1883 Magazine

Photographer Philip Trengove is anything but emerging, having shot for the likes of Dazed and Confused, worked with House of Holland, Molly Goddard, British designer Thomas Tait and now the SS16 Look Book for Faustine Steinmetz.

But what’s it really like to find your way in an increasingly competitive fashion world and digital platforms? How do you get started in the industry? 1883 caught up with the photographer after his shoot No. 8 was published on our site last month. In his first ever interview he discusses why you should be cheeky, sexy lines, and of course the allure of fashion week.

How would you describe your work?

I like to keep it simple and minimal. It’s a bit melancholic I guess. I quite like stillness and sadness so I try to get some of that in it. It’s about finding those little moments, even with the backstage fashion stuff. Somebody also once described my work as romantic, something I’d never thought of myself.

What inspires you?

There are a few photographers who I admire: Irving Penn, Nadav Kander and my favourite photo ever is a Paolo Roversi portrait of Natalia Vodianova. It’s just beautiful. I also like photographers whose work is nothing like mine like Philip Lorca DiCorcia and Gregory Crewdson.

Another inspiration would be music. If you look at the photos by those two photographers with the right music on the photos come alive. I advise you to look at Philip Lorca DiCorcia whilst listening to Sigur Ros. In fact if I could drop photography I’d become a musician.

Nick Knight is another influence, amazing. He recently did a shoot with model Molly Bair; she’s amazing and looks like an alien!

How did you develop your own signature style?

I really like film photography but I have zero patience and it just costs so much to do. It comes from when I was studying my degree: one of my lecturers was showing me a couple of tricks in Photoshop to make digital photos look like film. So I started there, then I played with desaturation, and over the years its developed into what it is now.

Even the way I work is really simple - usually only a small amount of post production is done on my photos. I’ll maybe clean up a couple of spots and then apply my filters, so I can edit a photo in minutes, which comes in handy during fashion week. It’s all about keeping it simple - I don’t want to start doing things that make my photos looks like something other than what I’ve photographed. I like to keep it natural.

Your work features a lot of straight lines. Take us through this.

It probably comes from the fact that I studied graphic design for a while at Falmouth University for a while. But I like neatness and I like order. Simplicity. Yeah lines are sexy, lines are good.

Tell us a bit about starting off with 1883.

It was while I was still doing my degree. One of my lecturers at Plymouth was advising me to try and become professional before I went out into the big world. One of the things I was doing was looking for people who showcase up and coming talents and 1883 were one of the first I came across. I think I just found your magazine in WHSmiths, had a look through, really liked the style and thought that my style would fit. I sent off an email saying "I’m new! Would you like to use me for anything" - almost pleading I think! Then I got a reply saying "Yeah, come and do fashion week with us". And that’s how it started. I did about 3 or 4 seasons at London Fashion Week with 1883, then with Dazed, and now with designers.

One of the advantages of working for people like Dazed is that your photos get picked up on social media and shared all over the place, especially when the designers like them, then they get used on their social media too."

What advice or steps would you give to budding photographers who want to shoot fashion week or want their work in publications such as 1883, Dazed & Confused, i-D?

It is rare that you would go straight to somewhere like Dazed. 1883 is really good, it’s for new people, giving them a platform to be seen while allowing them to cut loose and do their thing. I started with 1883, and got picked up by Dazed, which then led to everything else. Advice though?
Be cheeky! If you don’t ask you don’t get. Send out emails and get out there, be everywhere! Be on Instagram, Twitter…. hashtag the shit out of everything! [1883 would agree. We find a lot of photographers through social media]

So going back to you shooting with designers. Who is your favorite and what makes them so special?

I personally like the emerging designers. Last season I shot for Molly Goddard and she put on an amazing presentation which was like an art school life drawing class. The models had easels and paint boards and there was a naked old guy in the middle of it. That is brave. Brave of the guy to sit there completely stark naked with hundreds of people filing in and out taking photos. And her clothes as well, I like stuff that’s got lots of texture to it but is also quite simple and Molly Goddard’s stuff is really good. Faustine Steinmetz, she herself is really great and she puts a lot of thought into the way she presents her clothes. This season she had models coming out of walls, if you didn’t see it check it out its really good.To wear myself, I really like Margaret Howell’s stuff; if Margaret Howell wanted to hire me and pay in clothes, I’d be okay with that.

Talking about fashion week, how would you sum it up?

The first thing I would say: it is exactly how you would expect it to be. But that’s not necessarily bad. There’s a lot of fun, a lot of energy going on involving the shows. Photographing backstage is amazing! Parties are usually fun and the networking opportunities are really good. You have the best-dressed people in the world but you also have some of the worst, which I find funny. It’s chaos and fun. And I advise any young photographer interested in fashion to do fashion week.

To view Philip’s editorial ’No. 8’ for 1883 click here, and for more info head to www.philiptrengove.com.

Words by Shannon Darby-Jones @shannondarbyj
All photography by Philip Trengove

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