‘I keep one printer that’s broken and only prints the "wrong" colours’
‘Through the lens’ is our monthly series that throws the spotlight on Wallpaper* photography contributors. Here we explore Josie Hall’s vision further
In the early days of her career, South London-based Hall had her sights set on becoming a stylist. This all changed when she began assisting photographers, including Nick Knight. One of her career highlights to date was assisting on a film for Maison Margiela with Knight and creative director John Galliano, one she describes as ‘like watching two wizards creating magic’. After a few months of working with Knight, Hall ‘got the itch’ to forge her own path in photography. For our December 2020 issue, she put an ethereal spin on our fashion news story showcasing the brands offering a fresh take on a classic eveningwear essential: the tux.
Wallpaper*: Describe your style and process
Josie Hall: I like it when you’re looking at the image and you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking at, and you question how it got to that point. I don’t like images feeling too digital or too analogue; it’s about finding a limbo between both.
I regularly return to images months later to try out another process on it and give it a completely new lease of life, unrecognisable perhaps to the original image that I thought might have been ‘complete’. Because of this, the more time I have to work on images the better, which is a luxury these days. I could spend days absorbed in one picture, finding new ways of looking at it.
It’s often the mistakes I am looking for. Sometimes the ink runs out from my printer which would be a nightmare in most situations, but somehow always works out and does something which ends up working for the image. I now keep one printer that’s broken and only prints the ‘wrong’ colours.
W*: Tell us about how you brought your way of working to our fashion story exploring new twists on the classic tuxedo
JH: Going into a shoot, I am never 100 per cent sure what the outcome will be. I will always go through my lengthy post-process afterwards; I could try ten different things and end up where I began. For these images, each has a slightly different abstracting treatment. I didn’t want them to feel too close to reality.
It’s sort of like the erosion of an old statue or when the paint cracks in an old painting. That’s what I’m looking for, somehow creating that feeling of age or loss but in a photograph.
W*: What do you think is the most interesting thing happening within photography now?
JH: I’m fascinated by how creatively people have responded to the limitations of our current situation; all the Zoom shoots, CGI/3D rendering, creating avatars to replace models. People are experimenting with how far they can stretch the creative process from their own homes.
Also due to the covid restrictions, it’s been fascinating to see how people have ‘exhibited’ their clothing in another way. Other than hosting a traditional fashion show, the Valentino A/W20 couture show Pierpaolo [Piccioli] collaborated on with Nick Knight was mesmerising. Photographer Elizaveta Porodina has also created some beautiful images through Zoom – you wouldn’t know the difference.
W*: What’s on your radar?
JH: At the moment I’m drawn to the colours of Gerhard Richter, Alex Foxton, Christina Ramberg, and the textures in the work of Sam Haskins, Richard Prince and Albarrán Cabrera. I recently bought a Japanese book, A Dictionary of Colour Combinations, which I can’t stop flicking through. I’m always photographing clouds and landscapes on my phone and messing with them afterwards. I love Richter and Prince’s studies of clouds too. Currently, I am also obsessed with artist Katy Stubbs’ ceramics. Recently I watched Sally Potter’s film Orlando which blew my mind – I can’t believe I’d never seen it before.
W*: What’s next for you this year?
JH: It’s looking quite hard to predict what the future will bring, but should all go as planned, I’m working in Milan for November which I’ve been looking forward to. I’d like to do an edition of prints. I also want to test myself on printing on different textures/papers to see what that brings. I’ll be trying to find as much time as possible for testing techniques and making interesting mistakes. I’ve got a few exciting editorial stories coming up which I am excited to delve into and start thinking properly about how to approach them. §