Work that inspires me. Resources I've found useful.
As an art director, I spend a lot of time working with photographers. Yet embarrassingly, I lack even the basic knowledge to navigate a camera. That is, until recently. When I finally decided to take that rather expensive DSLR camera I got as a birthday present about four years ago – along to a two day photography course for beginners.
For the first time I was able to take it off the ‘auto’ setting with a loose understanding of what all the other dials and digits actually meant.
Armed with this new knowledge, we were given our first assignment – capturing a minimalist photograph. We were given 20 minutes. And told we could only take 3 shots. Max. This forced us to really think about the subject, composition and framing etc. before hitting the button.
The image I brought back to the class is amongst the great examples of minimalist photography, above. I won’t say which one is mine but it’s the one that’s far less ‘great’.
It’s always been a style I’ve been drawn to even before this task. The ‘less is more’ approach and the ability to put as much consideration into what to omit from the frame as what to keep.
So, keen to put what I’ve learned to the test, and an excuse to keep it fresh in my mind – I’ve decided that minimalist photography is going to be my first body of work. I’m going to try to take one a week for six months or so. No restrictions or sub themes. And let’s just see where it goes…
For the last two years I've had the pleasure of working alongside a very talented illustrator called Dan Whitehouse, AKA Super freak.
His wobbly illustrations are a hilarious clash of pop art and surrealism that have recently made it across the pond and onto the cover of the New York times For Kids.
A fantastic creative mind who assures me his only drugs are nicotine and caffeine (not entirely sure I believe him). Check out more of his work here and decide for yourself.
A French artist based in London. Her bold, minimal style – often described as Pop Art meets OpArt – is a striking lesson in the use of positive/negative space and colour.
Her unmistakable style has established her as one of the UK’s most sought after graphic artists. Malika’s clients include The New Yorker, Vogue, BAFTA, Sephora and Penguin Books, amongst many others.
A recent project lead me into the bonkers world of photographer, director and artist, Carl Warner. These spectacular scenes are built completely out of food. Carl uses a variety of ingredients from salmon to sweets, bread to broccoli and much more in between, to reimagine places like Paris and London, and even create entirely new worlds that you feel like you could almost walk into.
Starting with a sketch, the scenes are crafted at Carl's London studio with help from food stylists and model makers. As an experienced photographer, he then photographs the sets in stages before stitching them together in post production, creating a detailed image that undoubtedly fools the viewer's first glance, before inducing a wondering smile once the realisation sets in.
One of my favourite photographers at the moment is Haris Nukem. He captures a superbly captivating intimacy with his models, who are often sans clothing and heavily tattooed.
In complete contrast to much fashion photography – the seedy looking environments and compositions add to his beautifully dark and gritty style. Like old bathrooms and unkept bedrooms.
His high-contast and highly retouched style is a cool and modern take on portrait photography.
I recently worked on a project where we commissioned typographer and illustrator Andy Smith. His style fit perfectly with the look and feel we were trying to create for a Valentine's Day campaign for Chiltern Railways. His intricate lettering styles have great energy and humour with an authentic handmade feel.
Andy was happy to take a fairly prescriptive brief and completed it superbly in a short space of time.
His vast portfolio is also a great go-to place for inspiration for injecting a bit fun into typography projects.
While pulling together a few mood boards for a photography brief, I came across a photographer called Sophie Ebrard. Her work stood out as a refreshing contrast to the many overly produced and retouched images we often see.
She brilliantly captures beautiful moments in time, predominantly using natural light. Her ability to tell stories and connect with her subjects is epitomised in a personal project called ‘It’s just love’ – a collection of behind-the-scenes images from a series of porn shoots over 4 years.
So I have quite a chronic case of Tsundoku (Google it) but there are some books that I have read that I often return to for inspiration. These are a few.
My bible amongst these is Luke Sullivan’s Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. Originally written in 1998 (I think) the book is now in it’s fifth edition, fully updated to include advice for digital, social, and emerging media. Despite many of the anecdotes coming from the industry across the pond – the tips, advice and guidance that Sullivan draws from his wonderful career are invaluable to anyone, anywhere working in advertising.
I could write reviews for all these books, but that’s another blog. If there’s one here you haven’t read, whatever stage of your career – read it. You won’t be disappointed.