A few weeks ago, as if by chance, an ad popped up on my Instagram feed for a clothing brand that seemed familiar to me… but looked quite different. I’d heard of East before, but had never really payed much attention. Having not grown up in the UK, I really wasn’t familiar with it. But as I’ve since mentioned the brand to many people, I see how much of an impact it has had.
When I clicked onto East Clothing’s Instagram page, I knew immediately that they were “on brand” for my portfolio, and that I should get in touch… so I did! I tracked down an email address to a team member, and sent an email off with my portfolio, saying how much I loved their clothes. A few emails later, and the lovely team at East were packing up a few dresses for me to use in a personal project I had planned - a win for both of us! I get to use some gorgeous dresses in a shoot, and they get some images to use on their social channels.
When the dresses arrived, I was even more excited - they really are absolutely beautiful. I’m a self confessed bohemian at heart, and I’ll fully admit to trying each one of the dresses on my self. They’re beautfiul, the quality of the fabric feels seriously luxurious. They’re flattering, the patterns are stunning, and they just make you want to spend the rest of your life on a beach in Ibiza.
I have to also give East a massive mention for their sustainability efforts. The fashion industry is well known for being one of the most un-eco friendly businesses on the planet, but East really do seem to be making a massive effort to look after our planet. I spent a good deal of time on their site, reading through the entire section dedicated to explaining where they source their fabrics from, where they employ their workers, and how they intend to improve their business even more.
I decided to do this shoot on film. I used to shoot much more 35mm a few years ago, but somewhere along the way, I put my film cameras down. I can’t give you a full explanation as to why, but I just did. Recently though, I’ve been working more and more to get to the root of what I want my work to be like going forward, and it always had that more dreamy, film like quality to it. As hard as you try, you can’t fully recreate that digitally.
So I set myself a challenge - shoot a whole story on nothing but film. I didn’t even bring my digital cameras with me this time, and wow, what a difference. First of all, I found it hard. I had to enter a totally different way of working. I had to stop, think, plan and really know exactly what I wanted. I had to communicate with my model every step of the way - when you shoot film, there’s no “zoning out” in the way that you can with digital.
When we wrapped up the shoot, I was genuinely nervous. I had a few polaroids I could see, but all the negatives (5 in total) were still undeveloped, and it would be another week before I got them back from the lab, ready for me to scan.
When I did get them back, and began to scan them in, my heart exploded. I adore these images so much, I can’t begin to express how happy they make me feel. There’s something about them that feels really… true. They’ve captured a part of my soul - as cheesy as that really sounds. I guess because they’re tangible negatives, the fact that they actually hold the light that was in those moments between Lucy and myself… they feel like magic to me.
This shoot feels like a turning point for me. Although I’ll probably never shoot only film (but never say never, i’ve learnt that lesson!), I’m definitely going to make a point of shooting it more often, especially when it comes to personal projects. Not only do I love the quality of it, but I love the way it makes me slow right down, and get really clear on what I want to achieve.
And as for my collaboration with East Clothing… well watch this space! Things are getting exciting… very fast!