With America in the claws of Trump, Britain on the precipice of Brexit and the power of big corporations stronger than ever, a new campaign to launch a book of the social history around protest is perfectly timed.
Having spent years documenting the protests of the late 80s and 90s, Matthew Smith has built up an extensive catalogue of images which embody the rawness and freedom of an earlier age. It was a time of rave culture and parties, where dance music was a refuge for the disenfranchised and the ostracised, uniting disparate sub-cultures into one mass movement.
Matthew Smith’s archives chronicles events that happened across the UK, and offer a rare and honest insight into the spirit of the times; the photographs depict stories rarely told.
It is now 23 years since Government acted to constrain youth culture in the UK by law and, Smith says “it is time to tell that story from the inside.”
“My intention was to bear witness to this culture and to provide a positive personal truth in order to counter mass media and political representation of the lowest kind.” Help bring the incredible archives into print by supporting the campaign on kickstarter, and thereby ensuring the legacy of protest and community remains enshrined in the contemporary mind.
Ben Rayner first made a name for himself photographing artists and musicians for Dazed & Confused and VICE, before transitioning into fashion photography. He has since become a regular fixture of magazines like Wonderland and Vogue. His talents have united him with the likes of Bella Hadid, ASAP Rocky and Alexa Chung, but he has always maintained an interest in producing his own personal work. Ben has published numerous zines and several monographs in the past. His latest project is a book made up of casually shot photographs that realise his aims of producing a photo diary of his day. Aptly named ‘Half Day’, the images have been shot in multiple locations and use an array of different formats, capturing fleeting and intimate snapshots of Ben’s life. Twin spoke to Ben about stealing moments, living in New York and the future.
Tell us about your new book.
The book is a monograph of moments photographed during 2014 and 2015. It’s made up of abstractions, portraits and landscapes. It’s a snapshot of the world as I saw it in those moments. I’m always taking pictures, so after I amass a collection of work I try to put it together in a somewhat coherent way. The book kind of has a fluid narrative of stolen moments in time.
Why did you decide to name the book ‘Half Day’?
I wanted to call the book ‘Half Day’ because it sounded optimistic and is a reminder that you still have half a day left.
A lot of your work has maintained a focus on fashion in the past. How does ‘Half Day’ divert from that?
I shoot a lot of fashion, but have always photographed everything around me. This is my fourth monograph and first hard cover book. I have also published countless zines. To me all my work is a reflection of my view of the world. I think some fashion images could have been dropped into the sequence of this book and still would have made sense. I like to steal moments from people and from the world.
Your photos have been described as ‘stopping time’ as opposed to capturing it. Why do you think that is?
I think sometimes I see things that other people don’t see, like a person’s fleeting expression. My aim is to connect with whoever and whatever I am shooting. I love photographing everyone, from famous models like Alice Dellal and Bella Hadid to actors and chefs.
You made the transition from London to New York. Do you think the change is reflected in your work? If so, how?
I don’t think so really. The images in this book are not very New York heavy. I tend to photograph things more where I don’t live. Although, I have been photographing my personal work in New York a lot more in the last few months.
What’s next for you?
I would like to do some still life photography, and more fashion stories, portraits and personal books. I have lots of ideas. I would also like to do a lot more video work in the future.
A casual, transient and less committed mindset typically pervades the actions of the millennial generation. And it’s a theme that has formed the basis of the latest issue of STEREOSCOPE, a St Andrews based photography magazine. Under the title No Strings Attached the magazine explores how this flippant and laissez faire attitude within youth culture has translated into the relationship with the camera. Throughout the issue, the tensions of trying to develop a serious dialogue with photography as a medium in an age where everybody has access to a camera are explored, and subjects range from hot new Brooklyn band ‘The Britanys’ to off-kilter self portraits and stylised tableaus.
Greece, Lauren Santucci
Entering its sixth year as a publication, STEREOSCOPE was founded as a means to celebrate the history of photography in St. Andrews by aligning the famous Special Collections of Photography and current St. Andrews photographer’s work. In a post-depression era where creative drive has become stunted by mounting student loans, the magazine has provided a platform for students in St. Andrews to showcase their work and discuss the current nature of photography.