Watch Joe Puxley’s Pep Talk on starting out in photography

Our latest Pep Talk featured photographer Joe Puxley, who answered all of your questions on starting out in photography, overcoming self-comparison and finding your style. Hosted by Steph Fung, Joe discussed the advantages of being dyslexic, using Instagram in a healthy way and why your personal style and taste are one and the same.

The big talking points:

  • How Joe got into photography (6:43)
  • Why film photography has more “soul” than digital (11:16)
  • Tips on finding your first photography clients (13:12)
  • Why Instagram is the best place to show your body of work (16:25)
  • Overcoming self-comparison by setting clear goals (18:33)
  • Why Joe turned off his Instagram likes (21:09)
  • How your taste directly influences your artistic style (24:29)
  • The music-world “brand bible” that Joe swears by (27:00)
  • Growing and moving on with work you hate (28:37)
  • How Joe uses his dyslexia to his advantage (38:50)
  • Joe’s favourite photographers and why they inspire him (41:48)

What did I miss?
After an introduction from our host Steph Fung, Joe shared his own mini-pep talk with us: “Focus on creating the work you think is excellent, and the rest will follow.”

Joe tells us how, at 15 years old, he was given his first camera and began shooting his friends and blogging about photography. Now aged 20, his career continues to go from strength to strength, with recent shoots including Mercury Prize winning singer Arlo Parks and popstar Bree Runway.

Having been diagnosed with dyslexia, Joe initially struggled at school, but came to see photography not only as his main passion but as a way of exploring how his dyslexia offered him different – and often creative – viewpoints to other people.

The conversation also touched on the topic of social media, with Joe noting how he often uses platforms like Instagram to both share work and find subjects to shoot. However, Joe is also wary of the way social media can encourage self-comparison, leading him to recently switch off his likes on Instagram so that his work can be viewed more objectively. Joe’s main tip here is to set clear goals for your own path, rather than measuring yourself against other people’s achievements.

“Focus on creating the work you think is excellent, and the rest will follow.”

Later on in the conversation, Joe answered questions on finding your own style, explaining that, your creative style and your personal taste are often the same thing. One thing which helped Joe work this out for himself was learning about the 'brand bibles' often used by musicians. A collection of inspiration and references, Joe made his own to help work out if a client or commission would be a good fit – and encourages emerging creatives to do the same.

For those who are left pondering the pros and cons between film and digital, Joe also had some valuable insights. Joe mostly shoots on film, because for him, the imperfections of the medium give “soul and humanity” to his photographs. But shooting on digital can be an advantage when working within tight deadlines. For Joe, that means using the Canon camera he was given as a teenager, emphasising that you don’t need an expensive camera to take great photos.

Joe also spoke about how to move on from work you regret, contacting modelling agencies for test shoots and his photographic inspirations like Harley Weir, Frank LeBon and multidisciplinary artist and former Pep Talk guest, Mahaneela.

About Joe Puxley
Citing renaissance paintings and “wacky 90s photography” as influences, Brighton-based photographer Joe Puxley’s vibrant and hyper-realistic imagery often captures themes around youth culture.

Since graduating in 2020, Joe’s photography has been showcased by the likes of DAZED, The Face, It’s Nice That, GUAP, Vogue Italia and Wonderland to name just a few. Added to this is also an impressive list of clients and collaborators that include Arlo Parks, Bree Runway, Matilda Cole, Warner Records UK, Island Records, Human Resources and House Of Holland.

See more from Joe on his website and Instagram, and read our Creative Lives interview with him.

What is Pep Talk?
Pep Talk is our monthly Instagram Live event to share relatable, easy-to-process tips in conversation with inspiring creatives.

Each session begins with a ‘pep talk’, where a chosen creative gets to share their ultimate advice for anyone who might be feeling a bit stuck, before answering questions submitted by you, our readers.

Mention Joe Puxley
Written by Creative Lives in Progress