THE LONDON PHOTOGRAPHER SHIFTS BETWEEN TWO CHROMATIC UNIVERSES, BLACK AND WHITE. AFTER WORKING IN FASHION AS A VIDEO DESIGNER, HE FOCUSED ON PHOTOGRAPHY. HIS SHOTS ARE SET IN URBAN LANDSCAPES, WHERE THE LIGHT EMPHASIZES ALL FORMS. REDMILK PRESENTS RUPERT VANDERVELL.
You turned to photography after working as a video designer in fashion. Tell us about this professional development
I worked for many years as a video producer for Condé Nast on titles like Vogue and Glamour. I produced videos for their websites and social media. Fashion has certainly had an impact on my stills photography, mostly directly from the clothes themselves. There are certain designers like Roksanda Ilincic, Céline and Issey Miyake with their minimalism and geometric shapes and patterns that have inspired my thinking when putting a series together. My series Geometrix borrowed much from this way of thinking. The cut of a garment and how it hangs has much in common with what I look for in the urban landscape.
Your shots are in black and white: have you ever used other forms of color?
Colour is everywhere in our world. We don’t see the world in black & white, we see it in rich vibrant colours all around us. Colour inspires, emotes and challenges us and we respond to it’s many hues differently. So why do I choose to photograph in black and white? The answer is for the very reason that we don’t see the world that way. I want to show a world that is different from our everyday view of life. A place that strips away the conflicting emotions of colour and is built on the subtle and sensual tones of the monochrome palette.
“Man on Earth” focuses on the modern city and its inhabitants. How did the idea for this series come up?
In the Man on Earth series the pictures are supposed to represent a sort of dream-like state. In our over-populated world and increasingly crowded urban spaces moments of solitude are becoming harder to achieve. I wanted to imagine what it might be like to be the last man on earth. A lone figure wandering the earth, enveloped by a beautiful silence.
What is your relationship with big cities?
Making pictures, for me, is an aesthetic reaction to living in the city. I strive to bring out my personality in the photographs and try to bring order and form to what I encounter on the streets and what I see in everyday life. In the city, I find beauty in the geometry and patterns of shadow and light that are exclusive to it. The juxtaposition of the built environment and the human form is a recurring theme in my work.
Let’s talk about your book “Light Work”. What is it about, and to whom you’d recommend it?
In Light Work I explain how I go about creating my pictures and give some insight into what I look for in a scene and how I achieve my particular style of photography. I think it’s useful for anyone looking to improve their photography generally, not just street photography enthusiasts. The points I stress are applicable to any situation where you are trying to bring balance and harmony to a scene, surely the most important aspect of any type of picture.
Photos courtesy of the artist