August 24, 2023

Carmel King

By Sophie Harpley
Carmel King

The creative partner of dreams - Carmel and I have been working together, well since the millennium! We are childhood friends from Bristol and really got talking in a photography class in school. Unsurprisingly Carmel aced it whereas I preferred the art studio. Carmel went on to forge an incredible portfolio, documenting craftspeople at work, beautiful interiors, lifestyle imagery and creative people: view her work at (brand design by me!) To really delve deep into the workshops and factories Carmel documents, check out her book, Made in London. Read on for more of Carmel's story as she answers my mix of silly and serious questions...


1. When did you first start to love the thing you do, or was it always there?

 I was lucky that I was able to study photography at secondary school which led me on to a photography foundation, followed by an internship at Magnum Photos before doing my photography degree so I set out on this path pretty young!


2. Describe your style in 3 words.

I see myself as having two strands to my work, I’d describe my lifestyle and portraiture work as natural, intimate and fresh. I like to work with available light and balance colours and composition to create a harmonious image. My ‘Makers & Manufacturers’ series is narrative led and tells the story behind the scenes of heritage brands and family run factories.


3. What inspired you to build the business you have now? What impact do you hope to create?

My grandfather was the third generation to run the family textiles firm, so there's always been a creative streak running through the family and a love of visual arts. For the past decade I have been documenting British craft and industry, this country is full of incredible makers and manufacturers and I think it's vital to document what is still being made here, so many traditions have been lost. 


4. Where, who or what experience taught you the most invaluable lessons about the work you do now? Was it university, career or the school of life?

I had amazing tutors on my foundation course who pushed us really hard, not only technically (I used film and darkrooms throughout my photography studies, I picked up a digital camera the first week after graduating!) but also working out the narrative behind our work. It was a very proud moment last year to share my book 'Made in London' with my foundation tutor!


5. It’s your day off, what do you do? How do you unwind or find inspiration?

I recently had a 'day off' on holiday in Wales (ie. without the kids!) I went to a nearby town and had a great time exploring all the antiques emporiums. I discovered a 7th generation Welsh Pottery which is still going strong, so I made a note of the name, looked them up and made a detour on the way home with my camera - I love making discoveries like this.


6. What’s on your lifestyle shopping list at the moment? (Clothing, beauty, home, anything!)

I'm saving up for two metal galvanised troughs from my local farm stores - I moved out of the city three years ago and now spend more on gardening than restaurants! I'm looking forward to planting spring bulbs and dahlia tubers so I can hopefully enjoy flowers on my patio all year round (if the deer don't eat them first).


7. Song you can’t get out of your head right now (or an all time fave):

My daughter likes playing 'Song Two' really loud and drumming along to it, luckily I've always been a Blur fan.


8. Someone special is taking you out for dinner next week, where would you most like to go?

My all-time favourite Moro (or sister restaurant Morito – both fantastic) by the brilliant Sam and Sam Clark


9. A favourite staycation recommendation:

I recently visited Bridport in Dorset and can't wait to return, it has a market that fills the town every Wednesday and Saturday, loads of independent shops and cafes and a great antiques area. Bridport was famous for rope making so I’d love to find out more about its industrial past too.


10. Favourite place to travel abroad:

We recently went to Kefalonia in Greece and I'd love to explore more of the islands, so a Greek island hopping holiday would be my idea of heaven.


11. Words of wisdom, what’s the best life or work advice you’ve received?

Know the power of ‘no’ – as a freelancer it’s all too easy to say yes to every job but if you want to steer your career in the direction you’d like to see it go, you need to say no to certain jobs and be more considered about what jobs will lead you to more of the work you’re after.


12. Who’s the funniest person you know?

My three kids are pretty hilarious.


13. Your desert island book?

It would probably be Moro East if a recipe book isn’t cheating?! So I could forage and finally have time to cook all those delicious recipes.


14. What item in your home gives you the most joy? Where did it come from?

My grannie gave me a lovely wooden plan chest from her architecture days, it’s practical (we keep the kids artwork and loads of paints and materials in it) and it reminds me of her.


15. What historical figure would you most like to meet?

I would love to spend the day photographing Annie Albers in her weaving studio.


16. If I came around for dinner, what would you cook?

Well you’d be pretty unlucky if I was cooking as my partner is a fantastic cook but if he was off duty I’d probably serve you poached chicken with chimichurri sauce and a nice green salad followed by lemon posset.


17. Your favourite season and why?

Spring – I live in the Cotswolds and the area comes alive in May, it’s so green and the lanes are full of cow parsley. The bulbs start coming up in the garden which always feels hopeful and exciting after a long winter.


18. A guilty pleasure?

Taking the day off to go swimming and have a solo lunch, I shouldn’t feel guilty but freelancers always do when they’re not working.


19. What’s the most surprising fact about you?

I have a very large family, I’m one of four siblings and 21 first cousins!


20. Chocolate, chips or cheese?

Chocolate…unless I can have all 3 in reverse?


Posted in Creative friends