Behind the lens
Ascham Old Girl—Bec Lorrimer (Class of 2001)
Accomplished photographer Bec Lorrimer’s speciality is capturing the inner energy and personality of women: their experiences, expressions and perspectives and this skill has helped her build an incredible career from the ground up.
In the early 2000s, before social media and the iPhone irreversibly changed society, fashion’s stars were enigmatic and impossibly perfect in magazine images. Behind the camera, the top photographers who captured them — and who presented female energy, personalities, and physicality — were often iconic and famous in their own right, and overwhelmingly male.
When Bec finished her filmmaking degree at UTS, she started out working in the camera department on film sets. Eventually she was assisting photographers and found herself in the fashion industry. I never thought I would go into fashion, but I kept working for these fashion photographers and it was an industry that I really enjoyed where you could be quite creative,’ she says over coffee. ‘You can put music on; there’s not as much of a timeline you have to stick to. In film-making you have to be very strict — you shoot this way, then you turn around and shoot that way. With photography you can be a lot freer to try things out.’
Eventually she landed a role as assistant to one of Australia’s top fashion photographers, Richard Bailey. She would set up the lighting, the cameras and other equipment, learning the technical side of the job. ‘I worked and worked and worked and I was really good at it,’ she says.
In 2012, Bec went to New York, the city that is the toughest of tough nuts to crack in the creative arts. Knowing no one in the industry, she built her career from the ground up. Soon she was first assistant to a big fashion photographer, Lachlan Bailey. ‘It was a huge job with so much pressure. We were shooting H&M campaigns with Gisele in the Caribbean; we were in Paris every couple of months shooting for Paris Vogue. We shot all the biggest models in the world. I loved it and I found it very exciting. I enjoyed being an important cog in a big wheel.’
Sure, there were downsides — every role takes its toll on you. Says Bec: ‘The creative industry is very competitive. It’s freelance, so there isn’t job security or financial security. Every job will pay you differently. You’re travelling a lot, which can be tough.’
Now, years later, Bec is an accomplished fashion and beauty photographer, working in advertising and portraiture. Her speciality is capturing the inner energy and personality of women: their experiences, expressions and perspectives. In her work, you see diverse body types, unconventional interpretations of beauty and women celebrated for who they are. Bec captures a range of authentic female experiences, her subjects ranging from domestic family life and breastfeeding to high-profile fashion models and celebrities.
Social media has given the everyman the chance to have their voice heard, their opinions showcased en masse to the fashion industry. And those voices were shouting, loud and clear, that they wanted more female presence behind the camera and a far greater variety of females represented in front of the camera. Says Bec, ‘Finally the industry is picking up on the importance of portraying diverse body images, ethnicities and voices. I love using imagery to represent people who have different shapes, sizes, ages in a beautiful way. I’ve even shot my friend giving birth. Real-life things like that are important to document.’
Social media has also created a powerful route to market for young creatives. ‘Back in the day, I often worked for free, taking my own pictures, showing them to everyone, knocking on doors, taking people for coffee. That’s all still relevant, but there’s also an amazing capacity for young people these days to capture what they like and get it out there on social media.’
‘I love to mentor young female creatives. I love supporting them and talking about the lessons I’ve learnt. I get emails from them all the time.’ There are so many lessons, like: You have to be your own brand. When you meet people, when you’re online, when you’re at a shoot — you are representing yourself at all times. How you talk, how you dress, how you connect with people, even how you send through your portfolio to people. You’re constantly promoting yourself.’
In a moment of reflection about her greatest successes, Bec says: ‘I lived and worked in one of the toughest cities in the world for seven years and came out of it with a beautiful portfolio, a great group of friends and a feeling of gratitude for where I come from — Ascham and Sydney. Ascham helped me understand that I have to work hard to get to where I want to go. It established a work ethic and a commitment to what I want to do. Most importantly, it taught me to have confidence — to back myself! In a male-dominated world — sometimes you have to think: what would a man do? In New York, where I was competing with tough, confident American men, I had to put myself in their shoes and do what they would do to show my value and the strength of my work. I’m extremely proud of having taken pictures for Vogue, and specifically Vogue Australia because that is the Vogue from my home. It’s a great achievement for me, and one that I thought I may never have.’
Pictured here are some examples of just that incredible work from Bec — some of her photography from the pages of that glamourous icon, Vogue, and other style magazines.
One to look out for: Bec’s photography is all about making women look great. In the new corporate world that is taking notice of the talent women can bring to the table at the highest levels of business, and with daily Zoom calls, image has never been more important. So with that in mind, she is starting a business where she goes into the homes of executive women and advises them how to enhance their look and their image. She will then take portraits of these women looking their best — for their LinkedIn profile, and for their corporate profile.
Story by Ascham Old Girl Jessica Luboski (2001)
Bec is pictured bottom left