Fashion photography with a pinch of the documentary; photographer Grant James-Thomas stumbled into the hybrid genre of travel fashion photography as a 17-year-old. Growing up on a farm in Wales, he found himself (just a few short years later) shooting for Vogue. Since then he’s travelled the world, photographing editorials in locations ranging from Kenya and Vietnam to Costa Rica, eventually settling in London but continuing to experiment with all kinds of photographic styles and subjects.
In a recent shoot for Vogue Italia, Grant and make up artist Bunny Hazel Clarke conceptualised a shoot based on the textured medium of painting. “We wanted to do something that was inspired by painting, rather than replicate other shoots people have already done,” Grant tells It’s Nice That. “Our whole mood board was actually just paintings and I think it was interesting to take inspiration from some random pieces that aren’t always literal,” he adds on the start of their process.
Titled Twins Beauty, the shoot features 16-year-old twins Kacie and Chloe in their modelling debut and scouted by Bunny herself. “The whole process was very wholesome,” Grant says on shooting the teenagers, “and I really couldn’t have done the shoot without Bunny as the shoot is just as much her vision as it is mine.”
He approached the shoot with a keen sensitivity which is an important factor for Grant when working with young models that have little experience of being photographed. “I really don’t want them to feel self-conscious or to overly question how we are asking them to look,” he says on the matter. “And luckily, they seemed to really enjoy the shoot despite the fact we were asking them to become quite creatively wild characters.”
Partly influenced by the aestheticism of Peter Lindbergh, Gregory Crewsden and Bruce Weber, Grant goes on to say: “It’s also hard not to be too influenced by the imagery I see on Instagram. It’s frustrating to think that a lot of my taste is probably completely dictated by social media.” It’s a valid query, and something we all fall prey to now and again. You see a certain style that lots of people post, and in turn, these images receive a certain sense of status in the canon of photography – or whatever creative medium it may be – making it hard to know whether you really like it or not.
In agreement, Grant continues: “A lot of my favourite photography doesn’t get that much attention on social media and I hate this inner subconscious battle to do something that is authentically for me because I’m also so influenced by how my other photos are received.” He’s gauged that, in general, people react better to images that are “easier to understand” like “traditionally beautiful” medium format work as opposed to his more bizarre 35mm work. With all things considered, Grant conjectures, “I just want to make something I’m really proud of with my photography.”
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