Liz Johnson-Artur and myself go back a loooong way. In the days when I was interning at Arena Magazine (RIP) I accompanied her on shoots in Brixton as a fashion stylist’s assistant, and then when I became determined to become a photographer I began to assist her, memorably on a series of fashion shoots featuring posh girl models posing in posh country houses for the high society rag Tatler. They liked her quirkiness, and for us it was a great chance to see how the really rich live.
Jonno Ovans, Matt Bramford & Sally Mumby-Croft.
Liz was one of the few people who was willing to take me on at a time when I knew nothing about the technicalities of taking pictures – I still don’t know much to be fair, but that’s never hindered my love of photography. We’ve worked together many times since – she produced some wonderful early shoots for Amelia’s Magazine, then moved down to Brighton to bring her girl up in a more sedate environment than that surrounding the tower block in South London where she lived for many years.
ACOFI illustrator Antonia Parker.
She’s the perfect person to bring along to a party because she so delights in capturing extravagant folk of all types, so, when I needed someone to shoot Pete Doherty and co at play for an editorial piece that I wrote for Fader Magazine right at the height of his mania who better to call on than Liz Johnson-Artur? And then in January I thought of her to capture my ACOFI launch party attendees. Luckily it was easy to persuade her to leave her south coast idyl and join us for the afternoon.
6 Day Riot soundchecking.
Claire from Ballad Of Magazine.
When putting this blog post together I decided to ask her to answer a few questions: read on and be inspired. It’s always a total pleasure to team up with Liz. Mwah.
Rosie and Harriet of Tatty Devine.
What was your favourite part of shooting the ACOFI launch?
The most amazing thing was to see what you are doing. I am one of those people who was there when you started, and seeing your energy prosper in such a creative and committed way, is for an old friend, to say the least… very nice.
Why do you still prefer to shoot on film? What does it add to an image that you can’t get on digital?
I love to have the negative as a starting point and I love being in the darkroom – I wouldn’t want to give it up for no easy ‘perfect photoshop’. My hands have a chance to touch negatives and this is part of what I want my photographs to transmit, the sense of being in touch with all our senses. I think this is an especially important thing in these times. Shooting on film gives you time between the taking and the having. For me photography is a sensual experience – it’s not about perfection or quick turn over, but the journey that it takes to see the photograph. I think that the limitation that film offers is also the creative and spiritual freedom, and it is worth preserving.
Andrea Peterson at work.
You’ve got an amazing blog called Black Balloon Archive – what’s it all about?
My Black Balloon Archive started when I came to London and didn’t know much about the mix of the city. Growing up in Germany my access to black culture or communities was very much limited to black GIs, and standing in Brixton waiting for the bus I suddenly realised that I was in a place where all this could be explored. My camera was somehow a way of convincing people to let me in; there was never an aim or a strategy. All I wanted was to be let in – to look and learn.
Nina Dolcetti shoes.
Running up and down the stairs at 123.
Starting in London I developed this hunger to find Afro/Caribbean communities to document wherever I could… in Portugal, Germany, the US, France and finally last year in Russia. Being of Ghanain/Russian descent myself this was personally an amazing trip. The Black Balloon Archive blog presents some of the images which I find in my archive – it enables me to retell some of the stories and revisit the faces that I have met on this journey…
Johann Chan of Digital Arts.
What will you be shooting next?
That depends on what will cross my path, but I guess that somehow it will be always be connected to people and their stories.
Liz, you tell those stories so very well… so I think it’s best to just let the pictures do the talking.
Don’t forget to visit the Black Ballon Archive on your way out.
Illustrator Lesley Barnes.
The illustrators gathered and ready to draw the guests.
6 Day Riot, ACOFI, Afro/Caribbean, Amelia Gregory, Amelia's Compendium of Fashion Illustration, Andrea Peterson, Antonia Parker, Arena Magazine, Ballad Of, Ballad Of Magazine, Bitch Buzz, brighton, Brixton, Cate Sevilla, Courtney Blackman, Digital Arts, Dr.Hauschka, Forward PR, gabby young, Ghanain, Johann Chan, Jonno Ovans, Lesley Barnes, Lily Vanilli, Liz Johnson-Artur, Matt Bramford, Michelle Urvall Nyrén, Naomi Law, Nina Dolcetti, Prince Cassius, Rachel De Ste. Croix, Rosie and Harriet, Russian, Sally Mumby-Croft, Susie Bubble, Tamara Cincik, Tatler, Tatty Devine
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- Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration Launch Party: The Movie
- Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration launch party illustrations: meet Michelle Urvall Nyrén
- Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration launch party illustrations: meet Jenny Robins