‘I try to capture rawness and beauty at the same time’: Gabriel Moses on his career

Photographer Gabriel Moses’ new book ‘Regina’ is a paen to kindred spirits

Man with gun to head, by Gabriel Moses
Four girls, 2022
(Image credit: © Gabriel Moses_Prestel)

In his shooting-star career, 25-year-old photographer Gabriel Moses has worked with some towering female talents, rapper Little Simz, singer-songwriter and producer Tems, and fashion designer and singer Mowalola Ogunlesi among them. The south Londoner has also shot football legend Zinedine Zidane, multi-hyphenate Pharrell Williams, and rapper Central Cee, while directing a music video (FE!N) for Travis Scott – none of whom come up short in the creativity department. But, for Moses, it’s the women who stand tall.

Gabriel Moses on his new book Regina

Photo of woman in bath with heavyweight champion belt over side

In bath with a wrestling belt, 2024

(Image credit: © Gabriel Moses_Prestel)

Cue the title and the framing of the Anglo-Nigerian’s first photography book. 'There’s a word throughout my career that I scream at every opportunity, and it’s "Regina"!’ Moses writes in the foreword to the monograph, a collection of his rich, colour-saturated work for magazines, fashion houses and brands. Regina – queen in Latin, as any fule kno – is his tribute to the figures and forces who have shaped him. Moses grew up 'around lots of women who appreciated beauty. That’s a massive part of what I celebrate [in my work]. So for me it feels very important to pay homage to them.'

‘My mum was a flower arranger, so I have an appreciation of colour’

Gabriel Moses

Photo of woman in conical bra, smoking cigarette by G Moses

Woman in conical bra, 2024

(Image credit: ©Gabriel Moses_Prestel)

He continues, 'Some of my first experiences of seeing images when I was a kid were pictures of my grandparents and my mum. There were so many elements that I loved: in aged [family] photos, the colours change a certain way. [The people are] sweating [because] they’re in Nigeria. In the black and white images, the skin [tones] looked different. And my mum used to be a flower arranger, so I have an appreciation of colour.' Accordingly, when he began taking photographs in his late teens, the self-taught Moses 'was trying to create something that has a rawness but a beauty to it at the same time'.

Photography duet by Gabriel Moses

A diptych, 2021, 2024

(Image credit: © Gabriel Moses_Prestel)

Fellow photographer Nick Knight is a key influence

Another key influence: Nick Knight, whose work echoes through Moses’ lush, evocative, style. Paying it back and paying it forward, Regina includes an in-conversation between the two Londoners – a generation and 40 years apart but a spirit together. ‘I would have come across Nick pretty late,’ muses Moses of his early encounters with Knight’s work. ‘But I connected with him straight off. We’re very much opposites. At the same time, there are so many similarities in how we carry ourselves. He’s a very humble guy [despite] having shot everything there is to do in the world.’

Black Ballet dancers by Gabriel Moses

Ballet dancers

(Image credit: © Gabriel Moses_Prestel)

It’s both Knight’s industry and artistry that appeal to the younger man. 'Nick is an example of longevity, which I’m always focused on,' says an authentic prodigy who landed his first commission, aged 18, from Nike. That longevity, Moses already understands, means evolving his style. But ask him how he thinks that will happen, and his reply speaks more to self-belief than to defined aesthetic aspirations. ‘The way I work and the way I see [things] is very spiritual. So if I don’t love a project, if I don’t think it suits what I’m trying to do, I’m very happy saying no.’

Gabriel Moses, Regina (published by Prestel), £33, at Amazon

Man with gun to head, by Gabriel Moses

Image shot for Replica Man Magazine, 2022

(Image credit: © Gabriel Moses_Prestel)

London-based Scot, the writer Craig McLean is consultant editor at The Face and contributes to The Daily Telegraph, Esquire, The Observer Magazine and the London Evening Standard, among other titles. He was ghostwriter for Phil Collins' bestselling memoir Not Dead Yet.