For this Now Generation issue of Antidote Magazine we asked British photographer Benjamin Lennox to capture the spirit of the generational shift the fashion industry is currently feeling rumbling under its feet. Throughout the following pages Lennox has skillfully captured the vitality of youth, the creativity of designers in the thick of their formative years and the new faces of fashion that are shattering the stereotypical definitions of beauty.
Here Lennox opens up about how his love of painting has influenced his work, why analogue photography is still very relevant today and what he wants people to feel when they see his work.
ANTIDOTE : What was it like working with Antidote on this issue?
BENJAMIN LENNOX : Having such a great casting and working with the teams I have, it’s been a great collaboration. I’ve been very lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people throughout. Watching everything come together and having people put so much care into the project, I feel very proud to have been a part of it.
ANTIDOTE : You came to photography via painting. How do you think that has shaped your perspective as a photographer?
BENJAMIN : There’s a facility in painting that gave me discretion to do whatever I liked. I feel the same freedom with a camera in my hand.
ANTIDOTE : You were trained in the analogue era of photography, which seems to be a thing of the past now. Do you feel it is still an important aspect of the work and how has it shaped your vision?
BENJAMIN : When I started assisting, digital photography was very much in its infancy. That’s changed significantly yet I wouldn’t reserve it for the past. I’d say analogue is as relevant today as it’s ever been and I would imagine there’s a bunch of assistants today who will possibly go through their assisting career without touching a role of film on set.
I had a luxury, I didn’t have to actively search out photographers that shot film. Analogue was something that was in everyday use on set, and the relevance in this when looking at what I do and have shot is that I was taught that you can capture everything in camera. I worked for photographers that were very experimental in the way they used light.
I think some of the newer generation would be surprised in finding what my team and I create on set using light. So, to answer the question, yes, it’s very important and something that shouldn’t be ignored moving forward for anyone wanting to make images.
ANTIDOTE : How do you think people are able to recognize your work even before they see the credits?
BENJAMIN : You mentioned my painting background earlier. I think there is a reflection in the photographic work that echoes this. I was abstract in my expressions using a lot of color and movement and I guess this really provided the base for the way I work today.
ANTIDOTE : Looking at your Instagram, there is a real craftsmanship in terms of lighting. It’s almost as if you are painting the photos with light. Can you talk about this.
BENJAMIN : I get to go to work and share a vision that grew from painting almost every day and I spent a long time assisting people who’s work I admired. Combine these and I guess there’s a set of skills to call on to make it possible.
ANTIDOTE : Many photographers spent years working as the assistants of other photographers, but from your bio I don’t get the impression that was the case for you. Can you talk about how you were able to make a living at photography?
BENJAMIN : I was an assistant within photography in one way, shape or form for closing in on 10 years. I was 17 and living in east London with a bunch of mates, so I didn’t really need much to get by. Most of us muffled through and I saw some very talented people go home.
ANTIDOTE : You are the father to two small children. How has becoming a father changed your world view and your work?
BENJAMIN : My eldest came along at the same time as I was leaving assisting and so I haven’t really known working without the children being a part of it. It’s an amazing thing to get to see the world through their eyes where there’s no prejudice or pre-notions as to what’s to be expected day to day. I guess having kids means that there’s this necessity to work to earn a living and to provide, but then on the other hand, I’m doing something I love to do. They’re too young to understand yet, but my hope as they grow is that they’ll understand it’s okay to follow what makes you happy.
ANTIDOTE : What is the best piece of advice you ever got?
BENJAMIN : Try to make a life doing something you love and you’ll never have to go to work.
ANTIDOTE : What is fascinating you right now?
BENJAMIN : My youngest trying to walk.
ANTIDOTE : How do you feel the world of professional photography has changed now that everyone on Instagram sees themselves as a photographer with hundreds of filters to choose from?
BENJAMIN : There’s no denying the process of creating images hasn’t become easier, but it’s fascinating that this is open to so many more people. Even when I was a kid growing up in Manchester, photography wasn’t available to many, yet now, within the people I know, there’s only my grandmother who doesn’t carry a camera in her pocket every day.
There’s more freedom and ease to create but I think we’re all aware of social media censorship. It would be interesting to see what was removed by the likes of Instagram on a daily basis. I’m sure some of it is justified, but I’m sure a good part of it would be the more interesting parts of people’s personalities. Their real intentions.
ANTIDOTE : What advice would you give to a photographer just starting out?
BENJAMIN : Keep going.
ANTIDOTE : What do you want people to feel when they see your work?
BENJAMIN : Anything.
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