Standing out in the ever-changing fashion industry is a challenge for most, but not for Jamie Hawkesworth. Renowned for his street-cast models, unglamorous locations and documentary aesthetic, the young photographer is subtly spearheading change for fashion photography. Chatting to Glamcult, the artist reveals all behind his notorious collaborations, his Amsterdam show and how he’s taking fashion back to the streets.
When traipsing through worthwhile fashion publications, it’s hard to find one Jamie Hawkesworth hasn’t shot for. At only 29 years old he’s played a huge role in forming the visual identity of J.W.Anderson and worked on innovative projects with the likes of Miu Miu, Loewe and Alexander McQueen—let alone having shot editorials for Dazed, AnOther, W Magazine and Vogue (US, UK and Paris) to name just a few. But Hawkesworth’s soaring success doesn’t end there. In fact, this British talent has injected a new lease of life into fashion photography; while gazing into his images you’ll find yourself swept away into a dreamy, pastel- coloured haze. Fashion photography is evolving hand-in-hand with fashion itself; gone are the tedious days of in-your-face consumerist photography, it’s time to revel in the documentary-come-fashion aesthetic. As Hawkesworth says, “It’s nice to reflect on the diversity of people.”
The British photographer comes as a breath of fresh air with his soft and sunlit portraits offering a dose of authenticity to fashion campaigns. Whether he shoots kids picked off the street dressed in designer labels or candids of models in juxtaposing diptychs, Hawkesworth’s images are bursting with originality and character. Using analogue processes, each poetic image has a refreshing depth and rawness that separates it from a cluster of “classic” fashion shots. Swapping out over-edited, over-stylized adverts, the London-based photographer delivers romanticized tableau-style images, giving consumers a snapshot of (dreamy) realness. “It’s a reflection of our time, what people’s aspirations are and what people find interesting. It’s nice to have your head in the clouds, it’s a case of mixing that fantasy with realism.”
Shockingly, Hawkesworth didn’t initially set out to be a photographer. But despite beginning a course in forensic science at the University of Central Lancashire in 2007, the Suffolk-born talent was always destined for a different path. Upon discovering a love for the medium when taking photos of reconstructed crime scenes, he found his passion in documentary photography. Grabbing his camera and shooting street-style photography was where the budding artist really found happiness: “I felt like I could do it all day…” Which is exactly what he did, as well as transferring to the university’s photography department. Sitting in Preston Bus Station, some days 12 hours at a time, Hawkesworth captured striking characters that travelled through. Four years later these images were published in an exhibition at the same bus station and soon will mark the pages of his first book, Preston Bus Station. Primarily catching the industry’s attention—especially that of Julie Brown, who later signed him to her influential MAP agency—with this reflective portfolio, Hawkesworth quickly became one of the fashion world’s most sought-after photographers.
Unlike too many of us, the photographer never fails to see the small details and the beauty in otherwise mundane aspects of life, which is a trait that has fared him well. Known for his contemporary tableau-style shots and suspended landscapes, Hawkesworth, like many other talented practitioners of our generation—think: Mel Bles, Harley Weir, Masha Mel and Daisy Walker—stands as a figurehead of change while embracing a renewed form of nostalgia. With their ethereal aesthetic, natural tones and unglamorous locations, these new-gen photographers rewrite the rules of capturing fashion. When asked how he perfected his documentary-come-fashion style, Hakesworth responds: “I moved to London to start assisting as well as doing documentary stuff so I could pay my rent. I started assisting fashion photographers because there was a lot more of them. I was simultaneously learning about fashion while also doing documentary work so they naturally merged together.”
A key ingredient to Hawkesworth’s majestic imagery is his unique preferences when it comes to models. Using street-cast models enables him to bring his signature documentary style into the fashion world as much as possible: “When you’re taking pictures by yourself, it’s an incredibly different experience to taking fashion images. I like using a street cast because the models have a certain sense of authenticity and it keeps my head in the same world as what I used to do by myself. It helps articulate the photograph into something that looks like an image I would take alone.” Turning his lens to these (unique) subjects—picture eccentric red hair, gorgeous “imperfections” and the best-dressed youth—is exactly what makes Hawkesworth’s images so compelling and surely a pivotal quality in regards to his enigmatic success. Despite being at the top of his game, seducing us with candid portraits, the British talent hesitates when discussing the (glamorous) world of fashion. When asked what the best thing about being in the fashion industry is, he pauses and indirectly confesses that his heart still belongs to documentary photography, but then continues to admit some perks of the fashion world. “The level of creativity is amazing. You’re given the ability to do whatever your mind can imagine and it’s out in the world very quickly. In that respect it’s quite investing.” It comes as no surprise that there are hang-ups to the ever-changing industry: “It can be hard to continue to grow and articulate your vision in a way that works with other people and what they want to do. Some brands want it a lot more commercial than others, sometimes it’s a struggle to keep your grip on things.”
Collaborating with some of fashion’s biggest and most creative names is a regular occurrence for this photography sensation. When quizzed on his high-end collaborations, Hawkesworth candidly discusses his long-term partnership with man-of- the-moment—and forever a Glamcult favourite—Jonathan Anderson (of J.W.Anderson), referring to him, of course, on a first name basis. “It’s one that’s grown very much from the start—I did a campaign with Jonathan right from the beginning and it’s a relationship that’s built from the there, it’s very natural. In the case of something like Miu Miu, that’s such an established house and you come in to do your thing but you don’t really have a close relationship with the designer.” He continues to divulge a recent project with one of the most influential stylists of all time, explaining, “I just did a story with Joe McKenna! He’s quite a formidable character and he’s very strong-minded so it’s very lovely when you do something that works well with him.”
A ploy, as we all know, that is often used in media and advertising is the romanticized notion of modern love. When you look at Calvin Klein’s notorious campaign images of Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg—and let’s be honest, most of the brand’s adverts to date—it’s clear that love sells. “It’s the most universal thing. Everyone at some point has felt love (well, I hope so) and advertising tries to focus on something familiar, they are trying to tap into the idea of love.” This notion seems to be a shared theme within contemporary fashion culture, perhaps because it adds that second dimension to the image, alluring us with a sense of familiarity but also teasing us with something we all long for. Speaking of modern love, the ever-humble photographer—obviously a romantic at heart—reveals how he dedicated a section of his upcoming solo exhibition to his girlfriend and top model Mica Arganaraz: “There is one room dedicated Mica. What’s so lovely about Huis Marseille is that (as its name suggests) it feels very much like a house. There are really small rooms up at the top and big rooms in the middle. One of the smaller, more intimate rooms contains all the work I did of Mica.” [Swoon.]
In the early days of September, Hawkesworth unveiled Landscape with Tree in Amsterdam. The photographer concludes: “It fills the whole museum so you navigate yourself through 14 (!) rooms. Each room is very much its own experience and has its own project. One room presents all the images I did in Russia and then you walk through to the Congo and then to India…” Make sure you embark on Hawkesworth’s expedition—inimitably blurring the line between fact and fiction, and promising to be much more than a fashion, photography or fashion-photography exhibition.