Photography preseves a moment forever – it marks and preserves time as it has been spent. It is, information pills to draw Barthes into the conversation, a memento mori. Amy Gwatkin’s photographs (BA Editorial Photography, Brighton) blur the boundaries between fashion, editorial and fine art. Amy’s frequently updated blog documents shoots, time spent in the studio with models or other-sometimes-coffee-relative-activities, and has an incredible talent for turning personal adventures into moments representing a snapshop of a life.
An exhibition late last year – Interior Politics – and the launch of a new website introduced me to Amy’s exploration into the minuite obsqure moments that life has to offer. More recently Amy has been experimenting with film, and has kindly taken the time to answer questions for Amelia’s Magazines.
Amy! When and why did you first pick up a stills camera?
Because using the film camera involved waiting on unrealiable people! And I instantly loved it. I was supposed to do something more bookish at uni, but the minute I found a camera I was smitten. I had been obsessed with fashion since I could toddle into my grandma’s/mum’s wardrobes; suddenly I had found a way that I could make imagery without having any drawing ability!
Recently you’ve been experimenting with video: debuting with a video of the Cooperative Designs S/S 2010 Collection at London Fashion Week to the recent Light submitted as part of the Shaded View of Fashion, Fashion Film Festival – What inspired the expansion from static to moving?
I always wanted to make films…. Photography offered a way of making images that wasn’t reliant on other people. I’m still a total megalomaniac though! Very often it’s literally just me and a camera.
Showstudio have been attempting to develop the moving fashion photograph since the inception of their website, I love both the static and the moving – What are your favourite fashion videos?
I loved Ruth Hogben’s spanking movie. Sunshowers by Elisha Smith-Leverock. Chris Cunningham’s Flora film for Gucci. Gwendoline by Jez Tozer. And the men’s Dior one in a corridor, was it Dior? It was on Nowness and it was lush. I find at lot of fashion films very hit or miss though – the best were the re-edited Guy Bourdin footage that was on SHOWstudio, that I could, and do, watch over and over and over….
What made you decide to set up your blog? What do you think the advantages are of a blog vs a website?
Originally it was to give me some online presence as my old website was out of date and my new one was being built…then I just really got into it. I like that the blog can have more laidback images, where I have less of a professional front to put up. But I love how clean and tidy the site is.
You appear to be quite involved with the internet from your great twitter feed to your blog – what advantages do you think the system of blogs and twitter has created for photographers and fellow creatives?
Well, I guess it opens up little internet wormholes you wouldn’t have known about before…although I can follow a link and find myself, 2 hours later, marvelling at how many photographers there are doing the same sort of thing.
It’s a good platform for self promotion, though it does blur the line between business and pleasure a little uncomfortably at times
Do you streetcast your models?
I often see people on the street that I’m too nervous to ask! But sometimes I overcome my nerves long enough to street cast. I think I have a few characteristics I like, though its hard to nail them in words. A certain bad-temperedness maybe.
Your photograph reflects both fine art and fashion photographic interests – could you tell Amelia’s readers more about the photographs recently exhibited? (I’m thinking of the Familiarity breeds contempt and Modern Miniture series)
Familiarity Breeds Contempt is an extension of my long term project tentatively titled The Housewife – it’s hopefully the start of a longer project exploring sexuality, fantasy and what goes on behind closed doors. Which is also what Modern Miniatures was about in a way – only without the overt sexuality. I have a interest in the domestic, with other people’s domestic/private space, putting myself in them, and also, if I’m honest, with the risk involved in contacting strange men on the internet, asking them to get naked, and them taking pictures of me standing on them etc…
With fashion how do you make the decision between colour or black and white? Does it Matter?
I’m always trying to make things b/w, without sounding mental/pretentious/partially sighted, I see better in b/w. sometimes there’s someone else’s prerogative to take into account, like a client etc. black and white can sometimes make things instantly nostalgic and a bit too soft or romantic. Depends on the situation, but there are few where b/w doesn’t rock in my opinion!
Favourite photographers/people to work with/Set designers/fashion designers?
I rarely DON’T have a wicked time on shoots.
Sets – Alex Cunningham, David White’s sets for Coop a/w10/11 were mint
Designers – Cooperative Designs, Scott Ramsay Kyle, Corrie Williamson, Fred Butler, Atalanta Weller
Photograhers I admire – Wee Gee, Helmut Newton, Collier Schorr, Les Krims, Duane Michals, David Armstrong among MANY others!
What is it like being a london based photographer?
Fun! Busy. Forces you to work a lot to make ends meet, which can wear you down. Over saturated. Very youth orientated
What accompanies you in the studio?
My crappy selection of music! I always download the weirdest selection of stuff. Some proper howlers on there, but sometimes you have to listen to the Outhere Brothers. Also the lovely Anna Leader and Bella Fenning with whom I share my space.
What do you hope your photographs convey?
Tough…. I find it quite hard to look back, to edit etc, but having to do my website forced me to do that, and there is a certain strength in the characters I hope. I know some of the shots are quite moody, or gentle, but I don’t like it when models look too winsome or fashion-fierce or posed. Hopefully somewhere between the two, though I do seem to shout things like ‘you’re at a bus stop!’ or ‘You’re a sexy eel!’
How do your shoots come together?
Mostly ideas from films, dreams, or pacing the streets of London which is my fave thing to do. Or maybe a drunken overenthusiastic chat with friends
What are your plans for the future?
Hmm….more pics. More films, maybe a move to proper films with dialogue and a plot!
Born in Peterborough but escaped to London after a 3 year stint studying in the wild terrain of Wales. Currently, medications I’m the Buying Assistant for Jewellery and Accessories at Liberty. I like mint tea, vintage playsuits, F. Scott Fitzgerald novels, and hunting for treasure in charity shops. One day I plan to write my memoirs in Barcelona, but until then I will continue to build up a collection of vintage clothing, worthy of a wing in the V&A.