Q&A Laura Kniesel and Derryn Hill



Hi Laura and Derryn, good to see you. I just wanted to take some time with you today. So you’ve had the fourth shoot today. You started saturaday, four days ago, a shoot every single days. I scheduled them for the morning 10 am at House of St. Barnabas in Soho. Super exciting, how was your fourth day? How do you feel?

D: I feel good. i am enjoying myself at the moment.. Something new I have never done before. 

How is it working with Laura? You just met me four days ago aswell.

D: Two lovely ladies, so.. (laughing)

L: Yes for me it was also completely new too. I just saw you standing in front of House of St. Barnabas on saturaday and you were just standing there and I said “Ok”. We’ve never meet each other before, we need to get you some clothes and then it’s your first photoshoot ever, so it was also for me completely new experience because normaly I know the people or I had them on the phone. Talking about what kind of photos they like or what they wish for. This was completely new.

You have to say you were always on time Derryn, most of the time we were running late. What motivates you? What makes you come everyday and have another shoot?

D: Well i dont know, the perceveirance to hope something will come out of it. You never know. If you don’t try you never know.

Laura, you are a photographer from Germany, how was it for you coming to London? Brand new everything? The models etc.

L: Yea so first of all for me it’s new to be in Lonon. It just took me some days just to get the athmosphere of a new country. Everything was new and especially i knew what your doing and what your agency stands for, what you do. But just being part of it, being here, sitting here with you then meeting Derryn. This is somehting i could not imagine before. So it was a completely new feeling for me and I had to be .. Mh I mean, if you take pictures of people you always need to be open, get in contact with them. But this is also in a completely new way. You have to be even more open and more sensitive and more cooperative as well.

How did you find working together? Can you see improvements?

D: I enjoy the company and enjoy the pictures. Shes telling me to put my head down etc.

L: Yea its just little things I don’t need to tell him much. He is really photogenic from the beginning, from the first shoot, so we had not really problems. Of course you can always try new things. We are very low budget for styling and also location so we are always creative everyday. Trying to find some new backgrounds new styling, new looks.

We have no makeup, no hair. We are doing everything very raw. How is it? Do yu think that benefit the images. Or would you say it makes me feel uncomfortable to shoot outside in front of people?

D: It doesn’t matter, if it makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable doing it outside with people, but that’s maybe where I’ve got to try and obviously that boosts my confidence a little bit more, so.

L: yea I could also recognise that when we were inside, the first day at the Ivy Club you were more comfortable and then it took you really get out of your comfort zone to take pictures out on the street with the people running by, passing by and looking at you but I think it’s a good exercise. Because when we just do portfolio work you’ve got a real job, you have to be right there (snaps). 

I’m just curious Derryn, can you feel something that has changed you in those four days? What would happen, if next week we wouldn’t shoot anymore? Laura is going back to Germany, I am on a phototrip. How is that going to affect your life after those days?

D: I’m just going to go back, I don’t know. It wouldn’t really affect me much. But obviously, I will miss you guys (laughts). It won’t affect my life, but you will have to tell me when you come back.

You come here volunteering as photographer or giving your time as a model. What do you see there that you think you want to give your time, I believe in it and it makes a difference that it’s there?

L: For me it is I have nothing to loose, you Derryn have nothing to loose. Both of us can only gain. Some new experience, new perspective. 

Why do you think the business is important? If TIH would close from one day to the other. Why would you say, you would like it to sustain? Do you know what I mean?

D: Yea, because people get the chance to get out of their comfort zone, try something new. Never done it before and I am open.


Even if TIH will run like now on low budget for a longer period, no investent and not much facilities. Would you still say it’s very beneficial to you and to the homeless community?

D: Yea, because it helps people. It will help people off the street eventually. 

Would you say even the testshoots are already a step forward?

D: Yes a step forward in the right direction. Obviously, if you don’t have test shoots you won’t be able to get interest. 

L: On a really, really high level TIH is also another change in the fashion industry as well. Because yes it’s a  different look of how things are now in the fashion industry. It’s fast fashion and agencies, yea.. It’s just another impact that changes something.

So you would say you would definately want it to continue, no matter to what extend? 

D: Yes

L: Yes, and even if it’s just on a really, really low level just spending a day with people that you wouldn’t otherwise meet. That’s the lowest level, the highest level is complete change of the fashion industry. (laughing)

and all homelessness and low level it’s just meeting people and talk. We all have different backgrounds. We’re all the same. We’re all human.


What was your best photoshoot?

D: I’d say the one at the Ivy (laughs). A new place, I have neven been in a high end place like that. Basically felt like I was not on the street. 

L: For me it was yesterdays shoot. With the light jacket. I think the outfit was really good that day and also we had a good connection and also it did not take that much time. We were really fast. It was like click, click, click and yea I think it was a good feeling and the whole situation.

What advice would you give to people starting out?

D: I would say relax. Don’t stress out. Nothings really stressful, it’s just pictures being taken. Just get on with it.

L: I would just say, try to behave normal as you would with any other models as well, I think it’s not different, it’s a different surrounding. You’re not in a studio. You have to be more creative, because you need to find clothes, the right spots, you don’t know the person before. For me as a photographer, let me just think..I did not behave different. I’m just saying the same to the models in Germany, move forward, move back, turn your head.


What would you have told yourself four days ago with the knowledge you have now?

L: Take enough time. Take enough time with the person, because I think the shoot I like the best was also the best, because I was relaxed myself, took enough time, I was also just trying something new and getting closer to the model. Get closer to the face. Wait for the right moment to click. This is something you have to get a feeling for and you can’t rush trough a photoshoot. You have to take your time. This is something I would have done right away from the beginning next time. Don’t stress myself, you can see it on the photos.

Is there anything you’re looking forward to? Are you making plans?

D: I don’t know, what’s next?

L: I think we could go on like this for weeks. Just choosing different styles, there are a lot of styles we didn’t choose. All seasons, spring etc. I think we should do some shoots which show more skin and proportions. Topless. So we need to find a spot. This is something we should do. Then I think we almost got a full portfolio.

Any funny moment, funny memories, awkward moments (smiling)?

D: No

L: No, could be worse (laughs). It was just funny that people took our shoots very serious and were like “Oh sorry, sorry can we go though. Oh Sorry, just take your picture first”. So I think we might look very professional. We look like professionals. Yes a boy was crossing the street and was like “That’s probably a good photo I guess”. 

What is a quirk that you pick up on each other?

L: The only thing is sometimes it’s so hard to understand you, because a certain slang and for me it’s like mumbeling (laughing)

Thank you

Tatjana Hoffmann