Catherine Garcia is a British photographer who we commissioned to do our headshot photography for the new London House brand. Her work focuses on documenting and celebrating the simple, authentic beauty of people and places.
Working with natural and available light, and instinctively graphic compositions, Catherine’s approach is to embrace spontaneity, and the ever-changing conditions of a day are welcome and key. Her aim is to tell stories in a natural, intimate, and strikingly stripped-back way.
Catherine, has an evident penchant for portrait photography, something she’s revealed over the years with her stripped-down and undeniably powerful depictions of some of London’s pioneering minds in the fields of art, photography, design, fashion, film, music and more. We sit with her to gain some insight to her career, what inspires her and to discover her ‘London’.
Can you tell us a bit about how you became a photographer?
I studied Graphic Design at the University of Brighton before moving to London. I worked at a design agency for six years as a designer and in-house photographer before going freelance as a photographer. I’ve always loved photography and was drawn to it initially I think from my mum’s love of photography, and family photo albums.
How do you describe your photography to someone who’s not familiar with it?
I would say it’s about people and places. With portraits, for me, it’s about meeting people, listening to their stories, and trying to capture a sense of them, and how it felt to spend time with them. Similarly, with places, it’s about noticing the little details as well as the bigger picture and capturing an image that gives a sense of a story. I hope that my love of nature comes through in my work.
What important artists/photographers would you list as influencers or inspirations?
There are so many and I’m always learning more, so the list is long and varied, and always growing. I’ve been really moved by the work of many of the Magnum photographers, including Paolo Pellegrin, Trent Parke and Christopher Anderson. I love the soulful portraits of Paolo Roversi and the work of Chris Killip. I also love cinematography, music, learning about nature, they’re all strong inspirations.
What has been a career highlight for you so far?
I think bringing my first book ‘Our Time’ out in 2014, it was a personal series that I photographed 60 people for, so the process of getting to photograph with them, to build a personal series, and learning so much about the process of making a book.
You’ve done some powerful portraits in the past: I’m thinking of Fran Hickman, Richard Madden, Charlie Casely-Hayford... what’s your working process like? How do you make the moment happen where they seem honest and real?
Thank you. I love to work in a very stripped-back way, with natural light and small amount of favourite equipment, so the set-up is really simple and the focus is on them. Listening to their stories and capturing moments from our time spent together in a simple, honest, engaged way, I hope that comes across in the images.
Can you please tell us a little bit more about your ongoing personal series ‘Our Time’?
Yes, ‘Our Time’ is a personal series, it’s about photographing creative people in locations that are personal and meaningful to them. I’ve been photographing for the series since 2012, with the first book of 60 creatives coming out in 2014. I recently decided to pick the series up again and started photographing for series 2 in the summer of 2021. There’s a website for the new series to live and grow, which I’m excited to build over time, the site is onceuponourtime.co if you’ve time to have a look, it’s a playful site to navigate and hope you enjoy having a look through the photo stories there.
You are lucky enough to work in London, one of the worlds creative capitals. What is your favourite thing about working in London?
Sensing the history of the place.
Your favourite London Restaurant? Mildreds, Soho
Your favourite London Art Gallery? The National Portrait Gallery
Your favourite shop in London? Liberty
Your favourite area in London? Richmond Park