the lens, instead of being on the other side of the camera? And who and what would you like to photograph?
Yes definitely, I’ve always loved taking pictures. I did a photography course in college and it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do more of but the modelling just took over. This year I’m planning to get back into it and build up a portfolio.
Really anything, there’s a lot that I want to do. I love to photograph people so I’m mostly drawn to street and portrait photography
37) Who is your favourite designer? What is your favourite brand?
I recently discovered an Australian label called Asilio, which I’ve fallen in love with. I’ve never really had a favourite designer or brand though, I just like what I like.
38) Mandy, our female readers would like to know about your beauty secrets. What are some of your beauty tips?
I would just say remember that less is more. Use makeup to enhance your natural beauty, not change your face entirely. Beauty comes first from within, so look after your mind and body and the rest will follow. Eat healthy, do things that make you happy. Other than that, wash your face twice a day and drink LOTS of water!
38) If a young girl/boy wanted to be a model what would your advice for them be?
Be sure it’s what you want to do and don’t give up. It’s not easy and you have to be able to handle rejection and face enormous competition. I wouldn’t say it’s the kind of career to enter light heartedly.