FFO: FANS OF NORTHERN SOUL CAPTURED BY A GOOD OL’ YORKSHIRE LAD (AND A PHOTOGRAPHER THAT MEDDLES IN ABOUT ALL EXISTING PHOTOGRAPHIC GENRES)
Who are you?
I’m Sam Dennis, 20 years old and I’m about to answer these questions. (BLOODY LOVE THE INTRODUCTION SAM DENNIS YOU FUNNY THING YOU)
Where are you currently based?
Currently I’m based in my home city of York and more often than not I find myself between there and Leeds.
What is your current photographic work about?
Usually I work as a photographer covering many genres, mostly corporate and wedding shoots to earn an income from. However I do also love documentary/fashion work.
Recently I’ve been creating images based around ‘Northern Soul’. I took the process of Documentary photography to gain primary research and then used what I captured to implement typical Northern Soul aesthetics into a separate studio based fashion shoot. The whole basis was to recapture what the youth of Northern Soul may have looked like back in the 70’s and draw comparisons to those still in the youth culture today. The final outcome interestingly showed that although the members had aged; the fashion, music and movement had stayed consistent.
The initial Documentary style images, taken by Sam Dennis:
What attracted you to photograph the Northern Soul scene?
I was initially interested through first going to a soul do at a nearby working men’s club. Seeing the extravagant dance movement and really listening to/enjoying the obscure soul music, something began to click with me and I felt that I needed to document it in my own way.
In what places did you discover that the Northern Soul scene is still alive n kickin’?
Quite surprisingly it’s thriving in the smallest of places, such as small towns and villages near mines and power stations seem to be little hubs for the gatherings. I think this has a lot to do with the working-class origins of the youth culture, the scene has stayed in the areas where these people will have been brought up and worked.
What were the main similarities and/or differences you noticed between the older and younger generation of northern soul goers?
There isn’t too much of a noticeable difference. The main thing is that the original members of northern soul continue to really live for the culture. It is truly their escape from reality and a place I feel they can relive some youth. The younger guys go for more of an appreciation of the culture, to be within a group that is something so different to what youth culture of today offers. Regardless both generations go for a solid love of the music.
Do you ever intend to possibly exhibit these images or make a book/zine out of them?
I’m aiming to put them within a zine that could be possibly handed out at Northern Soul events. I think this would a pretty sweet way to give back the community that so kindly let me in to document them.
Got any new photography projects on the go?
So much is going on at the moment! The main thing is weddings and similar events which is really helping to develop the business aspect of The Skinny Sam’s Photography Co. Otherwise I’ve got two automotive projects in the coming months and a whole series of behind the scenes images for a feature length film made by a film maker from York. Always good working with a home town lad! It’ll all be up on my website over the coming months so take a look if you ever get a chance!
What got you interested into photography and taking images?
It was in high school during my BTEC Art & Design course, when we were introduced to David Lindsay, a photographer who gave us a guest lecture. I loved how his images showed a wide range of both artistic and corporate uses, so meeting him really set photography to the forefront of my mind. Because of David I chose Photography at A-Level and consequently I’m doing a degree in it. We still talk and meet up now and again too!
Who are you inspired by?
I’m not one to particularly ‘fan boy’ over particular photographers, but it’s more of a case of liking individual images or bodies of work. For example I’m a massive fan of Martin Parr’s series of Abandoned Morris Minors on black and white film, however, I don’t like his other work and I don’t get the hype around him. (That is certainly a social suicide in the photography community for that comment- IT’S ALRIGHT SAM WE LOVE A CONTROVERSY OVER AT DIY YOUTH…ESPECIALLY IF IT GETS THE BLOG MORE VIEWS).
Although I really enjoy Stephen Shore’s American Surfaces and William Eggleston’s 2 ¼ bodies of work. I think inspiration can come from a lot of places including music and especially film. Inspiration from cinematography, colour grading and film composition often helps shape my stills.
What are your future aspirations?
Priority number one is to make The Skinny Sam’s Photography Co. my full time job, and I certainly aspire to just continue to love and create work with my camera.
What advice would you recommend to young photographers today?
Never hesitate to take up an opportunity to photograph something and do not settle on a singular genre of photography too soon. If you love taking pictures and capturing moments it doesn’t matter about the subject or cost of the equipment, it matters that you create often and love doing it. Oh and don’t be a snob about art, it’s all just conjecture.
A big thanks and a shoutout to Sam for the interview! Keep up with his work via the links below: