Soft Touch: The Fashion Photography of Rosie Woods

Natural light, the Pre-Raphaelites and images of romantic femininity: all are influences for emerging fashion photographer Rosie Woods

Feature by Morgan McTiernan | 09 Feb 2015

Having graduated from Manchester School of Art with a BA in photography last summer, Rosie Woods, online editor at Ballad Of magazine, is noted as one of the most up-and-coming photographers in Manchester. Known for her light touch, she describes her work as, "soft, feminine and subtle."

“I think I left school like every other 16-year-old, completely confused with what I wanted to study and eventually do as a job," she says. "I ended up mindlessly picking up a small photography course having never owned a camera and quickly became fully immersed in it. I enrolled onto a full-time photographic course at an arts school in the city I’m originally from, Hull, and have been studying and working with photography for the last seven years now.”

When it comes to the idea behind a fashion image and what makes it successful, Woods explains that, in her eyes, the image must have "originality and personality" – something that is certainly seen throughout her work.

Now 22, Woods moved to Manchester three years ago, which allowed her to surround herself with – and become part of – the flourishing creative community. "Living in such a creative city with lots of like-minded people creates a bit of healthy competition, which is always good for getting me motivated," she says. "It also means I've had the chance to work with so many lovely, talented teams of people who have helped shape my entire portfolio."

Having graduated just five months ago, the emergent young photographer is still learning and developing her style – however, she has already had editorials published in extremely highly regarded magazines such as Girls on Film, Ballad Of, As You Are and Zeum, to name only a few. She also recently shot the lookbook for Manchester-based accessory designer Rianna Phillips, who makes luxury digitally printed accessories. She also shot designer (and Skinny favourite) Ellie Rousseau's graduate men's collection – a combination of striking street and sportswear with an unexpected feminine twist.

It seems that Woods has found her own distinctively individual aesthetic, which allows her to stand out. Describing her work, she says that it "definitely encompasses the theme of femininity," and she has found further motivation for her chosen career in the work of Paolo Roversi, Sarah Moon, David Hamilton and Deborah Turbeville. "These are the ones who from the very beginning have been a huge source of inspiration and still are today.”

Inspiration also comes from the Pre-Raphaelite art movement, which began in the late 1840s and included such artists as Millais and Rossetti, and which was known for its fine detail, intense colours and complex compositions as well as its highly romantic depiction of women.

Woods also cites influences in the "softness and tones found in Pictorialism." This aesthetic movement – where the photograph usually lacked a sharp focus and the photographer would 'create' an image rather than solely record it – dominated photography in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Woods mainly uses outdoor locations in her work, utilising the natural light to create beautiful, delicate and captivating images.

The titles of her editorials show these artistic and romantic roots, with headlines such as Age of Enlightenment, Tender, Into the Grey and Rust and Stardust. Age of Enlightenment, which featured on Bricks magazine, shows a young woman with pink hair wearing pastel shades, with a blurred garden as the backdrop. This image seems to invite the viewer into Woods' own idea of fairyland. A love heart is drawn on the model's face against a sorbet-pink eyeshadow; she has been captured flirtatiously smiling, looking both girly and cheeky. This softness of touch and colour palette runs through Woods' portfolio.

While discussing inspirational fashion, Woods mentions Meadham Kirchhoff and Margaret Howell as designers she would like to work with: "Their pieces are 
always so fun and cute so working with them would be amazing." 

Ballad Of magazine, where Woods is currently online editor, has been running since 2008 and aims to create a platform that celebrates creative talent from around the world. “I’ve been working with Ballad Of for almost a year now, and it’s been great!" Woods says. "My role with them gives me the opportunity to scope out tons of new, emerging photographic talent and speak to so many creative people. I write weekly articles on the website about someone whose work has caught my eye and I get to pick their mind about their work and inspiration.” The magazine is available to view online as well as being in print bi-annually. As well as writing for Ballad Of, Woods also has her own photography work published within it. 

When asked about her biggest achievement in photography so far, Woods says, "I wouldn't say there is one big achievement which I look most fondly upon, more like lots of things combined." Having only just started her career her future plans are still in the works. She explains, "Having graduated just a few months ago, it's nice to be just making work for myself at the moment and taking every day as it comes. I’d eventually like to do some travelling and live outside of the UK for a few years."

We definitely can't wait to see what the future holds for Rosie Woods.

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Ellie Rousseau: Underdog

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To see more of Rosie Woods' work visit or her blog, Instagram and Twitter: @xrosiewoods