Woolhouse Studios are a one-stop-solution for photography and design. Working with superstar djs, bands, labels: from brand new talent to big ad campaigns, they create beautiful images over and over again.
Run by ‘Head Ninja’ EmmaJ, Woolhouse is a collective and creates a bespoke team for each project brief.
We caught up with EmmaJ and found out what makes them the black sheep that stands out from the flock in the landscape of image creation…
How did you get from modelling to running a studio?
My background has always been within music. I grew up in the 80’s when the rave
scene kicked off, many a lost weekend spent in the haze of warehouse parties,
or dirty fields dancing until the morning. I attempted to be a Dj and
producer, never a particularly good one, but always at “home” behind the decks
or in studios writing.
My journey from model to studio is based on my personal dislike for being
photographed really, but accepting it was how I earn a living. On my 4 year
journey as a model, I got to work with some of the world’s greatest
photographers, illustrators and styling creative’s, but I simply didn’t want to
be a model, I had never set out to be, was never comfortable with it, but I
wanted to stay in the industry of creating beautiful images.
Woolhouse fuses my 2 worlds, loves and passions – imaginary and music.
With my background in music, and although working as model curved my partying and being out late, the desire to be around music never left me. With friends who are Dj and producers coming to me, pre Woolhouse, knowing my modelling work, highly
concept based, I had a reputation for having a “good eye”.. they started ask if
I could recommend where they could get new press shots done, a couple even
tagging onto the end of my modelling shoots.
The requests for help became more and more, I wondered if there was “a gap in the
market” for high concept based images in music press. With a little research,
and bored of seeing the same one dimensional, poorly executed DJ and Band press shots, the same old male artists in hoodies against graffiti walls, I knew there was
another way! the DJ press shot with sleek artwork, lighting and editing
used by the fashion industry. With the backing of a couple of record labels to
“try this theory out”, Woolhouse was born.
2. What services does Woolhouse provide?
We started out as a photographic company, but quickly grew into a “one stop shop”
for artists and labels. We specializing in everything from photography,
retouching, story boards, concept based shoots, clothing, hair and
makeup, to branding, design and Adobe wizardry
We are the simply beautiful lit photography, to the complex artwork of campaigns and
3. Tell us about the creative process; from taking the brief to the final artwork…
It’s a fairly long process. Firstly, to provide someone great artwork or any form of
images that represent their message, you need to get to know them or the labels
visions. This includes tastes in styling, locations, lighting, image usage
intentions, projections. Once we understand this, it allows us to build story
boards, concepts for the shoots, many elements coming together – hair, makeup,
studio shoot verses location for example.
On shoot day, we will have a clear defined strategy of what we are all wanting to
achieve from the shoot. Often backgrounds and visuals maybe prepared pre shoot,
then the process from shoot, its retouching and then onto our in-house design
4. And tell us about your team…?
Woolhouse Photographic and Design studios is made up of 13 people, photographers trained by legends like David Bailey, world famous illustrators, we specialize in
everything from photography, retouching, clothing, hair and makeup, to
branding, design and Adobe wizardry – we have 4 of the best illustrators in the
industry who are at the helm of our every burgeoning design studio.
We are lighting and retouching experts, coupled with fantastic styling. Our constant
need for perfectionism in our craft is second to none and we always aim to
satisfy our clients 100% of the time.
5. How do you decide who is part of the collective? Is it the same team for each job?
Every member of my team brings their own style to the Woolhouse party. There is no
cross over in styles, which means they are never fighting for the same job, and
work in harmony with each other. There are some that work together more often
than others, but the teams are put together based on the artists’ requirements for the shoots. I believe in celebrating each of their skills, I don’t want them to compromise who they are, and I believe that each artist should be treated as unique, which means
listening to their desires and building the perfect team for them based on that
We always tailor our shoots to our client requirements and needs. We
never shoot or produce artwork the same way twice. Our DJ Press Shots are all
taken with a clear understanding of the desire and need for clean, eye-catching
original looking photography for promotion, press and albums. Our in-house
design team has the capability to take an image into another stratosphere of
look, design and feel. Our Adobe wizards are always on hand to wave their magic
wand and turn any photograph into something truly special and memorable. We
don’t rely on gimmicks. We rely on our expertise and experience. We are
lighting and retouching experts, coupled with fantastic styling.
Our constant need for perfectionism in our craft is second to none and we
always aim to satisfy our clients 100% of the time.
6. Who have you worked with – client wise – over the past two years?
A snapshot of clients would be: The Prodigy, Nike,
Adidas, Defected In The House, Chris Lake, Funkagenda, Miss Kittin, Space
Ibiza, Shapeshifters, Channel 4, Viva Music, Three Sixty Media, Bang &
Olufsen, Channel 4, BBC, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, Mixmag, DJ
Magazine, Sony Deconstruction, MN2S
Read all about how Woolhouse created some definitive imagery for The Prodigy here: http://woolhousestudios.tumblr.com/post/3682233237/on-set-with-the-prodigy-were-new-to-all-this#notes
8. What sets Woolhouse apart from its competitors?
I think the way we think probably, we don’t really have a rule book, but probably
the thing that sets us apart is we are “every requirement” or a “one stop shop
under one roof.
9. Would you ever turn away a potential client?
Yes definitely. Whilst there is a need to survive in the commercial market and make
money, we are all artists of our trades; we are designers first, business
people second. Working with artist sometimes feels like a very intense brief
love affair that comes from a share of energy, harmony, the breaking down of barriers
and trust to push the boundaries and try something new. There has to be an
understanding between both parties to work together well.
10. Is it easier or harder to be a woman in the photographic industry?
I don’t think it makes any difference in the photographic industry as a general. I
think however to be a female in the music industry, working with bands and djs,
the message has to be a clear one. I’m not a party girl.
11. What’s the biggest cliché in photography, in your opinion? What makes you cringe…?
Some of the online modelling communities and photography sites that have sprung up
means “everyone’s a model”, anyone with a camera” is a photographer.
In music photography, would be probably happen a lot in the summer too. New club
photographers in Ibiza suddenly thinking that they can shoot billboard
campaigns and concept based press shots, just because they met an artist pissed
at a gig. It happens a fair bit.
12. What’s next for the business?
To get bigger baddder and better! We want to conquer the world.
13. And finally, how many tattoos do you have…? Only 4, but over 120 hours worth
of work now.
Japanese cuffs right arm
Full sleeve left arm
Dragon from lower breast to below my hip
Japanese flowers and snake right side
Our Sneaky Question: Which DJs or personalities do you think could benefit from the Woolhouse treatment? And who would you never shoot in a million years?
HA we only have on name on that list, but it’s a secret!
As for who would benefit, pretty much any serious female artist, male artists, band,
label who cares and understands about the power of a killer brand and their
market projection and presence.
So there you go. But don’t just take EmmaJ’s word for it. Here are just a couple of cool testimonials…
‘I have had the pleasure of working with Woolhouse studios on many occasions now and can honestly say I wouldn’t want to work with any other team. The styling,
make-up, hair, photographer and directing on the day are the best in the
(Sam Divine, Defected)
‘Working with the Woolhouse crew was the most pleasurable photo shoot experience I have ever had. They managed to make me feel very comfortable and actually enjoy the whole thing! And then giving you the shots better than you thought you were
going to get’
“HOUNDS have worked with EmmaJ and Woolhouse Studios twice now, and both times have been dope. They have a great outlook and approach to the whole
creative process, meaning their shoots are always totally relaxed and
fun but always produce top quality results. Big respect. Ob x” (The Hounds)