IDYSM: Hey Rosie. A huge thanks for taking part in this interview. To start, can you please set the scene and give us some info on what you’re up to and where you are as we do this?
ROSIE: Hey! I’m currently sat at home in Brighton, feeling super lucky after having my kickstarter fully funded and my brain is now racing with a “to do” list for the Boys film, that is now my next project.
IDYSM: So, how did you get into photography?
ROSIE: Looking back, I was surrounded by photography from a young age. My grandad worked at Kodak and my parents’ friend is an incredible documentary style photographer. I remember taking photos on my parents’ 35mm camera and taking them to Snappy Snaps every other weekend to get them developed. I guess I’ve always been taking photos and always loved the experience and feeling of shooting on film. I think I was one of the final generations to grow up with a film camera rather than digital and so to me it’s always been normal and most natural to shoot with one.
IDYSM: How and why did you come to develop an interest in portraiture?
ROSIE: At first it was a really good way of meeting people I was usually too shy to approach otherwise. Having a camera gave me and gives me a great source of access to anyone, anywhere. I love the variety of work that comes from shooting portraits, it can be literally anyone! I like to hear and tell stories and I think portraiture suits the theme of storytelling very well – there’s always something to communicate. My first portrait shoot (outside of A-Level/college work) was with a rapper called Rejjie Snow. After that shoot, I was hooked. It’s also a really nice way to gain more confidence in myself and really helped my communication skills as a pretty introverted teenager.
IDYSM: As you have grown to develop your own style, what influences have you drawn on from other photographers, eras, places etc?
ROSIE: I love and admire the work of William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Daido Moriyama, Stephen Klein, Derek Ridgers, Zed Nelson, Dana Lixenberg, Vivian Maiers, Petra Collins, Harley Weir. I love bold work that is instantly recognisable to the photographer and full of beautiful colours. I’m mostly inspired by everyday life, interactions and observations. I like to observe and take from it what resonates with me.
IDYSM: Contemporary London is very much at the core of what you do, as you give the city a sense of energy, vibrancy and personality within your work. How important is London to what you do?
ROSIE: I love the energy of London and diversity. It’s a city of diversity with so many people traveling through it. It’s a city full of opportunity and it really never stops. It’s for sure important to what I do as it’s where it all began and where I shoot pretty much all of my work. My most favourite place to shoot is in Los Angeles – the light there is just unbelievable.
IDYSM: London has always had a hugely important role at the epicentre of influential street culture around the world, how important and exciting is it for you to be documenting that in the present day?
ROSIE: In the UK, London is where everything begins. It’s such an exciting place to be and when I leave the UK, I’m always excited to get back to London. There’s an energy to it that is unlike anywhere else. I love documenting London, it’s super important to record how the city, poeple, styles and attitudes change and evolve over the years, it’s a moment in time and history.
IDYSM: That said, 2018 and the UK is in an interesting headspace. Brexit is looming, there have been a number of terrorist attacks, the devastation of the Grenfell disaster and after the last election the government are not exactly endearing themselves to youth culture. Do you think this is driving youth culture to inspire and innovate and rise above state empowered limitations?
ROSIE: Completely. From my point of view, I’m super anti-Brexit and completely disgusted with our government , the police and what happened to the people of Grenfell Tower. I feel this is a shared view across my age group and youth in particular and we have extremely differing viewpoints to older generations. I genuinely hope these viewpoints will make the world a better place with more emphasis on care and change with human rights, living conditions, welfare, animal rights and climate change. Youth culture is our only hope, the anarchy against the system and the drive for change is necessary for the future!
IDYSM: Can you talk to us about your working process. What is the starting point for your shoots?
ROSIE: It really depends on the nature of the shoot. If it’s a personal project; One starting point could be researching and making notes on the intentions of what I’m aiming to document. I think it’s important to really understand what you’re interested in if you want to communicate it properly through your work. I also really like to sketch out particular key shots I have in my head, as reference to take with me to the shoot.
If it’s an editorial or campaign, I usually have to make a moodboard and find the perfect team to assist me with the shoot. It’s crucial to surround yourself with the right people for the right job so you can really focus on what you’re doing and trust the people around you to do the same.
IDYSM: Do you plan and prep for a long time, or are you quite spontaneous?
ROSIE: Definitely a mixture. I’m a fan of spontaneity as a lot of the time you can plan and plan and when it comes to the shoot, there’s not enough time or the weather or location may change the plans completely and so you have to wing it as you go anyway. However some shoots do take a solid amount of prep and it’s nice to feel organised, on top of it and ready to go!
IDYSM: How do you choose who to cast for your shoots?
ROSIE: It’s hard to define but I usually just know when someone is right! It’s not only someones looks but also their attitude and how they hold themselves that I am into.
IDYSM: Why are you such a passionate user of film over digital photography?
ROSIE: I love the colour palette of film, there are so many more colours in film than digital and for me that is a real winner. The detail and colour of film really adds to the atmosphere and emotion of a photo and that’s most important for me in a photo.
Digital is almost too easy and instant, it’s not so much of a challenge and the emphasis is off of you as a photographer shooting one on one with a subject and allows other people to be involved as they can review and reflect on the shots as you shoot, which doesn’t appeal to me.
IDYSM: I love the fact that shooting with film requires patience and discipline, something you don’t need as much of with digital. At a time when we are bombarded by content, do you think that working in a medium that takes more time, consideration and patience generates more of an impact with the people that see the work?
ROSIE: For sure. I think digital can do the same too, if it’s a great photo, I guess it doesn’t matter what it’s shot on, it’s a completely personal decision and what works for each individual, best. Film really does have a timeless feel though which I think really connects with people.
IDYSM: You have been promoting your new project Boys on Instagram – what can you tell us about it?
ROSIE: Through personal, honest and revealing portraits, I’ve been exploring boyhood and masculinity. I started shooting these images late 2015, documenting how young men express themselves, capturing their emotions, looking at how they present themselves in everyday life. The project explores expressions of masculine identity at a moment when the subcultures which give young men a voice are increasingly invisible.
Ultimately, the work is about people who don’t realise how special and interesting they are, and whose faces tell their story. Boys is now being made into a short documentary set for release later this year.”
IDYSM: What makes the project so special to you?
ROSIE: It started without any major intentions and was really a passion project that I enjoyed working on and developing over time. I never saw it as such a big project and would have never imagined it to come this far. It’s become really meaningful to me, especially knowing it’s having an effect of the overall view on young men in society and hearing from them how it’s making them more relaxed in who they are. It’s my first proper personal project and I intend to make a book from it one day.
IDYSM: Beyond Boys, what does the future hold for you and your work?
ROSIE: I’m hoping to travel lots more and be able to meet people and photograph portraits all over the world. Most of all I hope to keep developing my skills and getting better and better at what I do. There’s still so much more to learn and so many ways to develop, I’m just enjoying the ride and trying not to worry, I’m in no hurry!
IDYSM: If people could take one thing from your work, what would you like that to be?
ROSIE: I just want people to feel something.