Amanda Shadforth has a dream for her creative agency Oracle Fox – to be renowned as one of Australia’s best content creators. But you only need take a look at my computer background and mobile phone screensaver to ascertain that many believe she’s there already [yes, it was only during my interview with Mandy that I realised both are actually images she’s created].
Incredibly warm, ridiculously talented, and fundamentally stylish, Mandy’s work continuously manages to blow me away – whether it be for a brand campaign she’s created, an artwork for her Instagram feed, or an editorial for the Oracle Fox blog. I don’t ever really go fangirl over anyone, but if I were to – meeting Mandy would be the closest I’ve got.
While she’s often flying around the world on different jobs, we caught her while on a recent trip to Sydney to talk all things daily life, being vulnerable with her work, and where Oracle Fox is headed.
What is life like at the moment?
It’s been rather hectic because we recently came back from a press trip with Tiffany’s in New York – that was a week of photo shoots and events, we created video content and shot a campaign… we had a lot of deliverables off the back of that trip and while we were on the ground. And then we came straight home and went to work with a big Australian retailer who has over 400 stores in the country. We shot a campaign for those guys and then we pretty much finished that a few days ago and then flew straight to Sydney this week, so it’s been back-to-back.
It sounds full-on…
It’s actually very difficult to do projects that close together because I treat Oracle Fox like a creative agency, so we do everything in-house and we create everything ourselves. All of the content is edited, shot and styled by myself, or one of the team members if I can I get someone to help me – but it’s a lot of pressure. And then at the same time, when you’re out an event – you’re there representing yourself, so you’ve still got to be on and doing all the press as well. It can a bit full on!
In front of the camera, behind the camera… do you still take most of the shots yourself?
Yes, I love my photography. I was an artist before I had my site, so I’m really creative and I like to have a touch point on everything. It’s the most amazing job in the world, but it is really hard work.
Your pictures are so incredible. Is there a lot of behind-the-scenes work going into each shot?
The perception is that things look so effortless, but the more effort you put in – the harder it is to execute it in a way that you want it to look. But then it’s your name, it’s your DNA. Your name is attached to your work, so you just want to give it your best shot. For some people it takes a week, and some people it takes 30 seconds (if you’re lucky!) but we just do what we can.
How many people do you have in your team?
There’s three full-time and then myself, so there’s four of us. It’s hard having a team because I’ve got wages to pay, but then at the same time – the capacity and level that we’re working at now, the amount of jobs we’re doing, and the calibre of the work that we’re doing, we need a team. I like to bring everything in-house, so if we can manage a project from start to finish and everyone in the team is across it, that’s what works for Oracle Fox – then we’re all on the same page and can execute it the best possible way for the vision that we had planned.
Do you find when you’re working with brands that they often want the content you create for their own platforms but also for Oracle Fox?
It does happen a lot of the time. Strangely at the beginning I was insulted by that as ideally I wanted people to work with me because of my talent, not because of my following – but I’ve met with amazing photography and styling agencies that in conversations they’ve said “we’ve had stylists that are internationally renowned but only have 4,000 Instagram followers and we still request those people to put their photos on their feed”.
I think the reality now is that anyone creative, a lot of people will ask: “Do you think this is something you would like to share? It would be more beneficial for us to work with you if you can”. So whether it’s someone like me with a large Instagram audience or someone with a small Instagram audience, there is still a perception that you will share that work. I guess I’ve had to come to terms with hoping that people will work with me because of my work and then it’s a bonus if it goes on our channels as well.
You’ve had the opportunity to do some amazing campaigns. That one with the car in the field…
I did enjoy elements of that, but yes, we’ve had some amazing projects over the last year or two. We went to Japan with Louis Vuitton, New York with Tiffany’s, and during Fashion Week we shot some content for Wish magazine… We’ve also created some really beautiful campaigns for large brands – so to be trusted in that capacity, you feel very blessed that people are willing to take a chance on you. Being an artist, I know what that’s like. It’s a risk for someone to invest in you – so you give it everything you’ve got, you put your whole heart on the line and you share who you are. Your creativity is your soul, so you’re vulnerable and then you just hope that people love your work.
What has been your favourite campaign ever?
I think my favourite campaign is the one we just shot for Tiffany’s while we were in New York. That was launched on June 1 and I’m really happy with the photos because the day was magic. The energy of the shoot has a lot to do with how the images transpire at the end – and it was just a beautiful shoot, great team, and Tiffany’s are just so amazing to work with. It was a dream come true, so I was really excited about being able to share that with everyone.
Five years from now, what’s Oracle Fox look like?
That’s such a hard question. My accountant asked me that the other day and I was like, “I don’t know!” It’s a difficult path to choose for job stability because you have to be quite reactive to the projects you work on. I’m trying to change the format of the business so we’re less reactive and can look in advance further down the track rather than looking three and six months ahead – looking more like one year, 12 months, 24 months ahead. So I’m working on that at the moment, and content creation is king – so we love to make beautiful content for brands, solidifying our name as one of Australia’s best content creators. That’s my goal for sure.
All images: @oraclefox