The Creatives: Photographer Soo Burnell
'The Creatives' is a series of interviews that aim to showcase inspiring women in the art and design scene. Together we talk not only about trends and fashion but our daily lives, motivation, challenges, and doing business.
Soo Burnell is a Scottish photographer with beautiful minimal aesthetic and recognizable style. We’ve seen her gorgeous photographs around Instagram before but we got to follow her work more closely after she ordered some of our swimwear pieces for an upcoming shoot. The result was absolutely stunning and we simply can’t get enough of her Wes Anderson inspired journey around the pools in Europe blending minimalism and pastel colour palette with architectural touch in her photography work.
Your photo series 'Poolside' gives us huge Wes Anderson vibes! Tell us how it started and what was the inspiration behind it.
I have been such a massive Wes Anderson fan for a long time, he is an incredible filmmaker. My husband and I had a ‘Life Aquatic’ party for his birthday in 2005. I love that film, I think it might be my favourite piece of his work! I love the way he shoots everything straight on and how he chooses a colour pallete and runs with it through the whole film. You can always spot his distinctive style. The architecture of the swimming pools and the pastel colours they are painted in work perfectly with this style.
What are the main artists that inspire your work and you follow religiously?
I have a very minimal style, I follow a lot of architects and architecture pages with a similar aesthetic to mine. If I hadn’t been a photographer I think I would have been an architect.
How far ahead do you plan the shoots? What are the biggest challenges behind such a project?
Every shoot is planned well in advance, I have a huge selection of costumes and hats that I take with me (including your beautiful swimsuits). Traveling and co-ordinating everyone can be a challenge. But I love what I do so nothing seems too much of a problem that we can’t work around.
Every photo has a special story and every place has a story to tell. What did you want to tell with the 'Poolside' series and why did you choose these specific places?
My ‘Poolside’ photographs are centered around 6 Victorian swimming pools in my home city Edinburgh. The first pool I photographed was the one I learned to swim in - ‘Glenogle Baths’. I thought it would be interesting to make a series of all 6 of them. I have since traveled to London, Manchester, Paris and Glasgow to visit 4 more beautiful old pools. I absolutely love all of these buildings.
Do you travel a lot and what are your favourite places to visit?
I LOVE to travel and try to do so as much as I can. This year I have been to Paris, Iceland and New York. Iceland is probably my favourite place to go to. The landscape is really striking. There are several outdoor pools that I am planning to go back to.
With so many great pictures, do you have a favourite?
That’s a hard question! I think my favourite is always the one I am currently working on. The darker green shots from Manchester’s Turkish baths are interesting to me at the moment and quite different to the rest of the pools I have visited. I am enjoying the way they look on the linen I have made.
Are there going to be any other series?
I have a list of pools I would love to go and see. I absolutely love these hidden spaces!
If we come to Scotland, what are the best places to visit? Which galleries, design shops, or buildings should we see?
Edinburgh is an amazing city, you can of course visit the 6 beautiful pools in my series! My favourite design store is definitely Life Story Edinburgh. It is full of beautifully curated scandi inspired homewares, jewellery, and gifts. There are also lots of lovely galleries in Edinburgh but Modern One is probably my favourite, after all of that you could have delicious coffee in Artisan Roast, Stockbridge.
Is there a reason of having mainly women in your pictures?
No, I have shot some pictures with a male swimmer already. I would also like to work with some more male swimmers too. I like to put the swimmers in the photographs to scale the space so you can really get a sense of how grand these places are. The swimming hats being a nod to the period of the architecture.
We’ve seen a shot of your gorgeous studio – tell us a bit about it! How did it come together? Are you organized or do you prefer a creative chaos in the studio and the working process?
My husband and I built that studio and I designed the interior with the ply wood wall that folds everything away. It is great for organising all of my studio bits and pieces. The studio has a beautiful view across the fields. It’s such a calm space, It’s my favourite place to be.