jamie hawkesworth: “I've tried to keep a certain naivety to things”
Get an exclusive look at photographer Jamie Hawkesworth’s latest project, ‘A Short, Pleasurable Journey, Part Two’, as he discusses the story behind it.
Photography Jamie Hawkesworth
Jamie Hawkesworth -- one of the most revered photographers of his generation -- is unsurprisingly hard to get hold of. When we finally speak, walking around his latest exhibition a couple of days before it ends its ten-day run in London, he’s still being pulled in many directions by those looking to grab a quick word with him.
The show itself, A Short, Pleasurable Journey, Part Two, comprises of 86 images taken over two and a half weeks. Where Part One took in a mixture of his different pleasant journeys, Part Two is made up of just one -- to a small village in Transylvania. It has all the trademarks of his renowned style, the dichotomy of grandeur and intimacy that can be found from his early personal projects to his most ambitious fashion campaigns; broad sweeping landscapes at dusk and dawn on large prints and smaller, sensitive portraiture. Yet this feels distinct from his previous shows in just how much detail it offers on a single subject.
“I was making a short film in England, and I wanted an orchestra to make a score for the film so I contacted the London Schools Symphony Orchestra,” he explains, wandering from one side of the room to the other. “The conductor got back to me and said we're actually performing in Romania at the moment, if you'd like to come visit and say hello. So I did. I just found myself in this village, Floresti, by accident.”
An interesting dimension to the show, one he references in the show’s accompanying notes, is the camera he used. Shot entirely on a Mamiya RB67 (the camera behind one of the most recognisable images of all time, Bliss, otherwise known as the Windows XP landscape) it’s the first one he picked up when he began studying photography. “It's an analogue camera on a tripod. It's big and cumbersome, but it's very simple. I always love it when there's a very simple framework. So that cameras always been that thing for me.”
Finding an arc between then and now, when asked what’s different, if he’s the same person holding the same camera, Jamie answers that no, not much has changed. “I think with every new experience, every place you go, and every stranger you talk to, you naturally as a photographer kind of learn how to approach people. That's not always that great, because it's hard then to continue to be curious, but what I have tried to do is stay curious.
“I started off doing this big project in a bus station, where I was constantly walking around in circles. This isn't that different, in that I'm kind of just walking around a village... I haven't changed that much. In the bus station everything was by chance because I didn't know who was going to come and use the bus station. I've tried to keep a certain naivety to things.
When asked how different he approaches a project like this compared to a fashion editorial, Jamie says he believes little is divergent beyond its format. “With fashion, it's obviously a very different set of circumstances, but I always create a bit of space for chance, even with fashion editorials. It's sort of always creating enough space for chance to creep in,” he explains, walking from a wall of religious iconography imagery to another of shots of local children in black and white, careering around and smiling into the camera. “These were really isolated moments. I just crossed this bridge and all these kids came out of nowhere,” he says. “And also, everywhere there were wild flowers,” pointing towards a section of floral images. “I like the idea that these were different concentrated experiences. I actually did a shoot recently where I didn't know who the models were, intentionally, just to give that element of surprise, which is very much like what this is, because I don't know if I'm going to come across these kids, or this guy in his gold shorts.
“At the moment, this is the most rewarding way of presenting my work. I think someone can come in here and just interpret the work without any other context, and just take it in for whatever they feel it is.” A pleasant journey for all involved.
Photography Jamie Hawkesworth
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.