Venetia ScottA CONVERSATION WITH VENETIA
interview by Katie Baron
editorial creative consultant Tom Watt
“Integrity?” Asks photographer Venetia Scott, “It’s about being true to yourself in the moment, and taking the time to work out what that truth is. I don’t think it’s about having to stick to one thing.”
Making the time to dig deep and deliver an honest, personal sentiment has long been the lifeblood of Scott’s creative signature. Satisfyingly conspicuous in its contrast to the hyper stimulated, desperate-to-please pace that the digitised era has coerced upon the creative industry, Scott’s methodology is firmly wedded to ‘slow’ and is as evident in her work now, as an acclaimed photographer, as it was pre-2006 when she was predominantly lauded as a stylist.
From her early days collaborating with French photographer Michel Haddi, when they would take trips and cast when they arrived, to the similarly spontaneous convention dispensing road trips with longterm cohort, German photographer Juergen Teller, Scott has thrived on wide open spaces beyond the sped-up perimeters of city life. She loves both California and Cornwall, saying of the latter “you have to earn your place some other way – by warmth, or maybe good conversation; it’s somehow outside normal conventions,” and continues to orchestrate shoots that require her entire crew to journey with her out into the countryside or wilderness. In Scott’s world, such geographical distances bring a metaphorical freedom; the intimacy of the shared experiences delivering a unique bond.
“It’s quite hard now to push everyone through to a place of intimacy because people are so distracted by their phones, I’d like to ban devices for the duration of the shoot but it would cause panic. I think there’s a lot to be said for not being too preoccupied or emotionally diverted,” says Scott.
Her allegiance to slow is of special significance right now, as the increasingly incessant commercial demands of the fashion industry, luxury and high street alike, have begun to bleed seasons that were once cle- anly defined (twice a year was fine, thanks) into one another.
With Pre-Fall and resort having brazenly nudged their way into the established fashion calendar it’s a seasonal creep capable of causing less visionary image makers to suffer an identity crisis.
“I feel that, because of this squeezing of time, everything’s going towards a failsafe route of being given to someone who’s competent and not a risk. The resulting shoots are often formulaic and unsurprising. Compressed time leaves no time for dialogue – no time for the kind of alchemy that happens when you make space. I believe in sitting still, believing in yourself, pulling other people towards you,” says Scott.
That sense of connection, and by proxy a level of bewitching honesty, is never more lucid or powerful than in Scott’s images of women. This issue unites many of those women by spotlighting a series of images shot over the course of some eight years since Scott segued fully from styling into photography – a transition she says came entirely naturally, the result of needing to shoot to achieve the images she’d begun envisioning. Each image is a head shot portrait, cropped from a larger original image. The effect (entirely unintentionally) exudes more than a little of the police line-up about them – albeit semi-erotic, with the women assuming the role of perpetrator, not victim. Models Kate Moss, Malgosia Bela and Hilary Rhoda all feature – all unequivocally commanding in their direct-to-camera confidence; every one defiantly railing against fashion’s more standard, hollow fantasies.
Download MUSE 38 – Digital Issue to read the full interview.