Emily Horgan chats with the groundbreaking Irish fashion photographer
Over the past few years, more and more people are opening their minds to the world of photography. Fashion photography is no longer just an aloof size 8 model in front of a white screen. It consists of shapes, light and artistic interpretations, allowing the true art of fashion shine through.
One man who is currently breaking the mould of Irish photography and fashion photography is Alex Hutchinson, a Dublin based photographer with a strikingly unique and distinctive style. “It never really occurred to me that I wanted to be a photographer growing up,” he admitted. From a young age, Hutchinson wanted to be an airforce pilot. However, when a failed eye test meant this dream was no longer obtainable, he used his eye for a more artistic line of work. “I didn’t pick up a camera until I was about 26, but once I took my first image I felt compelled to do it over and over again,” he explained, “I bought a camera, quit my job and went travelling with it. The greatest decision I ever made.”
It is a grey area as to whether Alex Hutchinson can be described as specifically a fashion photographer or not – he himself admitted that fashion is not his top priority when it comes to his shoots. “I really struggle to place myself within a genre,” Hutchinson divulged. “Fashion photography is inherently about the clothes, and my work is inherently about the person. It’s hard to bring across a raw emotive style when someone wants simple shots of their clothes.” So where does he find his inspiration from, with no real genre to adhere to?
“There are a couple of images that have stuck in my head and I look back on and try to remember why I took up photography in the first place. One is a behind the scenes shot from another photoshoot. The model’s hair was being pulled at and she was being poked with a makeup brush. I think it represents where the glamorous lifestyle and reality of high fashion modelling come together – a vacant stare on a beautiful face.”
In the age of digital photography with images merely made of pixels on a screen, Hutchinson makes sure to go back to the old style of film cameras while on a break from his usual stints with his Nikon D700. “I love using film because you take your time with each image and you become more comfortable with the medium,” he told Motley. “With digital photography there is always a new software or a new app to take ‘better’ images.”
An unavoidable topic to discuss with a talented photographer like Alex Hutchinson is the idea that everyone is now able to be a photographer in their own right, with some new smart phones boasting an 8 MP camera and hundreds of apps for editing photos to make them look highly professional. However, could this form of photography be seen to be watering down a professional’s work?
“I have no quarrel with ‘iPhone photographers,” says Hutchinson. “I feel that yes, there will be a lot more terrible work out there, but with that, an amazing artistic eye could be found and will find themselves. I hate when photographers give out about that, we all have to start somewhere. It’s not the medium we shoot with, it’s the eye that makes the photographer: the camera is just an extension of your eye, it doesn’t matter what you put in front of it.”
As for photography in our own fair isle, it can’t be denied that we have the perfect backdrop for stunning shots with our beautiful country sides, interesting cities and breath taking landmarks. This, combined with the raw artistic talent that most Irish people tend to have, surely we have all the ingredients to be produce potentially amazing photographers. According to Hutchinson: “The Irish have a great talent for photography, film, music and other creative outlets. For such a small island, we have a great number of people who are extremely creative.”
But where does fashion photography come into play? “I believe the fashion industry in Ireland is very safe,” he admits. “There are a few people I see at the moment really creating something; Philip White and Boo George are among those people who I really admire. I think their take on fashion is progressive and about the image, not just the fashion.”
Other Irish photographers that Hutchinson takes a inspiration from include Martin Gregg, Seamus Travers, Rich Gilligan, Johnny McMillan and the up and coming young talent, Alex Sheridan. “He will be the next big thing, not necessarily in fashion photography, but photography as a whole.”
With a portfolio boasting a large range of content from Lookbooks for 9 Crow Street to shoots for Vogue UK, the future is looking bright for Alex Hutchinson. “My plans for the future?” he says, before continuing, “well, I am drawing up a new project at the moment that will be shot on medium and large format. Hopefully this will be my biggest project to date.”
With all of his success and talent, he has a very humble view on putting his talents to use. “I am making a conscious decision to document my friends and family,” he adds, “as they will always be the most important things to me. Once fashion is gone out of style and the next generation of models come in, the images of my friends and family will be the most meaningful.”