talking shop with james k lowe

New Zealand’s nicest young photographer sounds off on the country's Fashion Week, moving on up, and buying a nail gun.

by i-D Staff
19 August 2016, 6:05am

James Lowe is probably one of the nicest guys you'll ever have the pleasure of talking to. He's also damn talented. Case in point, his latest shoot, which appears exclusively on i-D, here. See that fantastic sloping wall? He built that himself.

We'll be pairing up with the Aukland-based photographer for New Zealand Fashion Week again this year, so it felt right to call him up and hear about the shows he's most looking forward to, and what he's been working on lately. From what we hear, he's basically a Grand Designs contestant now. 

i-D: How are you going?
James: I'm okay now — I thought my wisdom teeth were coming through, but they actually aren't.

Well thank goodness for that. Since we spoke this time last year, what's changed for you?
This past year I've been working a lot, which is great. I've stopped doing jobs I don't really want to do — actually hold on, that's not true. I'm still doing those jobs, but I'm also doing way more stuff that I find interesting [laughs]. I'm pushing to do more stuff that I've come up with, conceptually. I feel like every month I look over my book and think, 'this sucks, I need something new.' That's why I've been designing and building my own sets — studio shoots can be so limiting. It's a way to do something different.

Building your own sets is so labour intensive. You're essentially a tradie now.
Well I bought a nail gun and I learned how to use it, which is great, but also terrifying because it's like an actual gun — you could kill someone with it!

I assume you spend a lot more time at Bunnings than you used to.
Yeah, I have a Power Card, which is great. It's like a tradies card. I get more excited about going to Bunnings than shopping for clothes. I'm also building a shoe rack and a coffee table for my sister. Oh and a futon for my little office space.

Tell me about the set you built for this shoot.
Just that one slope took us 5 hours to build! We went into the studio in the morning to build, then shot for a couple of hours that afternoon, because that's all we had time for. I did another job where we actually had builders come in. They put together a giant set in like a couple hours! To see them put up a full set of 4-metre-high walls in a couple hours, we were like... fuck. We suck.. but we're learning.

Do you think Auckland will always be your home base, or are you interesting moving overseas?
That's sort of what I'm questioning right now. Honestly, I'm still not sure. I've always thought I'm going to move, and I've been spending a lot of time in Sydney lately. The teams I've been working with there definitely feel like another step up. I'm keen to see what's out there, likely a bit further abroad.. the States perhaps. That might be happening sooner rather than later.

I guess you know the entirety of Auckland at this point.
To a certain degree. I feel like I don't really go out much!

How about the rest of 2016, what's happening?
On a good month I'll know what I'm doing for that entire month ahead, otherwise I usually don't know what's happening more than two weeks out! I'm gonna keep building furniture, and I'm building another really big set. I'm still working out exactly how to pull it off, like "how do these joints work?" I basically want to build the interior of a house, and then do something weird with it.

Who are you excited to see during fashion week?
There's a few shows I'm keen to see. Definitely Penny Sage, because Kate does some really cool stuff. I've been interested in Wynn Hamlyn lately — and of course Twenty Seven Names since I've been working on it with them. It's gonna be fun. 

Follow James and i-D through New Zealand fashion week @jamesklowe and @id_aunz


Photography James K Lowe
Assist Kingy Hsu
Second Assist Andrei Blidarean
Model Paige Honeycutt @ Clyne
Makeup Kiekie Stanners @ Mac
Hair Raymond Robinson
Styling Paris Mitchell
Retouching One White Chair

james k. lowe
new zealand fashion week