This Photographer Made English Suburban Life Looks Like Your Next Season's Wardrobe Goals
Gasoline, oil grease, skinheads, pints, SMX motorbikes, Fred Perry, Harley Tattoos and Brit Punk, smash them together, sprinkle on it a bit of humour and some hints of danger, that’s the kind of feeling the photographs English photographer David Newby tries to convey, or at least to me.
Simple and direct, Newby is more fascinated by the grittier end of English country subculture, where bar fights, SMX Rides and skinheads are still in style. These are the people who embody the pride and dignity from the glorious days of English culture, and continue to carry on the memories, the nostalgia, and the spirit of punk.
The absence of communication and the powerful influence of smaller media resulted in the tremendous gap between the urbanites and the countrymen. The photography of Newby provided us with a window to peek into the subculture of English countryside. It is healthy to know and to understand each others’ interests, hobbies or even fashion, to at least kick start the conversation, and comprehend why people make different choices. You might learn a lot, or you might get inspired about what to wear this weekend. TOTEM Journal spoke with Newby to find out more:
1. It seems like the suburban English culture has a big influence in your photography. I love the smell of danger, ruggedness and embedded stories behind the faces in your photographs. What is it that draw you into these communities?
I’m very interested by sub cultures and also people that are in to stuff to the point of obsession. Everyone is so celebrity obsessed these days and also with instagram now more than ever and the whole selfie thing that’s going on, people almost seem to be creating these images of themselves that aren’t to me really real or believable. I think I’m drawn to these people because they don’t give a shit if I take their photo or not. In fact, most times I have to talk them in to it.
2. What is the environment you grew up in like? And what were you obsessed with as an adolescent? (music/movie/photographs/brands etc?)
I grew up in the suburbs in the seventies and eighties. I used to go to jumble sales with my mum at weekend (where) she bought old stuff to sell on her market stall and I used to buy old records by the box load. I used to sit in my room for hours listening to everything and anything while taking cameras apart and putting them back together again.
I had a heavy metal phase, then indie came along. And when i turned 16 i started going to raves and for a couple years all i listened to was hardcore rave music!
3. England seems like a big subject in what you try to capture. What do you think about the current post-Brexit England?
It just seems really short sighted of people to do that but I guess they were really upset about something that (we) just can’t relate to. I was really gutted about it when it happened and just kept apologising to foreign people that live in the UK. I live in Berlin at the moment and after the result came out I had people coming up to me and saying stuff like sorry for your loss! I’m still in mourning and I think its had an affect on me and my work.
4. People say that what’s retro now is what’s in 20 years ago. Do you agree with that? And how do you see the “me” generation today strolling around dropping thousands of dollars to look like they are from an English or Soviet suburb?
Yes, I think that’s true, but I’ve not changed my style in the last twenty years. I always hoped id come back in to fashion some point! I really like this trend.
5. How does the style and focus of your personal project influence your fashion photography?
Well I try to approach everything i photograph in the same way i like to hope my style follows through from fashion to celebrity to documentary. I like stuff to look pretty real!
6. What is defines art for you now? Is fashion a part of it or different from art in your opinion?
Not all fashion is art all artists go out of fashion.
7. Could you tell us a fun story/person you encountered recently that left you a good/bad impression?
The other day I was in a clothes store another was a man about twenty years’ older than me and he was dressed identically to me. We were standing next to each other both holding up identical beige jackets and we both thought it was amusing!
Check out more of his work here:
All photo rights reserved to David Newby.