i met Billy Howle over a year ago and took this quiet portrait of him then. actors are so incredible to photograph, they can easily tap into any emotion you’d like them to work with. it’s such a treat for a photographer.
a few years back i took pictures of Johnny in victoria park. the first one was published in a magazine, but i was looking at some outtakes the other day and loved the second one. it’s so natural. we were just having a laugh and he tried to look at me but couldn’t because the sun was shining right into his eyes. i miss looking straight into the sun and feeling the warmth of sun rays on my face, perhaps that’s why i picked that photo now - in the depths of this gloomy weather. anyway, since then Johnny has been working on some exciting projects acting-wise and he has also recorded another album. he’ll be touring with his band this spring, here are the dates, go see him, he’s great. that’s a nice tune from the new album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3feE_GCMcjc. (if i were to recommend one song though it’d have to be ’amazon love’ which he sings with his sister Lillie.)
Promotional film posters are a dime a dozen in most major cities – plastered over walls and on electronic billboards as far as the eye can see – but few know how to nail them quite like Agatha A. Nitecka. The film photographer has shot posters and promotional materials for films from Wuthering Heights to For Those in Peril, and unusually for her profession, she works entirely on film.
She explains: “I work in quite an unusual way – not very commercially friendly, perhaps. I shoot on 35mm film, walking around film sets with two cameras, and prime lenses only, one loaded with a colour roll and the other one with black and white film. I work very closely with directors and bring a fine art approach to film stills.”
We were especially enamoured by her work for The Selfish Giant. Directed and written by Clio Barnard, the film was met with huge success, and has been described by critics as something of a contemporary fable, focusing as the story does on the plight of two young boys from a working class background. Agatha captured the film’s characters and atmosphere in her own inimitable way, trailing around the set with the cast to shoot them with a kind of integrity that promotional images rarely encapsulate.
last time when i sat on dusdin’s studio sofa in brooklyn i asked to flick through his book of portraits. it was perfect. one image stood out for me the most, i got very excited, so dusdin said he’d give it to me and we decided to do a print swap. i posted him a nice handprint of a picture from my russian series which he picked and he has sent me my favourite image from the book.
It’s not often that black models are shot in soft colours. In fashion, pinks and pastels are reserved for paler complexions, while black models are mainly used to showcase the bold colours that make white skin appear washed out, or the leopard/zebra/‘ethnic’ prints in fashion that season. It might seem strange to complain about this in an industry where black models are chronically underused, and where fashion editors would sooner hire white models and black them up than get a black woman in for the shoot. In this context, the observation that black models don’t wear pink might seem the least of our worries.
But consider that colours like soft pink, baby blue etc. are commonly associated with femininity, delicacy, vulnerability, whimsy and play. While demanding greater numbers of models of colour on the runway, it’s also worth thinking about how limited and limiting the representations of black women can be. Styled as powerful, fierce, sassy, divalike, sexy or imposing, black women in fashion do not appear in their diversity. Where are the gentle, soft, vulnerable, gauche, fawn-like black models modelling pretty spring looks?
This lack is why Olympia Le-Tan’s SS13 collection, modelled by dancing black women miming into hairbrushes and wearing penny loafers and bows and Alec Wek pretty in Jasper Conran pink (as opposed to her oiled skin being used as contrast) were such refreshing fashion moments. And these shots of Alima Fofana also stand out for representing a side to black women that is all too scarce in fashion pages. We know all about black lady divas, but this shot reminds us of the soft edges, the vulnerable underside of that commonly presented face of black womanhood.