Commercial Photography graduate opens new Plymouth studio
Originally from Portsmouth, Selina Hall graduated in 2020 with a BA (Hons) in Commercial Photography for Fashion, Advertising & Editorial. Deciding to stay in the city and open her own portrait studio on Mutley Plain in Plymouth, Selina tells us about setting up her business and how her studies helped her focus on what she loves most.
Hi Selina, can you tell us about yourself?
I am originally from Portsmouth. I moved down here to attend Arts University Plymouth and then ended up staying as I love the city so much. I graduated in 2020 and decided to stay because I fell in love with the city.
What inspired you to open your own studio?
Photography stole my heart from a young age and has always been a love of mine. Not only is it something I love, but it’s something that I am good at. Throughout my time studying, I got the chance to experiment with lots of different techniques, which helped me to focus on where my strengths were.
I have always wanted to have my own studio. Even before I graduated I knew this was a route I was interested in. Unfortunately, because of COVID, it never felt like the right time. I have done other types of photography, for example, weddings and freelance work, and although I really enjoy them, portraits are where my heart lies. Now the time is right at last and I am so excited that it can go ahead.
What made you want to specialise in portrait photography?
I love doing weddings and events but it is portraiture that I really love most. It is a great opportunity to enjoy working with people and getting to know them. You can really do that when you have a portrait session with someone. Photographing someone is a special way of connecting.
What makes a good portrait photographer?
I think getting to know your subject is so important. I love talking to them and finding out who they are. For example, when people are really chatty and outgoing, I like to convey that in their portraits. I love finding out about people and bringing that out in the portraits I take.
Photography by Selina Hall
What subjects do you enjoy shooting the most?
Newborn! I love it, it’s just so adorable, I don’t know how else to explain! There are also so many different ways to do it. I especially like getting to know new parents, it’s such a unique and special time in their life and it feels like a privilege to share that with them.
For example, I recently did a newborn shoot where I spent a while talking to the dad and found out he was really into cars. I made sure I incorporated this into the shoot as I knew he would love it. I enjoy being able to make my work personal in that way.
Photography by Selina Hall
How would you describe your style?
I would describe my style as very real. I have always stood by low-retouching. I want people to see what I see through the lens. For me it shows the real person, flaws are beautiful and individual and are what make us all unique. I like my work to celebrate that.
How did your degree prepare you for opening your own studio?
I think it prepared me by helping me find my style. I got the chance to try so many different things. Importantly I learned what I didn’t want to do, which helped me learn what I DID want to do! Through experimentation I found that I definitely didn’t want to do product photography, advertising or landscapes. It also gave me a good grounding in technology and equipment, which is vital. I learned as I progressed through the course, allowing me to develop and it shaped my creative practice perfectly.
The staff members offered great guidance. Gemma Pope in particular was so helpful to me all the way through my course. She offered me one-to-one support and believed in me and my work, which was amazing. I still contact her now for guidance and advice.
What advice would you give anyone considering studying a creative subject?
It is seen as a risk by so many people, but my opinion is, just go for it! It is great to be a jack-of-all-trades, knowing a little bit about everything, but it’s worthwhile if you make the effort to find your niche and search for what really motivates you to want to create.
Photography by Selina Hall
What attracted you to Arts University Plymouth?
I initially looked at universities all over the country. I knew that I definitely wanted an arts specialist university and wanted to be surrounded by people studying creative subjects. I considered some of the larger London arts universities, but they didn’t offer anything that was different from what was on offer at Arts University Plymouth and I was put off by the size. It was really important for me to be able to collaborate with students from different disciplines. That combined with the small, intimate size here, meant that Plymouth won.
What advice would you give to students currently graduating?
Times have been hard in the last few years and Covid has made it even more difficult. Give yourself time to find what you are good at and what you love. Remain true to yourself and what drives you and you will find your place!
You can find Selina’s new studio online at selinasstudios.com and look out for the grand opening of her studio in Mutley Plain, Plymouth, in July and August 2022. To find out more about studying BA (Hons) Commercial Photography and our other creative degrees, visit an Open Day to tour our studios and speak directly to our industry-leading lecturers.