FFO: IMAGERY WITH REAL NICE AESTHETICS THAT WERE INSPIRED BY MUSICAL INFLUENCES (LIKE CHILDISH GAMBINO AND FRANK OCEAN) + VERY INFORMATIVE ADVICE FOR ASPIRING YOUNG PHOTOGRAPHERS!
Who are you?
My name is Myles Bailey, I’m 18 and I’m from East London.
Where are you based?
Well I live in a place called Woodford Green which is just outside the city, so you could say I’m ‘based’ in London.
What is your current photographic work about?
I’m doing a few things at the moment. My work at college is currently about self-exploration, a series of self portraits that really show what kind of person I am and my character, which I’m planning on submitting this to Chloe Sheppard’s upcoming ‘The G Word Paper’. I’m also shooting my friends’ band ‘The Balcony’ on the 5th of January at the WaterRats (if any of you want to come down).
Though the most relevant thing I can mention at the moment is my photo-book ‘Fortunate’ which looks at the realization of the things we take for granted in this world.
What inspired you to create your series ‘Fortunate’ and what did you photograph within this series?
Initially, I didn’t even set out to make a book, I just wanted to take photos I could look back on one day and be really proud of. I wanted to bring the world home with me. But mostly, I just wanted to show my family and friends how grateful I am for everything they do, the best way I knew how.
I feel like the book really shows some of my photographic range, documentary photography being the most tested skill. So it’s a lot of what goes on in each city, those cities being Prague, Venice and Amsterdam. As well as things we got up to or just things that caught my eye.
What got you interested in photography and taking images?
There was a combination of things really. I used to make skateboarding videos with my friends which weren’t that good in the scheme of things, but I was having fun at the time. I was getting bored of filming for hours and hours and not having any fun with it anymore. I became a bit lazy. I still however wanted to do something creative.
I’d just got into Childish Gambino. In the summer after he released ‘Because The Internet’ (which I must have listened to every day), a series of images shot by Ibra Ake came out featuring Gambino and the model Ellinore Erichsen. I saw those and it just kind of hit me that I wanted to take pictures like that. I showed my friend Louie who had recently bought a Nikon L35AF (point and shoot film camera) and he showed me some of his photos which looked eerily similar – so I bought the exact same camera and spent the entire summer shooting anything; parties, gardens, etc. I took the thing everywhere.
That Christmas my parents got me a Canon A-1(SLR film camera) which I didn’t actually use properly until the next July really. I went to a BLM protest in Oxford Circus with both of my film cameras and I took this one shot of a guy I met in the middle of a big crowd and I really loved the image. From there on I didn’t stop using the camera.
However in all honesty I didn’t really become serious with shooting until about May of last year (2016 ) a couple of my friends started an independent media company, and they asked me to work with them, so we were shooting all summer. I began studying photography after that summer, after having just done a year of media studies at college. I slowly started learning different styles of Photography, and I also became more knowledgeable about its history. This led me to start doing more photographic jobs, conducting my own shoots and here we are.
Who are you inspired by?
In terms of photography some names that come to mind off the top of my head are; Petra Collins, Chloe Sheppard, Vicky Grout and Michael Mayren. There’s never one photographer that I stick to for inspiration, but those are just the main photographers I tend to reflect back to for inspiration.
Music however usually plays the biggest influence on me and my work (besides other photographers of course), with artists such as Frank Ocean, Donald Glover, Daniel Caesar Tyler the Creator, The Internet, Brockhampton, etc all influencing me in some way or other.
It’s interesting to hear how much of an influence music has on you and your work, in what way does music have a direct influence on your photography?
Well, when I listen to songs and albums, I get this really vague image or visual in my mind of what goes along to that. So I’ll try to visually create what a song sounds and feels like. This one shoot I did months ago was what I saw in my head when I heard ‘Blood On Me’ by Sampha. There were two photos I took of my friends in July that were inspired by ‘Sunny Duet’ by Noname Gypsy etc.
A lot of the stuff in the book was influenced by Frank Ocean & Daniel Caesar. Mostly because I was listening to those two a lot this year. They both can create such warm and vivid imagery and I wanted to pay homage to them somehow. I even put a playlist at the start of the book with about twenty songs that I was listening to during the trip, or just songs that I thought worked with the aesthetic. I really wanted to put some of ‘Malibu’ by Anderson Paak in there! But I couldn’t really fit any of it into this project, so I feel like owe it to him to reference that album with another project down the line. There were hundreds of songs that I could’ve put on the list but because I wanted to keep it to twenty songs maximum, I thought I’d make a spotify playlist of more or less all of the songs I listened to on the trip, which I’ll keep adding to as time goes on.
There was this man I met in Venice one day. His name was Felix, he was a twenty-eight year old clarinet player and he came from Berlin. I was out by myself on a walk and heard him playing near a church and thought I’d chill with him for a while. We spoke about music, the human mind and social constructs and in all honestly it was one of the most enlightening conversations of my life. So you’ll see photos of him in the book.
But there was a few that didn’t make it into the book at all. I took this one shot in a club of a dj with these really abstract lights over his head, but I just couldn’t find a place for it in context with the rest of the photos. But I’ll no doubt put that on my instagram at some point.
What are your future aspirations?
I’ve had a number of ideas floating round my head. One day, I’d want to shoot a cover or series for I-D or DAZED or something like that would be cool. I love the editorial pieces you see with artists like Solange, or Vince Staples or whoever as I’d love to photograph more well-known musicians like that. Maybe make like an EP. I started learning guitar a few months ago. I like the thought of having other people singing along to something I wrote.
How do you see your own personal work developing in the future? Got any new ideas for projects in the line up?
I’m not really sure right now. At the moment, my main job is shooting an open mic poetry event called ‘Jawdance’ and I’ve made some connections through that to do other shows. But I’m hoping that turns into shooting more music artists. I shoot my friends’ band ‘The Balcony’, I met them at college and I’m going to be with them for life. So when they become the biggest band in the world, I’ll be there taking photographs. I shot the album launch party for indie artist ‘Gecko’ in October, so maybe that could lead to something.
In terms of ideas for new projects…I’d like to do a series on male mental health. Suffering from bipolar (undiagnosed) myself and suicide being the number one cause of death in males, I know how hard it is and I just want to make people aware or make it okay to talk about. I know that’s going to be quite hard coming from a photographer who isn’t well known, but still, it’s necessary.
Me and my brother had this idea of making a zine about mixed race people, coming from a mixed family we just wanted to make something that us and a huge community can relate to. We actually planned to shoot in summer but we never got round to it, so you never know, it could still happen. But honestly I think I’d like to take a break, I’ve been doing quite a lot, I’m preparing for university and I’m really drained. So I think I’ll take some time for myself, start going to the gym or playing basketball again, I don’t know.
What advice would you give young photographers today?
Well as a young photographer I can tell you things that I’ve learnt you should/shouldn’t do.
- Shoot constantly. Take your camera absolutely everywhere because a) you’ll start realizing the kind of photographs you like to take and b) to reflect on that gut feeling of seeing a shot and realizing you don’t have your camera with you is horrible- you’ll feel like crap for the rest of the day if you aren’t able to have taken that picture. So, always keep your camera on you.
- DON’T be afraid to ask for payment when doing jobs, otherwise people can and WILL take advantage of your good nature and eagerness.
- Take photographs that you like, but don’t be shocked when people give you criticism or tell you something they don’t like about a photo or a series of photos; because their criticism will come into play as you begin to learn more.
- Read/watch/listen to as many lessons/tutorials as you possibly can, you never know when certain skills might come into play.
- Work with what you’ve got. You don’t need the most expensive camera with the biggest lens. Guaranteed you can do the same thing with a 5D or 1300D. A half decent camera definitely does help, but I’m just saying if you’re broke (like me) you can still create what you want. It just takes a little longer…
Bottom line is: Be patient. Create what you want. But above all, just do your best and have fun.
You can also buy his book ‘Fortunate’ here.