“I am drawn to the regular or unconventional, don’t get me wrong beautiful people are beautiful, but life isn’t always beautiful,” says London-based photographer Richard Dowker. Originally from a village in Cumbria, Richard moved to London at the age of 19 to study photography at Middlesex University. Here, he learned the fundamentals of portraiture, developing a social documentary style which he now channels into his career as a portrait and fashion photographer.
Richard’s first major body of work was created during his studies, a series which is still ongoing titled Alone Together. A combination of portraits and quiet interiors, Alone Together depicts a series of men that Richard meets through dating apps and social media websites. With no romance or sex involved, Richard photographs these interactions as a means of exploring how the gay community has adapted to the technological and online world.
It was during his teenage years that Richard discovered a love for the photographic medium. “When I was about 16 I began photographing my friends as there wasn’t much to do up in the countryside,” he explains. Although interested in art from a young age, it was this period of time that prompted a decision to pursue photography as his chosen creative medium. “I knew I was drawn more to photography,” he recalls, “as a medium, there aren’t many limitations, you can document a moment of time and tell a narrative, which is something I really enjoy.”
Now an accomplished fashion photographer, Richard has carved out a distinctive aesthetic which unites a lot of his work, despite his varying clients. Awash with pink tones, his images are full of interesting characters whose stories are told through a mixture of soft lighting and adept compositions. “I like to work on projects that have an aspect of reality,” he tells It’s Nice That. “We’ve thankfully surpassed the over retouched images of the 90s and 00s and, in the last few years, we’ve all seen the rawness of analogue photography surge onto the scene.” Having used analogue techniques throughout his time at Middlesex, this shift has allowed Richard to explore his love of shooting on film for its fluid and intimate qualities.
This rawness is continued through to Richard’s choice of who he shoots. Often using social media to cast: “I think it’s nice, at times, to not photograph a ‘model’,” he explains. This was the case in a recent project for Vivienne Westwood after he discovered George Salt by searching Instagram and Facebook. In a series of images used for the fashion brand’s spring/summer 2018 social media campaign, Richard captured George alongside Aweng Chuol in a perfect balance of playfulness and eccentricity.
When working on a project with Lily Bling, “or Ryan to some friends and @nosejob to his online following,” it was ordinary men who became Richard’s photographic subjects. Titled LVLY, the series explores the concept of British masculinity and how it’s never associated with being glamorous. Richard adds, “I don’t associate myself with being glamorous but I did find the topic very interesting, as Lily is the epitome of that. We cast, styled and shot around 30 guys – trying to capture a broad range of age, ethnicity, sexuality, size… we actually would love to continue the project, maybe an LVLY tour of Britain but we will see!”
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