meet the photography duo documenting the places and faces of the modern hip-hop scene
Imran Ciesay and Solomon Boyede of Places + Faces share a preview of their new zine with i-D.
It's pretty safe to say we live in the age of the image. Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, Periscope and Vine are now not a way of life; we see images first and ask questions later. This has spawned a wealth of new photographic talent who document the world and subcultures within it for current and future generations. Two of our new favorites are London-born Imran Ciesay and Solomon Boyede (Soulz), aka Places + Faces. Ages 23 and 24 respectively, the photography duo started on their journey during a trip to New York, "I wasn't a photographer at the time," Ciesay admits. "But I was bored and had a camera, so I just went around the city, shooting different events."
In the two short years since, they've photographed Kanye West, Skepta, and A$AP Rocky as well as the places and faces that animate 2016's hip-hop scene. After an exhibition of their work last year in Shoreditch, the pair are back with the third installment of their zine, featuring a bunch of new and notable subjects, like Travis Scott and Drake. Where their lens goes, others will follow, so i-D chatted with the pair about the how they approach their images, their journey so far, and where they want their photography to take them.
How did you both meet?
Soulz: We were both a part of a creative collective before, and after I left and had the idea of Places+Faces, I asked Ciesy to join me.
How long have you been taking photos for and why did you start?
Ciesy: I've been taking photos for three years now. I used to make videos but got bored, so when I was in New York, I started trying out my hand in photography. People liked my stuff, so I kept going.
Soulz: I started taking photos during my first year of university as an outlet to express my creative thoughts.
What do you look for when searching for new subjects or places to photograph?
Soulz: I usually look for what appeals to my own interests rather than looking at who other photographers target. So, for example, if it's a location I generally like or have some sort of history with, I'll take pictures. The same thinking is applied to the subjects we shoot, whether it's a artist or a person.
Ciesy: I don't really look for locations or subjects; I just like exploring and if I see something that catches my eye at the time, then I'll shoot it. A lot of our work is in the moment and never planned; it just happens!
Do you find people receptive to wanting to have their photographs taken in party situations? If not, how do you navigate this?
Soulz: Most of the times at parties people are drunk and having good time so they don't really mind, but in some situations it's good to ask them if they want their photo to be taken.
Ciesy: Yeah, most of the time people are drunk and because we shoot on 35mm people see us taking photos as playful toy. We just love capturing people's moods in all different situations. But people at parties are their most happy and care free.
Why do you think it's important to constantly be documenting underground scenes given we live in the age of Instagram and instantaneous imagery?
Soulz: The internet is evolving every day through social media and other outlets. I feel it's still important to document scenes if you have the chance because things move so fast. In 10-20 years from now, we will be looking back at these moments in time the same way we look at old VHS footage or a cassette tape.
Ciesy: To us, it's very important because I want people to look at our photos in like 10, 20 or 100 years and have an idea of what the scene was like at this point in time.
What is one of your favorite photos in the upcoming zine?
Ciesy: There's a great photo of Skepta beating A$AP Nast on Street Fighter with his eyes closed!
Who would you most like to photograph that you haven't already?
Ciesy: Bill Murray.
Soulz: R.Kelly or Bill Murray.
What are you looking to do next with Places + Faces?
Ciesy: More exhibitions and would love to do a pop-up store and a book -- things that I can look back on when I'm older and think to myself, "fuck we really did that!"
Photography Imran Ciesay and Solomon Boyede