Newcastle-born photographer Ewen Spencer needs very little by way of introduction. With a career that started at The Face and Sleazenation, Ewen has transported subculture from sticky walled basement clubs across the UK into the grasp of the wider world via editorials spanning books, magazine pages and films, and shaped the face of British subcultures for the last 20 years in the process.
His latest offering is Caught By The River an epic editorial for Arena Homme +. Running to 46 pages, it’s the second of a three-part series for the magazine styled by Ewen’s “main collaborator”, fashion director Tom Guinness. “It began as an odyssey to the north east and a celebration of the cultural significance the region holds,” Ewen tells It’s Nice That. “I’m retracing my steps from adolescence taking a journey through style and music. It all stems from a conversation with Ashley Heath, editor in chief at Homme+.”
Describing the story as “semi autobiographical”, the nostalgia-tripping editorial features shots of both Ewen and his son Kuba. “My son is a model and creative in his own right,” Ewen says. “He has his own clothing brand, Le Reve, and travels to walk in fashion shows in New York etc. I wanted to shoot him as a muse to the story: he was 18 when this idea began so for him to take on the role of me or some kind of incarnation of my past self made sense to us both. He also takes great pleasure in poking fun at me so I’ve presented him with the perfect opportunity.”
The story marks a logical progression from the first part of the editorial, which zoomed in on nascent model and creative Kuba. “My son, Kuba was the only model in part one. I decided to have him transform in part two,” Ewen explains of the concept behind the editorial. “He travels south to London’s Soho after disillusion with his situation in Newcastle and becomes a ‘face’ in London. He makes new acquaintances and lives out a life in the capital that doesn’t quite fulfil his expectation. So we see a couple of more fellas appear besides my brief cameo. I always have a few ideas of people I want to shoot for instance Tobias is from Liverpool, he’s 17 and a devout mod.”
Watch the story unfold below, and hear more from Ewen at the November edition of Nicer Tuesdays.
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