Creativity through Lila’s lens: From humble beginnings to big brand photographer

Post by
Marisa Young
Creativity through Lila’s lens: From humble beginnings to big brand photographer

Meet Lila, a passionate photographer from Sydney, Australia on a journey of artistic growth. Initially hesitant to deep dive into the world of commercial photography due to a lack of confidence in her own ability, Lila's pivot to product and food photography has turned out to be a career-defining blessing. Combining her love for photographing people with product work, she has creatively thrived in the commercial photography world.

Lila and her bright, bold, and fun aesthetic joined our community as an enthusiastic creative looking for a sense of community and a place to belong on her journey of creative discovery. Now, she’s an avid member of our community, actively engaging in creative challenges and contributing valuably to our customer galleries. She has delivered exceptional product and lifestyle visuals for brands such as Olay, Kotex and Sunraysia.

We are always astounded by Lila’s creativity and resourcefulness. From nailing a caffeinated European vibe in her small Sydney apartment for Brasilia Coffee to cleverly faking bathroom scenes for Poise, there’s no brief Lila shies away from. She is a joy to work with and it’s an honour that she calls our creator community home.

Scroll down to learn more about Lila’s story of creative growth through her collaboration with our platform, and of course, meet her studio mascot Boop. We are excited to watch as Lila's journey in photography continues to unfold with passion and creativity.

Let’s chat with Lila

Hey everyone, I’m Lila! I have always had a love for photography, but I must say I don’t have a natural talent for it! And because of this, I shied away from it for a long time. I spent years taking terrible photos and being way too embarrassed to show other people my work. Slowly I started to build a small skill set and expand my work to feature people.

When I first started in photography my main focus was portraits. As much as I loved telling people's stories, the work never caught on enough to make an income. Cut to the COVID shutdown, I suddenly couldn't work in my other job, nor could I photograph people. What I thought was a devastating blow turned out to be a true blessing. This is where I started to photograph products and food and I have never looked back.

Although I still love photographing people, now I combine them into my product work! As of this July, I am now into my fourth year working full-time as a commercial photographer and still can't believe that I managed to make this a career! When I'm not working you will find me outdoors with my wife and super cute dog, while my big cat waits patiently at home.

Lila made a fresh start to her Creatively Squared journey with a beautiful campaign for Sunraysia. Source: Creatively Squared

I love shooting products in the studio creating my own world, but then I also am totally at home in the world of food, bonus points that you can eat what you make after. But I would say what I love most is working with models to create campaigns that feature food or products. Working with other creatives is always super fun. Food and product work is amazing but when you style, creatively direct, and photograph everything yourself, sometimes even hand model you can find yourself longing for a team!

As for my personal aesthetic, I like it bright, bold, and fun. I adore people whose work is soft, tonal, and whimsical, but alas as much as I would love to live in that romantic world, I can't help but love hard light, crisp shadows, and photos that scream I want to be there!

Journey with Creatively Squared

I'm not really sure how I stumbled on Creatively Squared to be honest! I think it might have been Instagram. I feel like photography on social media has become a ‘like contest’ and a platform to just please the algorithm. I was looking for a platform where photographers could show work freely, get tips and have it lead to paid work. Creatively Squared was all of that and more. The engaged community of kind fellow photographers and the team that runs it was such a breath of fresh air!

Lila took us on a visual trip to Europe for Brasilia Coffee and we all had caffeinated wanderlust. Source: Creatively Squared

One of the most challenging projects is Brasilia Coffee. The brief was to create a European romantic morning. This was super challenging in my small apartment in Australia but also so much fun! I worked with two incredible models who were so easy to photograph and I love how much I was able to tell a story with these images. It wasn't just about photographing a product, it was about showcasing the lifestyle of a Brasilia Coffee drinker.

Tools of the trade

I have a Canon R6, I am lens-obsessed so I have ended up with a collection! My go-to for most commercial work is cannon 24-70mm. I recently bought a 100mm macro, which funnily enough I use to shoot food mostly rather than macro, it gives great compression in photos.

And finally, I just bought a super wide 16mm. Again not to be used for its normal use. This lens is great for giving an editorial out-of-this-world feel to the image, very larger than life and I love photographing people with it. As a bonus, it's super small and light. My other two lenses are beasts!

On top of that, I shoot with Godox V1 flashes, I have two and will generally shoot with at least one. Then tripods, umbrellas, rectangle soft boxes, octagon ones, anything I can use to manipulate Light. Finally, I edit in Lightroom.

Lila shows us how she creates polished visual assets for Olay from her home studio. Source: Lila Marvell and Creatively Squared

When it comes to props, as boring as this may sound, I love working with just coloured paper. I don't even have expensive backdrops, just a $3 card from the local stationery store. Adding bold colours to contrast your product leaves space to focus on light and shadow play.

As for locations, my happy place is my home studio. I have a home studio, we are lucky to have a second bedroom which I have commandeered for my photography work. I would love to one day rent a full studio but for the size of the product I work with, my current setup is more than enough. I love controlling light and having a space not confined to natural light is amazing.

Plus my dog Boop makes a great mascot!


Finding inspiration

There are so many inspiring creators I look up to! Creators I would say @amylombard, @colorscollective, @benito_martin, @gerardbelevender, and @sianfay - I could go on and on!

Outside of photographers, I am a sucker for home design, so #colourfulinteriors has my name all over it, that and the likes of @taybeepboop

Lila’s creative process

I like to create a loose plan for my photoshoots. Generally, I create a shot list, which includes locations and potential setups but then the rest I leave to see how I feel as I set up. I find you can have an amazing idea in your head but then in reality it doesn't translate so I try to keep an open mind!

I mostly work solo. When I can, I rope my wife into assisting me, generally with a bribe of free food afterward! I would love to work with an assistant daily, so often I could just use another set of hands. However, most of the budgets I have don't cater to assistants, one day!

If I am blocked the biggest thing I have learnt is to just start. Start creating work, even if it's terrible because it gets you out of procrastination and into creativity. It may not be what you end up with but I find if I start eventually something comes out of the back of my mind - which works! But also sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away. Take the day off, let your subconscious work its magic and give it a go tomorrow! Don't be too hard on yourself, no one is creative 100% of the time.

Not only a still photographer, Lila has also amazed us with her videography skills for Olay too. Source: Creatively Squared

I was so excited to have the chance to work on a campaign for Olay, an amazing opportunity for an independent photographer. The brief was clean and minimal, and I loved making that a reality!

Top creative tips

Breathe. When I first started creating photos I was always so stressed about getting the shot or missing the shot that I would find I didn't stop to breathe and calm myself. And low and behold I didn't get the shots I wanted. Taking time to slow your mind down to enable your creativity to flow before a shoot is the best thing you can do. Once you have done that learn all you can about lighting!

What’s next for you?

I want to keep expanding my styling into larger scale sets. I admire people who build full sets that look like a room with the sunlight dappling through the trees, into the lounge, creating a cinematic feel.

Lila gets resourceful with some creative set design for Poise, creating a fake bathroom drawer scene in her living room. Source: Lila Marvell and Creatively Squared

Thank you Lila for sharing your journey as a Creatively Squared creator. You are a valuable member of our creator team and an inspiring community member, thank you. See more of Lila’s work on her website and give her a follow on Instagram. Join in the creative conversation and connect with Lila through our community platform.

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