May 2016

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Our latest issue looks at the image-makers doing creative commissioned work for smart brands using photography in innovative ways.

Shooting on Assignment. We bring you a selection of the world’s leading creatives to discuss the best in commissioned photography. Featuring the creative duo behind KENZO’s rebrand, Klaus Pichler’s bonkers brandbook for Schock, fashion photographer Alasdair McLellan and Max Pinckers’ residency in Japan. Plus, Clément Saccomani from Noor agency on sponsored group projects, Archisle on building a new photographic legacy in Jersey, Liv Siddall on commissioning for Rough Trade’s new music magazine, and we test the Fuji’s much anticipated X-Pro2 camera and Phottix’s versatile flash heads.

We look at what might just be the photographer’s holy grail: creative commissioned work. We’re seeing more brands take an enlightened view on imagery, allowing photographers the freedom to create cutting-edge work…

REBIRTH OF A BRAND

Upon joining the brand in 2012, Kenzo’s creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon recognised that striking photography was the key to revitalising the French-Japanese brand.

They look for collaborators with a strong point of view and allow their style to come through, employing the likes of Lorenzo Vitturi, Jean-Paul Goude and Synchrodogs to make cutting-edge adverts, branded content and lookbooks. The pair tell Jessica Gordon how they used photography to solidify Kenzo’s quirky new voice.

“WE SAID, ‘WHAT CAN WE DO THAT WOULD INJECT SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND OFF-KILTER AS YOU’RE FLIPPING THROUGH A MAGAZINE BUT STILL HAVE THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE BRAND WE WERE BUILDING?’”

NORTHERN SOUL

Alasdair McLellan has carved out a world-class career with his elegant fashion and portrait photography, fusing references as myriad as David Sims’ photography and 90s British boybands, to create a unique take on fashion imagery. He’s shot Justin Bieber for Fantastic Man and Adele for The Gentlewoman, but he’s also photographed the British Army’s ceremonial guards “to have something about real men, not create this crazy fantasy with the fashion of the season”.

Having shot for the likes of i-D, Arena Homme Plus and British Vogue, the Yorkshire-born photographer’s ability to tell a story that fits within a brand identity has earned him commissions from fashion labels Louis Vuitton and Margaret Howell. He speaks to Diane Smyth about why he prizes “high-and-low culture”, photography as memory and having the courage to be yourself.

“YOU REALLY NEED TO PUT YOURSELF IN THE PICTURES SO YOU CAN DRAW FROM YOUR EXPERIENCES – TO DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FROM EVERYONE ELSE, BECAUSE ONLY YOU CAN DO THAT”

TWO KINDS OF MEMORY AND MEMORY ITSELF

In the West, Japan can often be reduced to a crude set of fantasies – a well-preserved nation of sumo wrestlers, drunk businessmen and demure geishas. But when Brussels-based Max Pinckers arrived there via a commission from the Belgian cultural project, European Eyes on Japan, he couldn’t find much of the myth.

This conflict between what he’d almost been conditioned to expect and what he found is explored through Two Kinds of Memory and Memory Itself – a series of staged images the 28 year old shot in the contemporary Japanese landscape.

“PROJECTED AS OTHER AND ISOLATED, JAPAN’S UNIQUE SELF-IMAGE IS IN PART SELF-CREATED UNDER THE PROJECT OF NATION-BUILDING, AS WELL AS BEING A CONSTRUCT OF OUTSIDE PERSPECTIVE AND FETISHISATION.”