Nataal.com was born in 2015 as a platform to communicate the creativity coming out of Africa. It was launched by Sara Hemming, former art director at AnOther, Helen Jennings, former editor at Arise magazine, and Senegalese actor and director Sy Alassane. Focusing on fashion shoots, long form features and visual essays, Nataal collaborates with emerging artists around the world who are shaping global narratives around African culture.
This year, Nataal published its first annual print magazine, built around the theme “Future Gaze” and containing 336 pages of photography by well-known artists such as Viviane Sassen, Lorenzo Vitturi and Ayana V Jackson, as well as commissions by up-and-coming photographers such as Arielle Bobb-Willis. The photography is accompanied by in-depth editorials covering a range of topics including fashion, visual arts and music, as well as a short story by American-Ghanaian writer Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, and articles about contemporary African culture and business.
BJP spoke to creative director Sara Hemming and editorial director Helen Jennings about Nataal media and why photography is so integral to their magazine.
Holly Hay’s induction into publishing came by way of the fashion communication and promotion BA at Central Saint Martins. “That course was like training to work at a magazine,” she explains. “It was photography, journalism and graphic design, all meshed into one.” While on it she started taking her own photographs and after she left, she had a stint as a photographer. “It was all going quite well until I met more photographers, and realised I liked their work more than my own!” she laughs. “I discovered that I could create the images I wanted through other people, rather than myself.” Following this revelation, she shifted to a producer role, commissioning photographers, writers and stylists at the newly-conceived Garage magazine, before spending three years as the photographic editor at AnOther, fostering an extensive network of image-makers and collaborators. Now, just over eight months into her tenure as photography director of Wallpaper*, she’s making her presence felt in artist collaborations and visual journalism. How has the way you commission changed since joining Wallpaper*? I would describe the …
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.
Fiercely independent, Tom Johnson left school at 17 and dropped out of college, before setting up his own studio and carving out a career for himself in fashion photography. He’s now shooting for titles such as AnOther, SSAW, Buffalo Zine and Man About Town, as well as campaigns for Opening Ceremony and Faye Toogood, and is represented by Mini Title – whose founder first saw his work in BJP.
“A good project could be one of many different things,” says Vivienne Gamble, director at Seen Fifteen Gallery and Peckham 24. “Sometimes it will be the story that the photographer is telling that sets their project apart. The storytelling power of photography is one of the reasons that I’m most drawn to the medium. “I’m drawn to experimental projects, and to artists who are playing with or pushing the boundaries of photography,” she continues. “When it comes to choosing projects to show in the gallery, I look for ones that are going to expand beyond the confines of the gallery walls.” Gamble is one of the judges for this year’s BJP Breakthrough Awards, along with Emma Lewis, assistant curator at Tate Modern, Diana Markosian, photographer at Magnum Photos; Emma Bowkett, director of photography at FT Weekend Magazine; Maisie Skidmore, online editor at AnOther; Juno Calypso, artist; Hayley Louisa Brown, founder and editor of BRICK magazine and Lisa Farrell, head of exhibitions and events at British Journal of Photography. Now in their third edition, there are …