Croatian born portrait photographer Ines Banks grew up in the beautiful surroundings of Dubrovnik. But her journey into photography was in part due to meeting her husband. She says “my husband is a photographer so I learnt from him almost without meaning to”. Having worked as a fashion designer and a model in her early career, Ines had the creative eye when it came to people. Being in front of the camera most of her life helped her when she swapped to being behind the camera instead. Knowing how to pose or get the best out of people is one of the things that makes you a good photographer.
So when she and her husband opened up their first studio, she sort of fell into portrait photography. She says “I guess the fact that I was around the age when people I knew and their friends started to have children when the studio opened played a massive role in my genre of photography”.
Ines, where are you from?
I was born in the beautiful Croatian city of Dubrovnik. I woke up every morning to the most amazing view of the town and the sea. So I guess you can not help but be inspired to be creative if you grow up somewhere like this.
Where do you currently live?
I now live in England just outside London in Berkshire.
What genre of photography do you specialise in?
My work now is now mainly portraits. Specialising in newborn, maternity, children and family photography.
Describe your style of photography?
I would describe my style as natural and timeless I guess. There is nothing better than capturing “that” image that will end up on someone’s wall, printed and mounted, for them and everyone else to look at for years to come. Although I use the studio for most of my newborn sessions, I do love to capture “these moments” in a person’s natural surroundings. So I would also say that my style is reportage as well as I like to document the client and their baby’s first days.
What are you working on at the moment?
Nothing specific at the moment but I do have a few new projects that I’m getting excited about. I have two young children so as a working mum I don’t have much time to grow my business to the point I want it to be. I’m quite happy where I am for the time being photographing a select number of existing clients and a few new ones.
What is your next project or assignment?
Due to the nature of what I do, my work tends to be reactive. For example at the time of this interview, I have a set of newborn twins coming into the studio which should be good fun. I would, however, like to extend my business into self-branding. This is something I did for a few of my clients recently who are mostly working mums. I help them get their self-confidence by taking beautiful images of them and helping them to grow their ideas and businesses further.
Are there any photographers whose work/style you admire?
I love the work of some of the old masters like Steve McCurry, Ron Haviv and Peter Adams. Their work is timeless and has inspired me on my journey.
What is your favourite memory of your experiences?
I love photographing babies so naturally, all the newborn shoots tend to be special. I don’t think there’s anything cuter than a tiny little human.
What’s the biggest photographic challenge you overcame?
Oh, without a doubt that has got to be screaming children. Trying to calm a screaming baby so that you can capture candid photos can be a challenge sometimes. But you can never really know what to expect so you have to be able to adapt to the situation. My favourite email was from one of my clients asking when can her kids go back and take more photos with “that crazy lady”. I guess I delivered.
What’s in your camera bag?
My main cameras are the Nikon D700 and D3X. They are pretty old now but I love the tones they produce so I keep them around. I pair these with Nikon 35mm f2, 50mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4 lenses. I have recently upgraded to a Sony A7iii with 24-70mm f2.8 lens, 70-200mm f4 lens and 55mm f1.8 Zeiss lens.
What photographic equipment would you never leave home without?
Without a doubt that would have to be Nikon D700 and 50mm lens. It’s a great combination. Although I just used Nikon D850 on my latest shoot so I might have to convert.
What advice you would give anyone who is starting out?
Unfortunately, these days business skills are about as important as photography skills in order to run a successful and profitable studio. So if you are not business savvy try to learn more about that side of things. Good marketing and social networking can get you a few steps ahead of your competitors.
Any pitfalls they should avoid?
I find a lot of new photographers focus too much on equipment. Good glass will no doubt help but you can create a very good studio set up for less than you might think. So don’t get into the habit of trying to purchase the latest stuff. Start with what you can afford and absolutely need and grow from there. Becoming a great photographer takes time and you will make a few mistakes along the way. As long as your clients are aware you are a “newbie” you should be fine. Pretending you can do some shoots when you can’t will only bring misery, not just to you but for the expecting customer as well. Do not overthink and make sure you do your research.
Lastly… if you weren’t a photographer what would you be doing?
Interesting question. I’d say probably a fashion or interior designer. Before I met my husband I was designing pieces for a number of fashion houses and names in Croatia. I still make my kids clothes as we speak and stitch anything around the house. Design and interiors are my hobbies now but they are definitely something I would love to include in my future photography. So watch this space!
To see more of Ines’ work or book a shoot visit www.inesbphoto.com
All images by Ines Banks. All rights reserved. No usage anywhere online or in print without permission.
Interview by Kav Dadfar.