Spotlighting the Industry's Rising Image-Makers
“My dad was one of those really crazy amateur photographers,” says writer and curator Magdalene Keaney of her first introduction to the fashion image. “He took lots of pictures of punks in England in the late 1960s, then later at skate parks.” The Canberra native’s new book, Fashion Photography Next, a version of which can also be seen in an exhibition at Amsterdam’s Foam museum, is ultimately a product of this enduring obsession and showcases 35 up-and-comers whose work is contributing to the debates around the trade. The idea for the compendium came to Keaney after curating a show of Irving Penn’s work at London’s National Portrait Gallery, as well as stints at the V&A, spurred on by the feverish growth of digital technology. The author was inspired not only by the changing methods of the form, but by how images are stored, edited and presented, exemplified by the inclusion of postproduction maverick Erik Madigan Heck and documentarian Boo George. While Keaney believes that “the best fashion photographers are just incredible photographers,” she also notes that factors such as “bravery, innovation, hard work, good commissioners and the right team” are equally important in the creation of groundbreaking work. We caught up with Joss McKinley and Charlie Engman, two of the breakout talents featured in today's preview of the book, to talk past, future and fantasy fashion photography.
Tell us your earliest memory of fashion.
Charlie Engman: My older sister always had an impressive closet.
Joss McKinley: Axl Rose's colorful array of bandanas.
You're shooting your fantasy editorial: who is the subject, dead or living, and what’s the location and why?
CE: Cleopatra on the moon; it sounds like the title of a great song.
JM: Faye Dunaway and Elvis in Graceland in the early 1960s. Need I say more?
Which fashion photographer would you choose to shoot your portrait?
CE: Cindy Sherman.
JM: Paolo Roversi, on Polaroid.
What one photographic habit do you have no intention of breaking?
JM: Not using a reflector.
What is your photography prediction?
CE: Everyone will realize that everyone is a photographer.
JM: A backlash on people who use their smart phones at public events.
Fashion Photography Next is published in September on Thames & Hudson. Don't Stop Now: Fashion Photography Next runs through September 7 at the Foam Photography Museum, Amsterdam.
The Philosophical Artist Continues Her Transition to Film With a Brand New Premiere
“I was traveling more than ever over the past several years: airport terminals, subways stations, streets of New York and London,” says Los Angeles native Alex Prager. “I became very aware of the crowds of people and how my emotional and psychological state really determined what I noticed in the crowd and how I absorbed it.” Channeling the personal experience into her latest short film, Face in the Crowd, taken from her M+B- and Lehmann Maupin-exhibited show of the same name, the artist allows viewers to witness the before and after of one of her saccharine-coated, Golden Era-indebted photographs. The melodramatic clip––shown here for the first time––has echoes of the famous last scene in Fellini's 8 ½ and sees 30 Rock actress Elizabeth Banks play an all-American beauty observing a cast of exhibitionist characters before finding herself thrust among them. “Every time I'm in New York I'll have a moment like this,” says Prager. “The second you leave your house you are confronted with a crowd. The choice you have is to either let it swallow you up, or use it as inspiration.”
Can you tell us a bit more about how the film came about?
Alex Prager: I was dealing with a very visceral reaction to public speaking––stage fright––something I didn't know I had until I was suddenly confronted with an audience. I've always had a strong interest in crowds; I had been wanting to shoot crowds for years, but I wasn't trying to just re-enact crowds that we've seen before, I was trying to create a staged world for these crowds to live in. I wanted to construct crowds that brought the feel of the cinematic, a manufactured world, and meld them with reality.
How do you cast the picture-perfect scenes?
AP: I use my friends, people I found in cafés or on sidewalks, as well as go through casting companies to find professional extras. My sister was the only person who was in every single crowd shot dressed as a different character. She is the Where's Waldo in Face in the Crowd.
What was the last crowd you encountered?
AP: I went to Art Basel in Switzerland a few weeks ago because the exhibition was being shown with Lehmann Maupin at Art Unlimited. I did a panel discussion for the Salon Sessions. These things always feel a bit overwhelming before I go on stage, and then gradually, as I look out and start to notice individuals, it becomes less and less intense.
Part One of Our Jookin’ Double Bill Starring the Rubber-Limbed Dancer
Game-changing American dancer Lil Buck displays his gravity-defying repertoire in director Jacob Sutton’s latest film, to breakout rap star Azealia Banks’ “Liquorice”. Following his cult LED-clad snowboarder piece for NOWNESS, Sutton wanted to push the unexpected, and enlisted his father and electronics whiz John Spatcher to build a giant revolving wooden cube in a barn in the Cotswolds. “I wanted to make an environment that didn’t really conform to normal gravity,” explains the fashion image-maker who has shot for the likes of The New York Times, Adidas and Y-3. “I liked the idea of an internal space where you don’t really have any point of reference. It’s a natural way of doing special effects.” Taking inspiration from 2001 and Inception’s weightless scenes, Sutton enlisted Buck to pit his gyrations against those of the dynamic set. Memphis-born Buck, aka Charles Riley, rose to fame when a Spike Jonze video capturing his inimitable fusion of Jookin’—a street dance evolution of Gangster Walking—and classical ballet training in an improvised performance with cellist Yo-Yo Ma went viral. Since then the young dancer and choreographer has appeared in Madonna’s celebrated Super Bowl XVLI half-time show alongside M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj, and is currently a principal dancer on the material girl’s new MDNA tour. "He could be standing in someone's driveway, porch or in the middle of the street," says Sutton of Buck’s magnetic presence, "and when he starts dancing he instantly has that magic. It’s a new way of moving."
Return tomorrow for Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied’s film of Lil Buck’s sublime talents on the streets of Los Angeles, exclusively on NOWNESS.