Famously described by Susan Sontag in her 1964 essay Notes on ‘Camp’ as “a sensibility (as distinct from an idea)”, the appreciation of camp was born out of artifice and opulence, a vulgar fascination with theatrical exaggeration. And while it has long been tied up with LGBTQI culture, it has become a compelling way to convey messages without limits. “To me, camp is a very powerful thing,” says Phillip Prokopiou. “It’s a form of satire – a way to exaggerate and ridicule things that are very serious.” Prokopiou, a South Africa-born, London-based photographer behind an eponymous studio, which he co-founded with his partner-in-life-and-art Panagiotis Poimenidis, has long been fascinated with the power of kitsch to communicate our deepest hopes, fears and fantasies – whether they manifest in the form of a moustachioed Virgin Mary (stage name: Virgin Xtravaganzah) sitting chastely in the glow of ‘Gawd’’s glory, or an otherworldly extraterrestrial gazing into the distance.
Nadine Ijewere has been interested in fashion imagery since she was a girl but it wasn’t until she studied photography at the London College of Fashion that she began to pick up on some of its more unsettling undertones – particularly the stereotypes used in the portrayal of non-Western cultures. The Misrepresentation of Representation, an early project that she completed at university reflected on Orientalism and how it came to rigidly define certain cultures for a Western audience.
Yolanda Y. Liou is a self-taught photographer who began taking photographs in 2011 while backpacking through Europe, after her mum gifted her with a digital camera. Having had no initial intention of becoming a professional photographer, three years later she stepped into fashion photography. Despite it being challenging and competitive at times, Liou is constantly enchanted by the world of photography, and her work has been featured in GQ, Marie Claire, Elle and Grazia. Having moved to the UK seven years ago, Liou has been struck by her sense of belonging, particularly in the capital’s vibrant and exciting fashion industry. Her portrait is an attempt to show people the Britain she sees; full of people, laughter and opportunity. Can you tell me about the portrait you entered into Portrait of Britain 2018? What is the story behind it? Po Tseng Ho is a hair and makeup artist. The first time we met was while shooting an editorial about diversity. He was the hairstylist on the shoot and we immediately got on very well. He has …
Nigel Shafran first came to fame in 1990 with a series of images published by i-D; showing teenage shoppers in a down-at-heel precinct in Ilford, it was the antithesis of a high-end fashion shoot. His first venture into publishing, Ruthbook, had a similarly pared-down approach; showing his girlfriend shot mostly at home, in her dressing gown, say, or blowing her nose, alongside details such as crumbs on a kitchen work surface, a pot on the stove, or a hair stuck on a bar of soap. Shafran hand-wrote the title, in pencil, on all 600 copies. Now he’s found a new twist on this everyday approach, putting his work books on show. Dating from 1984 right up to 2018 they’re a creative insight into his working process and life, and a typically understated collection – though it’s the inaugural exhibition at Sion and Moore, the gallery run by Claire de Rouen’s Lucy Moore in the space that used to house Wolfgang Tillmans’ studio.
“The whole jury was in agreement that Eva has a very strong vision and that her work is characterised by a consistency both in aesthetic and content, since the concepts explored are the hot topics of our contemporary society,” says Alessia Glaviano, senior photo editor on Vogue Italia and member of the Hyères Festival photography jury this year – which has awarded the grand prix to Eva O’Leary. The New York-based photographer has won with a series called Spitting Image, which shows American girls aged 11 to 14 photographed while looking at themselves in a mirror. A project involving both photographs and videos, Spitting Image shows both the girls’ discomfort with being put in front of the lens, and the ways in which they – and others – present themselves for the camera.
Frederic Aranda is a photographer specializing in group portraiture. His work has twice been selected for Portrait of Britain, with both his winning images standing out for their dramatic feel and quirky composure. Aranda works against the grain. His images shirk traditionally hierarchical, staid forms of group portraiture, and aim for naturalism and diversity. Aranda was born in Switzerland but moved to the UK twenty years ago, initially to study Japanese at Oxford. A completely self-taught photographer, Aranda has since worked for a number of high-profile publications, including Vanity Fair and Vogue. He has also been shortlisted by The Times as Young Photographer of the Year, and his first photobook, Electric Fashion, was published by Skira in 2015, and launched at the V&A. Since being selected for Portrait of Britain, Aranda has won first prize for editorial in the Swiss Photo Award, for his portfolio of group projects. How did you create the selected portraits that you entered into Portrait of Britain 2016, and what are the stories behind them? I had two images selected: …
“I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other,” says South African photographer Zanele Muholi. Born in 1972 in Umlazi, a township close to Durban, Muholi defines herself as a visual activist using photography to articulate contemporary identity politics. In her latest series, Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness, she uses her body to confront the politics of race and representation, questioning the way the black body is shown and perceived.
Fashion photography is changing – as Holly Hay and Shonagh Marshall, co-curators of a new three-part project entitled Posturing: Photographing the Body in Fashion, will attest. In November 2017, the pair held a London exhibition which placed 42 framed photographs and six magazine shoots in a west London space. It called into question both the function of this branch of contemporary image-making and the changing role of the figure in fashion imagery, placing work by Johnny Dufort, Marton Perlaki, Charlie Engman, Brianna Capozzi and others side by side. The show was followed by a specially commissioned film by artist Coco Capitán, Learning to Transcend the Physical Barrier That Owning a Body Implies, examining the respective practices of a choreographer, an artist and the founder of a traditional film-based darkroom, interrogating physical selfhood in all of its guises. This month, they launch the third part – a book created with Self Publish, Be Happy, in which photographers, stylists, editors and set designers respond to ideas about the body in fashion.
Thomas Morgan’ winning portrait is of Malick Darbo, a young model just starting out in the industry. The aim for the image and wider series was to highlight the beauty of dark skin, which has been underrepresented in the fashion industry for many years. Thomas maintains a particular interest in fashion photography. Since being given his first DSLR camera on his 17th birthday, he has spent time curating shoots with his family and friends. In 2016, he arranged a shoot with a friend he thought could be a model. Off the back of those images, his friend got signed to a modelling agency, and Thomas was invited to test shoot and build up portfolios for new models, giving him room to experiment with style and technique. Being selected as our People’s Choice Weekly Winner is the first public recognition Thomas has received for his work. Can you tell me about the portrait you entered into Portrait of Britain 2018? What is the story behind it? For a while I have wanted to do a series …
“The idea for Paper Journal came about during my final year of studying photography at Westminster,” says founding editor Patricia Karallis. Though studying she was also working as a picture editor for a small online arts and culture magazine at the time, and had found that she really enjoyed the research aspect of the role but also had “many ideas in terms of content that didn’t quite fit where I was working at the time”. The answer was simple – she decided “to start my own platform”. She launched Paper Journal online in 2013, with the aim of showcasing photography, fashion and culture in an exciting way. Featuring photography from unknown or new image-makers alongside more established names, Karallis says, “we love to promote new photography and I think that’s been a really strong point for us, and one that draws readers back to the site.”