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Photographing Claudia Winkleman – Bath Spa University

Photographing Claudia Winkleman on The traitors


Alumna lands dream job as Claudia Winkleman’s photographer on The Traitors

Friday, 26 January, 2024

One of Bath Spa University’s graduates has secured her “dream job” - working as a Unit Photographer for TV Presenter, Claudia Winkleman on the hit TV show, The Traitors. The series, which is shot in the Scottish Highlands, has its finale tonight at 9pm on BBC1 and is one of the highest audience rating TV shows of the year.

BA Photography alumna Llara Plaza Garcia graduated in 2020 and is now living in the north of Scotland. She has worked on both series of The Traitors, and her portrait images of Claudia Winkleman have been used extensively in the promotion of the show and shared widely on social media.

Llara is currently studying a Visual Communication and Design degree at a University in Inverness. Llara’s lecturer - who has a background in photography - was initially approached by The Traitors’ PR company before the start of the first series to ask if any students would like to assist the show’s photographer. Llara jumped at the chance!

Llara commented:

“At first, the photographer for The Traitors asked me to join him for one evening to set up the studio, and the following day we were working for the whole day (around 12 hours). During this day, the PR team asked me if I was available to work as the Unit Photographer for the next four days and on the third day they asked me if I wanted to stay for the whole filming of the series. I said, 'yeah, why not?' The days were very long, sometimes 12 or 14 hours, non-stop and in that industry, everything happens so fast so you must learn as fast as you can because otherwise you are not coming back.”

She continued:

“You have to think really quickly on your feet, get to know the crew and grow in confidence really fast. The production team were amazing, and they showed me around the site. I wasn’t always too sure who I needed to talk to so I had to use my initiative and work hard.”

For the first series, Llara was so busy she was working for 60 hours a week with just one day off and, at the same time, completing university work for her second degree in Inverness. In May of 2023, Llara received a call from the PR company from The Traitors who asked if she would like to go back and work on the second series.

“This time I felt completely different. I was more confident, I was ready to bring more creativity and my own style to the shoots. It was also much easier as I knew Claudia (who I would be photographing each day), and many of the crew - the hair stylist, make-up artist and fashion stylist. We all worked closely together. Plus, some of the camera crew and production team were the same. It was so much fun and you learn so much from every single department. I really think they pushed me to become a better photographer.”

“At first, I remember that it was really intimidating because Claudia’s such a big name in the industry and I'm just a junior photographer taking some pictures, but everyone made me feel so welcome, and part of the team so quickly, I just settled in. Claudia knows which angles work for her so the job is super, super easy and she has a stylist, a hairdresser and makeup artist. They are all so amazing at what they do.”

“Also, we were back shooting at the same castle in an area local to where I live so I was familiar with the landscape and how to shoot using the Scottish weather and elements. Often the days were cloudy, which is perfect for photography and the light is just beautiful.”

“This series - I think my images are much stronger which is why I think they are being shared a lot on social media and online in general. This time around, I had got to know Claudia much more, and how she likes to be photographed. She has such an iconic fashion style, it was important to feature the clothes in a really beautiful way. This really suits my style because even though I am really outdoorsy, I really like fashion, especially fashion photography because it gives you the chance to be so creative. Some of my favourite photographers come from a fashion background.”

Llara says her degree at Bath Spa University was formative in developing her style. She says:

“My lecturers, especially Stephen Vaughan and James Arthur Allen, were incredible at building my confidence and independence, and allowing me to be creative and experimental at the same time. They helped me to find my own voice. As I moved to Bath from Spain, I remember noticing that many of my British photography student friends shot in quite a melancholic tone, whereas my style was more ‘in your face’ using bright and bold colours. My degree taught me to see the world as a British person from a photographic point of view.”

“One of my lecturers, James said something that has always stuck with me: 'I know I can trust you to do a good job. I know that whenever I come back to you, you're going to be perfectly fine. And you are going to surprise me.' It was so encouraging and that gave me trust in myself. He made me believe in myself. He helped me to submit my work into The South West Collective Award for 2020 and I was shortlisted with another one of my classmates.”

Llara, who moved to the Highlands of Scotland during the lockdown of 2020, has since fallen in love with the landscape and scenery as she loves to be outdoors, it almost means she has a special connection to the place.

Llara said the main challenge for her, aside from the elements, was the speed at which she had to work, sometimes only having around three minutes to take the photos.

“The days are so, so long and Claudia is there from the very beginning to the very, very, very end. We are on a tight schedule so normally when everyone was setting up, I was looking for those angles and trying different ideas, but I have to remember that I am not the priority there. If a cameraman wants to be in exactly the same spot as me, because obviously we think the same way, you have to change the plan at the last minute. I am quite small and I think that's really helpful as a stills photographer because you can literally hide underneath the tripod of the camera operator, and you’re almost invisible. It's fine as long as you don't move!”

Llara says it is almost impossible to choose which of the photographs she took on the series are here favourite. “There are a couple of images where I think 'Wow, I did that'. And I feel so proud, every single time that I look at them."

"One of them is a moment where the hairstylist, Sarah, and Lucy, the makeup artist, and I are there with Claudia, and they are all touching up details like fixing Claudia's hair, getting the makeup right. There's a stylist assistant who was also fixing the clothes and Claudia was just sitting there calmly. I think she was getting orders through those tiny earpieces, but she just looked so serene and very relaxed even though everyone was on top of her trying to fix everything. Every single aspect had to be perfect, it reminded me a little of the Nativity scene where everyone is surrounding baby Jesus. So, I took a photograph of that moment, and I am so pleased with how it came out, I love it.”

The fashion from the series has become iconic and has gained as many fans and followers of the series itself. Llara said the clothes were a joy to photograph:

“My favourite fashion shot is the one with the Glen in the background. When I took that photograph, I think it was on the first or second day of filming, I said, OK, everything is going to be great.”

So, what’s next for Llara? “I am still waiting to hear about another show so hopefully I will also be taking both PR and still images for that series which is super exciting.”

But is Llara a fan of the show? Does she know who wins the finale? “The funny thing is, I don’t have a television so I don’t really follow the show. I have no idea who wins but I know it’s a fantastic series and super exciting. But I adore Claudia and all of the crew. Claudia is such an icon - so hilarious and lovely in real life - she is one of the funniest people I have ever met. I feel so lucky to get to work on the set.”

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