Conversations Photography The Bureau

The Bureau: Kevin Davies

By Drake's

2022년 7월 13일

The Bureau: Kevin Davies

Portrait Photographer

I liked photography going into art school, but my intention was always to paint. I soon realised that I couldn’t. I explored printmaking in my second year combined with photography. Believing art school was about investigation, I joined the sculpture department for my final year. I was very lucky that a tutor observed that my photographs of my sculptures were much better than the sculptures themselves. 

Portraiture is an invitation to meet a wide variety of interesting people. I recently photographed over twenty fashion designers: same job description but they were all unique (and so were their studios). It is exciting to arrive at a studio or a home not knowing what the person will be like or the interior. It could be a beautiful sunny day or a dark wet London day in July. Sometimes there is the luxury of hours and sometimes it's all over in ten minutes. Unlike, say, still life photography, where in my experience there is a satisfaction in knowing you have got the picture, with portraiture there can be a feeling of doubt. That makes it special and encourages me to improve, adapt and experiment.

(Self Portrait, 2016)




(Moscow - 1988)

In the late '80s I travelled to Russia for a magazine to shoot portraits of Youth Culture. Collecting my luggage at the airport I met a photographer, who was shocked that I had not brought a suitcase of tinned food. I had been told to bring a plug for the hotel sink but not food. It was winter and the brief was to shoot outside, with the subjects wearing clothing that reflected what they did rather than clothes to protect them from -15c temperatures. Analogue cameras can seize at this temperature so my Hasselblad had been sent off to be dismantled, the inside greased, re-built and so on, just as a precaution. The pattern was go outside, shoot one roll of film and then run back inside to keep warm. Repeat as necessary. I photographed a singer from a band, with a dancer in a leotard on a snow covered balcony. Each time I repeated the dancer suggested I looked over the balcony at the street below. Each time more people had gathered and were staring upwards. He explained someone would call the police because of our behaviour so we left immediately. I am very fond of the photographs from that trip, especially the dancer on the balcony.

(Philip Treacy, Ascot '02)

Philip Treacy let me into his creative world in 1991. I can honestly say there has never been a dull moment, from creating 30 hats for the Royal Wedding to designing a hotel in Galway. And Grace Jones! I had originally asked to hang out at his studio and capture him working. As the relationship developed it became more casual... 'come along and see what happens'. In 2002 Philip made a hat for Naomi Campbell for her first visit to the Royal Ascot. He was going to the Ascot to fit the hat and asked me to join him. After we arrived at Naomi's hotel room, Philip set to ironing her dress, while she applied her own make up. There was no team. I was capturing this seemingly normal situation of two extraordinary people. I needed a test polaroid of the hat and Philip's partner Stefan obliged. We all helped with the dress. Naturally we were running late so a helicopter was organised but by the time we got to the hotel car park a no-fly zone had been set up around the venue. An open-top Bentley was quickly found and we waved Naomi off.

 (Chantal Joffe 21.3.00)

Philippe Halsman said that "a true portrait should, today and a hundred years from today, be the Testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was". For me I try to achieve a natural likeness, hopefully some truth and some spirit of that person at that time, on that day. Oh, and a visually entertaining image.

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