Amberly shot our spring-summer collection on the dreamy island of Lamu, a unique jewel just off the coast of Kenya. A Brit now living in Bali (lucky her), Amberly is known for her beautiful, award-winning fashion photography, which has taken her across the globe to some of the most stunning locations in the world. Here she shares her inspiration and most memorable trips, and talks us through her favourite shots from the hush shoot in Lamu…
Meet the Photographer: Amberly Valentine
When did you realise you wanted to be a photographer?
I was meant to go to medical school but decided to take a year to explore art instead, which was always something I loved. I discovered photography and eventually went on to study it at university.
Describe your style of photography…
Natural. I don’t like overdone or posed imagery and I prefer using natural light after years in London studios.
"One of my favourite traditions from this area is the decorative plasterwork. It’s made by grinding white coral when a child is born, then leaving it out in the rains for years until they are ready to marry and build a house of their own with it. The motifs are so beautiful, you can see some of it in this image."
You’ve travelled extensively – which has been your favourite country and where’s still on your bucket list?
I loved Kenya – but there are so many amazing places. The Seychelles for insanely beautiful beaches, Italy for the simplicity, and Morocco for the architecture. Being alone at sunrise in the ancient city of Petra in Jordan is one of my top memories. I’d like to go to Jerusalem, it’s a place that fascinates me, and see more of Africa – Namibia and Botswana.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Moving to Indonesia and designing and building my house in Bali, it’s been featured in lots of interiors magazines. Every time I come home it’s a ‘pinch me, I must be dreaming’ moment.
“This makes me smile – there are no motorised vehicles on the island of Lamu, the only way to get around is by dhow boat or donkey. There were so many donkeys, especially mums with their babies. We spent a lot of time cuddling them and feeding them bougainvillea flowers.”
What’s on your ‘inspiration board’ right now?
I’m inspired by historical characters, currently female journalists in the 70s, and old black and white photographs of people’s family holidays and daily life.
Any advice to women wanting to make a career in photography?
Be the most passionate person in the room – if you would honestly do this all day, every day, without being paid then everything will fall into place.
What was your favourite part of the hush shoot and what would you recommend doing in Lamu?
It felt like a holiday with friends; many of the shots are while we had a coffee on the beach or went to feed the donkeys. If you’re in Lamu, head to Shela town and visit Aman, a really lovely boutique.
“This is really representative of my work – casual and timeless. This was shot at a restaurant where we ate most days and watched the dhow boats sail by.”
What’s your life goal?
I’m enjoying taking a more balanced approach to life, getting more time to surf and walk my dog through the rice fields. I’m learning to slow down a bit after a decade of non-stop shooting.
The next big adventure?
Paris to see my friend, then Portugal, Australia, Mallorca, Amalfi Coast and Tuscany.
Over or under dressed?
Under dressed always (beach baby)
Over or under packer?
Neither. After years on the road I’m an expert packer. I can travel with hand luggage for three months if I have to
“This was taken at the basket weavers shop in town. We bought soooo many baskets. I ended up having to leave some behind as they wouldn’t fit in my suitcase. The long tube-shaped basket that our model Louise is looking at is used to make coconut milk. It’s currently hanging in my kitchen in Bali."
Chinese food and Game of Thrones
Desert island beauty product (we’ll give you sunscreen)?
Vitamin E oil
What are you listening to at the moment?
Nothing worth having is easy
Can’t live without…
My travel pillow! And my manager Sarah, she is incredibly supportive