Interviewed by Grace O'Sullivan
The Croft Magazine//Having already shot at Fashion Week, Will's recent 'Samsāra' project bursts with images that refuse to be diluted. While the content may seem eclectically random, each image is actually laced with intentional symbolism; the project is a contemporary reinterpretation of the Buddhist Bhavachakra. We learn more about this, and Will's other ambitions, in this conversation.
How did you come up with the concept for your Samsāra project?
My project pays homage to the Buddhist Saṃsāra concept (the cycle of death and rebirth). I decided to work through the fourth layer of The Bhavachakra, The Twelve Nidānas, which details the cause-and-effect process of suffering. It also provides greater insight into the workings of karma. I merged these concepts with modernity through a surrealist lens; flash lighting, disengaged poses and ambiguous locations characterised my fashion constructions.
My constructions are an allegory of modern Samsāra and the 12 Nidānas. I adopted symbols from religious and ancient artwork while satirically commenting on contemporary affairs. I aimed to transform mundane locations into surrealist grandeur tableaux while exploring voyeurism. I am thrilled with this project’s journey, with the final images being self-published in a magazine and exhibited in our degree show. I feel like I have grown immensely from this project.
What, or who, have been some of your biggest inspirations?
Pre-university, I observed more ‘conventional' fashion photographers such as Nick Knight, Corrine Day, and Tim Walkers. But as my practices developed, I explored individuals who shared my approaches, like Johnny Dufort, Nadia Lee-Cohen, and Raphael Bliss. Their hyperreal images use flash lighting and vacant, domestic spaces. I also research stylists’ approaches to assembling looks using unconventional garments and how that translates into an image. I am currently enjoying Betsy Johnson and Lotta Volkova’s deconstructed looks.
When researching my recent project, Saṃsāra, I explored voyeurism, privacy, the internet, and the panopticon (where the surveilled is the victim of a constant, watchful eye). This fascination led me to the hyperreal, resulting in the visual aesthetic of Saṃsāra. I also explored ancient art, looking at The Renaissance period: the Hellenistic stature, human form and heavenly lighting manifested in my use of grandeur tableaux and ambiguous empty spaces. The Baroque and religious artworks from this period inspired me too.
How was shooting at Fashion Week? Did you find it intimidating?
I have taken part in fashion week for three years. In 2020, I shot street style over AW22 - capturing the looks of editors, celebrities, and models outside the show venues. Lacking industry connections, I scoured Instagram stories and press releases to find the show locations. I had shot street photography before, so I incorporated what I knew and threw myself into things. I shot over three days, sharing the images on my story and tagging those in the frame, which started my industry networking. I met significant individuals by positioning myself outside shows and sending them my images.
After lockdown, I was well-positioned to reach out again, and landed a production assistant job with a PR company. I assisted in producing Fashion Week runway shows and worked with brands such as Paul and Joe, David Koma, and Instituto Marangoni. I returned each season, occupying superior roles and expanding my network. As my confidence increased, I voluntarily shot some behind-the-scenes content. After making a behind-the-scenes showreel for Paul and Joe, the PR company asked me to shoot something similar for David Koma. This led to an internship on a modelling agency’s social team. I felt intimidated initially, but I realised that kindness and hard work get you far. People recognise when you’re enthusiastic, and I introduced myself to everyone I have met. Without throwing myself in at the deep end, I wouldn’t have found the network and opportunities I've been given.
Who would be your dream portrait subject?
Hunter Schafer...Rihanna ... Kate Moss.
Where has been your favourite location to shoot? Where would you love to shoot if you could go anywhere?
I think shooting at an old bingo hall in Somerset. Although it was challenging to light and move around, its kitschy interior was fun to work with. Also, anywhere in nature.
Do you want to keep working in Bristol? What do you think the city offers to artists as inspiration? I plan to stay in Bristol longer, where I can complete personal projects and commute to London for any assistant work. Concerning my fashion photography career, I must eventually move to London, but Bristol is a great stepping stone. It’s a creative hub with many photography institutions and a great music and queer scene.
| All images credited to Will Price-Lockyer. |
| Copy Editor: Honey Ryder |