Your Picture / Our Future spotlights new talents with the chance to shoot the designer’s next campaign
Since it was founded a decade ago, Jonathan Anderson has made photography and visual communication an important part of the DNA of his brand JW Anderson. Championing up-and-coming names such as Jamie Hawkesworth – who blew up after shooting the designer’s first ever campaign – is something the designer has always strived to do.
In that same spirit, Anderson invited young photographers from all over the globe to submit their work with the chance to shoot his AW18 campaign. Whittling down the 1,800-plus applicants down to 50, the chosen few’s work was put on display as part of an exhibition – entitled Your Picture / Our Future – that will be open to the public until May 23.
“Instead of being insular, I wanted to make sure that anyone could have a chance globally,” Anderson told us at the exhibition’s opening. “We’re in a moment where I feel like there needs to be newer people taking pictures. JW Anderson is a younger brand, so it’s important for us to have a younger voice again.”
With such an overwhelming response, the variety of the images is astounding. With different backgrounds, home countries and years of experience, the work of each person is completely unique – no doubt making choosing the winner a difficult task. So much so, that instead of one, three winners – Julie Greve, Yelena Beletskaya, and Simons Finnerty – were chosen in the end.
Anderson isn’t worried about the risk of choosing relatively unknown names though. I always see JW as a cultural agitator,” he explains. “It’s never quite right, and it’s not about being ‘it’ right now, but being continually irritating, somehow.”
Here, we meet four of the photographers from the shortlist.
“The images are part of a series shot in collaboration with hair stylist Tom Wright and People-File casting. I wanted to shoot a project which had a portrait aesthetic but also allowed room to explore different ideas. Shot over the course of about six months, the images draw from varied inspirations. Tom cut, styled and coloured the hair in order to create an individual style for each model. I worked with a mixture of light sources to create shadow and tone that draw focus to a particular point in the image.
I’m interested in how the photograph is often approached as evidential, factual and truthful. We know that everyone sees or portrays the world from their own perspective, which means that images cannot be relied upon as indisputable fact. The photographer can choose to alter or present things that can cross with the viewer’s ideas and preconceptions. My images aim to explore this idea and work on the border of the documented and the put-together. The images can feel a little strange and unplaceable as they are a mix of both the real and the imagined.”
“The idea was the moment: a composition jumped out at me (whether I was sitting in the passenger seat of a car observing a sidewalk in LA, or just walking around Orange County) and in the two-four second window that composition was held in reality, I was able to capture it, usually very quickly and without concern for proper image-making techniques. What I most like about all of these photos – and the reason I ended up submitting them – is that I didn’t will them into existence. I was merely the conduit for the moment to reach other people. I think they represent spontaneity, visual irony, and, like, wonky symmetry – all themes I embody in real life and that permeate my art and design.”
“The images are part of my personal series of ‘go-sees’ portraits. I started this project three years ago when I developed a more in-depth interest in fashion. They are widely inspired by 70s/80s horror movies such as Suspiria or Inferno by Dario Argento. Marlene Dumas’ paintings also played a major part in the process.
Portraiture was always my subject of predilection. The go-sees are all shot at my place, where I have the time and freedom to experiment, try different lighting and really find what pictures I want to take. Most photos taken of those young ‘new face’ models are so banal. I wanted them to have a more fun and out of the ordinary picture of themselves to put in their portfolio.”
“My images are about people. They are the subject. I’ve never restricted myself in terms of what kind of people I shoot and I’m open to everyone. I guess there’s no continuous message throughout my photography but rather a documentation of my relationship with that subject at that moment.
When I was submitting my application I put forward all black-and-white images and thought it might not be an accurate representation as I shoot colour also, but black-and-white felt right for this. With black-and-white, there’s nowhere to run. I think my aesthetic is ever changing so I can’t say that this work represents my aesthetic, but instead a period of time in my career.”