Thinkhouse

YOUTH 06

“We have the tools to play God!” - From posting on Instagram to shooting for Adidas in less than five years

From humble beginnings, posting images on Instagram, Elise Swopes built up a following of a quarter of a million followers and now works with some of the biggest brands in the world.

Swopes has built up a huge book filled with some amazing clients. With names like Adidas, Nike, Kellogg’s, Absolute, Beats by Dre, NBC, to name a few, it seems like it would be impossible to pick a favourite. We had to ask. “I think my favourite so far has been Adobe, because ADOBE. Haha! No, but really they have just been so open to everything I do creatively and have supported me for a year now by allowing me to speak at festivals and do workshops.”

Swopes built up her massive Instagram following by developing a distinctive style that relied heavily on editing her photos using the apps on her phone. “My style is shoot first and question later. I’m a graphic designer before a photographer, so you’ll notice that I tend to overly edit my images. I love surrealism. I think imagination is key to a happy life.”

Her photography mixes symmetry, emotion and surrealism to bring new life to her subjects. “I look for straight lines. I tend to look for something I can change about the environment. When I travel, I look for anything and everything.”

While Swopes has recently started shooting on a Canon 5D Mark III (and editing her high res work on Lightroom), she still shoots and edits most of her personal artwork on her iPhone, editing on apps like Slow Shutter, Photostudio, Mextures “and many, many more.”

In a world where we all carry a camera in our pockets, where the next Elise Swopes could be just discovering Instagram today, what does she believes makes a truly great photographer? “It’s hard to even say what makes a good artist. I think anyone who truly LOVES what they do makes them good at it. Anyone who does it for the wrong reasons makes us all look bad. It’s not about the likes, or the follower numbers. It’s about way more than that.”

Clearly, photography isn’t just a job for Swopes, it’s a passion and that passion is evident in every meticulously edited image. “I think a lot of people get worried about making something look realistic, but we have these amazing tools to change the world from what we see all the time. We have the tools to play God, which I think is just so magical. We have the ability to escape and create a new environment from the tap of our finger. How amazing is that?”


Photos courtesy of Elise Swopes.

Check out more of Swopes' stuff on her Instagram

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