Hawkesworth DiariesA Conversation with Jamie

written by Christopher Michael


Boarding Schools
Hot and Cool Issue 7


Some would say he’s the face of a generation, he would say he’s just taking photographs. When you sit down and speak with Jamie Hawkesworth, you recognize the allure of his work in his absolute charm and disarming child like honesty that pervades his conversations, photographic or otherwise.

CM I want to start off with a random question. In an old interview you said that your pop culture defining moment in 2014 was shooting willow smith. I’m a huge fan and wanted to find out why…
JH I remember Teen Vogue asked me to shoot her in a studio, and I thought it would be really great if we could shoot it at her house. I spent an entire day there and it was nice to spend so much time with her and her family in such a personal space. It’s rare to have that kind of personal contact opportunity with someone like that.

CM Have you had anything similar happen in 2015? That has affected you in such a way?
JH Not really pop culture in that sense, but I’ve just been to Kashmir and that was an interesting experience. The United Nations website tells you not to go there due to all of the political issues. There has obviously been a lot of violence, so it was interesting for me to go there and do this project in the mountains and photograph all of the goat herders and people that make cashmere there. I suppose the flip side of pop culture are the political issues – so that was really an amazing opportunity as well.
CM Your personal work is such a huge part of your life and ties very much into the work you do for fashion. Do you think you would ever be fully satisfied with one without the other?

JH When I’m doing documentary stuff, it’s a great break from fashion and allows you to appreciate people, places, and things, but when you go back to fashion, you take what you’ve learned or what you’ve seen and you can interject that into the process. Then when you start doing that fashion project, you kind of think, “Oh, I’d love to get away and do something documentary.” So you appreciate one for the other. I would never want to do one without the other – it’s all just me taking photographs, I suppose.

CM You have such a tangible influence from the things you see while spending time on your personal work. Do you think that you are ever influenced by the work of others?
JH I would like to say that I am not but I probably am. That’s just the nature of the industry that we choose to be in; you pick up a magazine that your work is in and can’t help but to compare yourself to the story that’s after it. I’m probably influenced by people quietly…but not loudly, if that makes sense. (laughs)


photography by Jamie Hawkesworth
M le magazine du Monde, 2015








 Beyond by Lexus Magazine, 2014

CM Whenever the subject of exciting talent emerging from this generation arises in conversation, your name tends to be amongst the first mentioned. What do you think are some of the differences between your generation and those that have come before you in terms of approach or relationship with the work?
JH When I graduated from university, digital photography was fully going. There was a particular group of photographers that were doing well and being given the opportunity to produce work. It was kind of digital and towards that whole Mert & Marcus world- the glossy retouched world was really being pushed. I started to see quite a few clients, and I started to shoot, and always thought that it would be silly to change my approach from what I had just spent three years learning with analog cameras, how to color print – so I carried on printing on film. Also, I noticed that there was a real difference between personal work and fashion work. A lot of photographers, you would see their personal work and find that there was a real distinction. I always found that really strange. I think that distinction doesn’t exist with this generation.CM What is your relationship with the subjects in your photography? Do you prefer models? Real people?
JH For a long time, I couldn’t really understand how to photograph a model. When I started to assist photographers, I kind of just got on with my job as an assistant. I never really understood the idea of photographing a model, because at the time, I was very much doing my work. As in, going out and photographing people. So for a while, I kind of refused to photograph models and would just street cast because it was my way of keeping as close to my personal work as possible and to build a way where the distinction was less. After time, I started to realize that if I wanted to do fashion, I would have to understand how to articulate and translate to go from photographing a kid at a bus stop to photographing a model. I still don’t really know how it works in my head but I kind of just got on with it and tried to work it out. I’m still working it out but now- I love it. It opens up quite a lot in terms of your creative thinking of how you can take a model and bring them into your world. I think that also came from working with stylists that understood my work and I understood their work. That is a huge tool to photographing a model- your relationship with the stylist. If you’re both on the same page, the word model doesn’t even matter, it’s not a thing. You’re just photographing a person.




CM That chemistry you mentioned with the stylists…since co- ming over to the fashion side, have you ever found yourself struggling with the strong or stubborn point of view of an editor on set?
JH I think any stylist you work with has an extremely strong point of view and strong way of working- I think that’s just natural. Sometimes that relationship clashes, but that’s just part of it – with almost every stylist I work, there is conflict. I think that’s great- particularly with fashion photography, the idea of fighting against something can be good. For example, photographing people out on the street on my own, the last thing I want to do is ask them to take their portrait. It’s very daunting to walk up to a stranger and photograph them. It’s awkward for both people but that kind of energy brings something to it and I think that’s the same with fashion photography. So, I struggle with everyone- in a good way.CM Being as analog as you are, does that ever become an issue with clients?
JH To begin with, of course. But in my experience, if they want to work with you they will just get on with it. Like with commercial clients, as long as you can produce good work, they just let you get on with it.

CM Do you think there are certain benefits to shooting on film rather than inviting everyone and their mother to share their opinions as each frame pops up on the screen?
JH Yeah, when you’re working with a stylist and they know how you work – they understand the process and you can keep it quite tight. Less opinion is always better. Of course, it’s great to collaborate and I want the opinions of the team I’m working with, but it keeps it to the point so people aren’t just saying silly things here, there, and everywhere. It’s really about whatever works for you. I’m sure photographers that shoot digital love and encourage everyone to have an opinion and if that’s what works, then great! It just so happens that I shoot film and that’s the process that works for me.

CM Do you feel that interacting via the digital channels and platforms is an obligation you have as a photographer? Or what is your relationship with social media?
JH It comes down again to how you feel about other people’s work – for me, anyways. If your photographer friends or art directors that you work with or designers you work with have Instagram – it’s always great when they discover something and they post it. Just the other night, Jonathan Anderson posted this beautiful image that I may have not seen if I wasn’t on Instagram. Without going into too much of a boring thing about Instagram, I always think that you shouldn’t really look at that many pictures all of the time. When you look at loads of stuff – I feel like you’re sort of broadening your horizons a bit too much.

CM Do you have any particular people in your life or in the industry or in the world or characters that you consider a muse? Or does that take on a different shape and form each and every day?
JH I struggle with the idea of a muse; I’m not really sure what a muse is. I don’t really like photographing anyone that I really know. I have relationships with people and I love them and respect them but in terms of a muse…a muse is someone that I’ve come across at that particular second. Someone that you just have a reaction to – and then they are gone. If that makes sense?

CM It makes total sense. Do you think things have already changed since you first started taking pictures?
JH Yeah, many things. Like my understanding of people and this crazy industry in which we work. In terms of non-photography and all of the other things you have to navigate, my understanding of the way things work, I understand a little bit more. In terms of my photography, the more work you do, the more your body of work builds up and it all helps you understand what it is you are trying to say and do. It still always feels like I’m on the back foot, like I don’t really know what I’m doing. So I guess that hasn’t changed. Even if you do a campaign- that’s great, but then what do you do for the next one? So you’re back to square one, as a continued cycle of not really knowing what you’re doing. Things haven’t changed that much – just a general understanding, I suppose.
CM Nearly every single person of great talent that I’ve inter- viewed over the years always seems to say the same thing – which is that they don’t really know what they are doing. Isn’t it about a process and not an arrival destination?
JH That’s quite a nice way of putting it in terms of searching, I guess once you do understand what you’re doing then you’re probably fucked. (laughs)


Self Service F/W 2014
John Allen for Loewe, 2015
Preston bus station, 2010