Photography: Ronan McKenzie

Picked up a magazine lately? Consciously or not, you’ll have seen Ronan Mckenzie’s definitive photography gracing its pages. Just a couple of years into her career and this East London creative has already carved out a reputation for fusing authenticity and strength in each intimate portrait.

Delving into the world of work, Mckenzie left her Fashion Communication and Promotion course at Central Saint Martins within a fortnight. After dabbling with styling, she found herself fixed firmly behind the camera and has since gone on to work with the likes of i-D, Marques’Almeida and Vogue US. As if that wasn’t all, she’s exhibited and curated her work “A Black Body” at Doomed Gallery in Dalston, is the sole founder of a 500 page photography publication HARD EARS and has produced collaborative tees with Dickies. We could go on.

Not only do we admire Mckenzie’s original perspective and determination when it comes to work, but the considered approach she takes with her photography. It only seemed right to sit down and discuss the past, the present and what the future holds in store.

We wanted to start out by asking you what the driving force is behind your personal work?

My work is all about capturing what I see now, I love photographing people because I find it so interesting that they will never be in that moment again. I also think it’s a powerful thing to be able to show people how I see the world and what catches my eye, which I get to do most within my personal work.

We know Girls was one of the first projects you started working on, how do you cast your subjects and how has your style of direction and photography evolved over the years?

With Girls, they are either friends, friends of friends, girls I find on Instagram or agency models. I pay so much attention to my casting for this because it’s so important to me to shoot people how they are, I only really shoot people that jump out at me for some reason. I can’t really describe what that reason is, sometimes it could be a physical feature like beautiful eyes or an interesting shape face, or sometimes it could just be the vibe of that person or an energy that comes through. My style of shooting portraits definitely changed once I began shooting medium format as opposed to 35mm, mainly because there is so much more depth when using medium format, textures and details are so much more obvious which is why in the last few months I have become a little obsessed with close ups.

With your commercial work, what is the deciding factor that makes you want to get involved?

It seems most of the commercial clients that I’ve been fortunate to work with like my work for it’s natural feel and the way that I capture people, so I’ve been able to do a few great projects this year which allowed me to really get stuck in to this. The Nike F/W Style Guide was super fun because I shot 6 girls from totally different backgrounds and places, of different shapes and colours all moving and working out and I could go in tight and catch the angles and essences of the girls and their bodies in those moments.

Girls - Ronan Mckenzie

Hypothetically, what other career could you have seen yourself pursuing?

I know at some point in my life I want to study social work and work with rehabilitating homeless people. The struggle at the moment is in rehabilitation and giving people the mental support they need to ensure they stay off the street.

In previous interviews, you have touched on the voluntary work you’ve done to combat the homeless crisis in London and your passion for making a change. How do you feel others in creative fields can pull together to help alleviate the issue?

I think that everyone in creative fields and beyond should be aware of social issues and speak openly about them to make sure that they don’t go unnoticed. I also think it’s so important to step outside of the creative industry and make connections with others to ensure that we don’t stay inside a bubble where things like fashion week parties or when DSM go on sale are the most important events of the year, of course they hold a level of importance to some people but in the grand scheme of things I feel that being aware of and supporting social issues is the most relevant and important thing there is. I try and do my little bit within my work be that shooting more diverse people or trying to link charity work in to what I do, and if everyone in creative fields do that we will be able to make small waves that will in turn create bigger ones.

Having worked in and amongst the fashion industry, what is your stance on sustainability? How do you introduce sustainability into your life?

Sustainability is so important especially when fashion can be so throwaway. This year I’ve been trying to be a more sustainable shopper by spending slightly more on ethically made better quality pieces that will last, or second hand clothes, instead of buying into the fast fashion market.

Girls - Ronan Mckenzie

So, who is your dream style icon?

So tricky! I don’t think I have one! Erykah Badu’s hats, with maybe some of Solange’s tailored looks.

How do you spend your downtime away from the camera?

I love food! I spend a lot of time looking at restaurants and recipes that I want to try and make. Exercise is also a big part of my life, and I love travelling! I’ve just booked a trip to Japan and I’ll hopefully make it to Beirut later this year to see a friend too.

Are you currently working on a sequel to HARD EARS?

I haven’t started working on it as of yet, but it is definitely on my mind and will hopefully make it to fruition towards the end of next year! In the mean time I’m working on a few other personal projects and some fashion work which I’m quite excited about!

Watch this space.

Words: India Blue van Spall
All images: Ronan Mckenzie

Share this:

More From The Journal

  1. Work with us at Glasshouse Salon

    Fancy being a part of our close-knit Glasshouse team? We are looking for a talented Hair Stylist and a Salon Assistant to come onboard.

    More +
  2. Astrology with Daliah: Capricorn

    As we ease into a new decade, we turn to Daliah Roth, The Highgate Astrologer, for a closer look at the ambitious, organised and practical Capricorn.

    More +
  3. The Glasshouse Guide to a Conscious Christmas

    From zero waste wrapping to dropping the turkey from your Christmas dinner, here’s the Glasshouse guide to making your festive season more eco-friendly.

    More +
  4. A Sustainable Department Store, Edition No. 2

    Everything you need to know about Edition No. 2 of A Sustainable Department Store, plus some top tips on how you can shop more sustainably this Christmas from our independent makers.

    More +
  5. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Sagittarius

    As we being to approach the final month of the year, we turn to Daliah Roth, The Highgate Astrologer, to tell us more about the free-spirited nature that defines Sagittarius.

    More +
  6. Sustainable Sleep Rituals

    ​From ethically sourced loungewear to low waste makeup removal, we speak to some eco-conscious bloggers about all the ways you can practice good sleep hygiene without harming the planet.

    More +
  7. Masterclass: Air-drying Curls

    Winter has definitely arrived and with it brings a shift in the way we care for our hair. On balmier days we welcome air drying our curly hair, but in the depths of winter this is less appealing. With the help of Glasshouse Salon stylist Tori’s expert advise, we’ve got some tips for achieving a frizz-free curly style throughout the colder months.

    More +
  8. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Scorpio

    As our mornings and evenings get darker and the clocks turn back this weekend, we are entering the beginning of Scorpio season and have once again enlisted the help of Daliah Roth, The Highgate Astrologer, to tell us all about this illusive and intriguing sign.

    More +
  9. Gender Neutral Prices

    As we launch a new gender neutral price list that makes hair cuts and colour the same for both men and women, we’re take a look at some of the other industries affected by the so called ‘pink tax’ and why many women end up paying more than men for the same products.

    More +
  10. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Libra

    ​Autumn is officially here and with it comes the beginning of Libra season. Balanced, social and often romantic, Daliah Roth of The Highgate Astrologer helps us delve deeper into the qualities of this sign.

    More +
  11. Hair Trend: Slicked Back

    From Molly Goddard to Roland Mouret, we spotted the slicked back look all over the SS20 catwalks. Though the style may seem more high fashion than everyday, hair that’s swept of the face is surprisingly flattering and easy to achieve. With help from our Senior Stylist Mel, we’ve put together some tips on the bold yet sophisticated trend.

    More +
  12. Plastic-Free Periods

    ​As more and more alternative period products become available, we chat to four real women to hear their experiences transitioning from conventional feminine care to more sustainable and healthy options.

    More +
  13. The Glasshouse Guide to Beauty Recycling

    The rules around recycling can be difficult to decipher most of the time, but recycling our beauty products seems to be an even more confusing area. In celebration of Zero Waste Week, we’ve put together the definitive guide to reusing, recycling, and refilling our bathroom waste.

    More +
  14. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Virgo

    As the summer starts winding down, we’re entering into Virgo season. Practical and humble, we find out more about Virgo’s traits as we continue our Astrology series with Daliah Roth, The Highgate Astrologer.

    More +
  15. Beauty Trend: Orange

    Bold and zesty, orange makeup is having a moment this summer. Whether you’re up for experimenting or are a little more reserved, we’ve got some tips on how to wear the shade in a way that suits you with the help of our in-house makeup artist Emily.

    More +
  16. Amber Rowan by Thea Lovstad

    Despite diversity being more visible than ever, we still wrap a lot of our identity up in our hair. Model and actress Amber Rowan has suffered from alopecia from the age of 15, sharing her journey and the stories of others on her platform, Hair Free Life. We spent a morning with Amber and photographer Thea Lovstad, leaving feeling inspired by what she has to say and her unique beauty.

    More +
Load more posts