Flora Maclean studied menswear design at the University of Brighton but has been fascinated with taking pictures since she was a child. She recently gave up her job as a menswear designer at London tailor Timothy Everest to become a freelance photographer and has worked on projects about domestic abuse and women’s football as well as shoots for fashion brands.
“I’ve always liked taking photos … but I never thought of it as a career until very recently,” she says. “I have memories of going round photographing stuff with my sister when we were at Eurocamp. I used to love using disposable cameras to photograph anything – shapes and colours. I liked that you could manipulate the surroundings to look weird and different.”
There’s a graphic sensibility to Maclean’s work, which spans portraiture, documentary and still life. Images posted on her Instagram feed feature striking compositions, eye-catching patterns and flashes of bold colour.
“I like to think my style works across genres but translates differently from say, fashion to sports photography,” she says. “I love telling stories so whether the medium is portraiture, still life or documentary, I hope to bring something new to it.”
She is also interested in challenging stereotypes. Her personal series Every Player Counts celebrates the diversity and camaraderie in women’s football and was inspired by her own experience of the game.
“Having played football since I was a nipper I’ve heard a lot of negative comments about the women’s game,” she explains. “I wanted to change the public’s attitudes to female footballers, to show that we don’t fit one stereotype. These women are different in so many ways and this should be celebrated.”
Last year, Maclean worked with Women’s Aid and Refinery29 to tell the stories of women who have survived domestic abuse. Women were asked to talk about their experience and select an object that had given them strength during difficult times. Objects were photographed by Maclean and appear alongside interviews on Refinery29. “These women really are survivors, their stories show incredible strength,” says Maclean. “It was a real privilege to help illustrate this piece.”
She is currently working on a series about obsessive compulsive disorders (OCDs) and hopes to challenge misconceptions around the mental health condition.
“I don’t think many people really know what [OCD] is. It’s commonly used to describe overly cleanly or tidy people, which sort of belittles the illness and the impact it can have on someone’s life. Its so interesting how the human mind works – the project aims to explain the disorder and make it more human I guess. I’m hoping it will be revealing and kind of heartbreaking but also have some sort of lighthearted humour,” she adds.
Giving up full-time work to go freelance is a daunting prospect – “I had a lot of doubts because I had a steadyish job. But I left because in the end, what I wanted to do with photography just felt more urgent,” says Maclean. “Photography is my way of communicating – I never really feel like I can explain myself with words. It’s a key part of my life in a way.”
New Talent is part of Inspire, a year-long partnership between Creative Review, Facebook and Instagram showcasing outstanding creative work across both platforms. More advice and inspiration for creatives using Facebook and Instagram is available at www.facebook.com/ads/creativehub. You can follow Flora Maclean on Instagram at @floracmac