Back in 2003 when I was studying photography at LCP I was lucky enough to be taught by a very brilliant photographer called Paul Smith. His knowledge of lighting was impeccable and he would spend hours in the studio patiently trying to explain lighting techniques that would inevitably get totally lost and misunderstood inside my poor non-technical brain.
One day Paul’s son, also a photographer, came in to give us eager students an insight into the world of a successful commercial photographer. As Dan Tobin Smith stood up in front of us and showed us his portfolio I could see immediately that Paul had had a massive influence on his son’s work.
So how nice it was last week then to see that knowledge being passed down again when photographer Kate Jackling popped in to see me with her stunning portfolio. Having assisted Dan Tobin Smith for the best part of eight years, Kate's time with Dan has clearly been a very valuable apprenticeship, as Kate’s book is one of the most established I have ever encountered for someone who stopped assisting just last April.
In fact so impressive is Kate's work that D and V Management, who represent the likes of Jacob Sutton, signed Kate to their roster on what turned out to be the very last day Kate ever worked as an assistant for Dan.
Referencing Erwin Blumenfeld and the Bauhaus Movement as influences in her work, Kate has turned the technical knowledge she learnt from Dan and created a whole new style of her own, contemporary but with a healthy nod to the past and more traditional techniques. We start by going through her ‘Fifty Fifty’ project, a series on Botanics using natural elements shot in a controlled environment. Kate shot this project with a mirror that she lit in such a way in order to cast a silhouette which starts to reveal what is behind the glass. Kate also cleverly created all of the sets in this series herself, with her work for this series shot on 5 x 4.
The second project in her portfolio is called Chiyogami. Chiyogami is a beautiful Japanese screen printed paper based on kimono patterns. Again Kate created all the sets herself and took inspiration for this project from ‘Jiro Dreams Of Sushi’, a film about the 85 year old Michelin star sushi master with a restaurant in a Japanese subway that seats ten people. Jiro’s whole life celebrates the art of simplicity and, for Kate, Jiro is the best example of someone living simply, working hard with good quality materials, a simple work ethic to live by.
Editorials for Salt, Twin, Vanity Fair, Port Magazine, Hole & Corner, Another Magazine, Wallpaper*, NY Times, Telegraph, Printed Pages and clients including Jo Malone, Smythson, Sunspel, Stella McCartney, Cos and Pringle have kept Kate busy for the last year or so. When she is not creating sets herself she works with set designers Annette Masterman, Lightning and Kinglyface, Hana al Sayed and Gemma Tickle, a good friend from their days assisting Dan Tobin Smith and set designer Rachel Thomas respectively. Shooting for Burberry this week and with a story for Hole & Corner in the pipeline, Kate is also working on her first book and plans to take some time out to work on more personal project with set designer Hana al Sayed over the next couple of months.
Kate’s personal work, an exploration and reimagination of textures, reflections, sculptures, refractions, shape and light has taken all the influences of Jiro, Dan Tobin Smith and I like to think my old tutor Paul Smith too and has created elegant images in her own very unique and contemporary way. Jiro dreams of sushi. Kate dreams of still life simplicity.
Kate Jackling is represented globally by D and V Management.