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A change of direction

It’s been a weird sort of week this week. The kind that looks like it’s going to blast past you and then turns at the last minute and hits you with the force of a freight train.

I’ve been thinking for a while of refining the direction in which I’m taking my photography. It started after my most recent fashion shoot, which had a number of problems and which I didn’t enjoy as much as I should’ve. Talking it over with Sarah, I said then that I wanted to stop doing studio fashion, at least for a while, because it didn’t excite me. That’s pretty much where I left it.

This week I spent some time in That London, partly to visit my dear friend Kat who was over from Australia from a short time, and also to shoot some images of her for an upcoming project of hers. Kat has changed her life radically over the last year or so, and over a cup of tea was explaining to me how important it was to do what you love in life and to not get hung up on other stuff that might come along. The whole conversation reminded me a lot of Zack Arias’s Edit: Transform video.

What are you doing with the time you have right now? When you’re pushing 80 and you’re flat on your back with no way to speak a single word? Shutter speeds? Cool locations? That portrait series that was printed in some magazine that no-one remembers the name of? So why’s all that so damn important now?

~ Zack Arias

This morning I was looking at my schedule for early March. It’s looking a little bare, apart from a couple of client meetings and some pre-production work for a commercial shoot in April. I wondered why I hadn’t made an effort to book more fashion shoots.And then, watching Zack and RC’s conversation on D-Town TV, it hit me like bolt out of the blue: Because I didn’t actually want to shoot any more fashion.

From now on: characters.

~ Zack Arias

Don’t get me wrong; I love working with models, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great ones. I like shooting in cool locations, too – and even, on occasion, in the studio. But I really struggle to focus on the the objective of fashion photography, which is to make the clothes look amazing. I’m much more interested in the person, or in the story, or in the story about the person in that particular location. The clothes are just part of the character of the image. And that all adds up to me not being a very good fashion photographer. I’ve shot some beautiful images (some of which are interspersed with the text of this post, lest I never show them ever again), no doubt about it, and I’m very proud to have shot them. But they aren’t a great foundation for a fashion portfolio and I know it. Moreover I’m not exactly living in the fashion capital of the world up here.

The funny thing is that every single time I’ve talked about photography recently I’ve talked about the joy of photographing someone and bringing their character out in the image. I just didn’t listen to myself very much, and because of that I’ve spent nearly a year of my life and 14,000 or so shutter actuations on finding out that fashion just isn’t for me.

So, no more fashion for fashion’s sake. More commercial work, lots more editorial work, some commercial stuff, and lots more working with people about whom I need to tell a story.

And yes, it’s entirely possible that I’m making a huge mistake, and that in another year I’ll look back and think I’m ready for a second crack at fashion. I don’t know; that’s part of the excitement. But I’m sure as hell not going to spend any more time doing something that isn’t exciting me every time I pick up my camera.