Daniyel Lowden captures the softness of male friendship
The British photographer, famed for bringing the same sense of laid-back intimacy to shooting Harry Styles as he does to capturing those he knows best, shares his favourite images of his closest friends.
There is a sensitivity to what Daniyel Lowden captures with his camera: photographs of people and landscapes familiar to him, sometimes framed fleetingly; others poised, permeated by the gaze of someone he knows so well. It’s a commonality that threads throughout his imagery, in both his documentary-style work and fashion editorials. When he was tasked with shooting Harry Styles for the cover of L’Officiel, Daniyel managed to capture the star in a moment of casual intimacy, as if taking a snapshot of a (very good looking) friend.
These pictures, a series dedicated to Ludwig Wilsdorff, a model friend of his for nearly three years, are captured with a similar, sweet frankness. On the runways of shows like Fendi’s first couture collection under Kim Jones or Dior AW21, we see Ludwig in moments of performance, wearing garments crafted by fashion geniuses. But through Daniyel’s lens, there are bleary-eyed photos of Ludwig (who Daniyel often refers to as ‘Lud’) half-in, half-out of bed wearing a wolf T-shirt; pictures of him post-party, makeup smeared across his face, or brushing his teeth in the mirror.
Here, Daniyel describes their friendship, and gives us an insight into what they mean to each other.
Can you remember the first time you met Ludwig?
Ludwig came round for a go-see in the summer [of 2018], when England was doing pretty well in the World Cup and it was scorching hot every day. That summer was so hot that any bit of wind was a blessing, and I remember the friendship forming effortlessly -- one of those friendships where you don't remember how you got there but all of a sudden you’ve been hanging out every day for weeks and you’re still having fun. We spent most of it walking around London meeting friends and taking photos.
When you close your eyes and think of him, what are the first physical and emotional characteristics that come to mind?
This made me smile. I haven’t really ever taken the time to close my eyes and think about the people in my life like this, but I guess, physically, I think of the mole above his lip and his thick dark hair that sticks up in a youthful way. Emotionally, he’s the extrovert in the room that takes any attention off me and I really like it when people do that, so I don't have to say much.
These pictures vary from posed images to more intimate, documentary-style shots. How impromptu is your camerawork when working with him?
I guess it's what you’d probably expect if you’re close to a photographer. There is this frustrating space where the nice moments don't just belong to the friendship but to my camera as well, and there is a lot of stopping very organic movements and situations so that I can quickly grab my camera from the other room. But then when we were in New York, we went to Clarke’s house for the weekend with the purpose to shoot. We have also worked together on [editorial] projects.
Is there a particular picture that you feel captures his spirit best?
I like the one where Lud is lying down on the bed. It was taken when we got home from a Halloween party. We went as Britney Spears and Madonna in the “Me Against The Music” video. He’s still got the lipstick on, as well as someone else’s lipstick on his cheek. It's endearing and it's honest. I think those qualities are why I enjoy taking photos of him.
Has Lud grown comfortable being photographed now?
I feel like he’s always been comfortable with me, it's probably more accurate to say he’s become numb to me reaching for my camera. But it's something that we get to do: collect all these photos over the years, as we grow up alongside each other.
Photography Daniyel Lowden
Art direction Clarke Rudick