Every Art Producer I know has a wish list. A list of all the photographers, illustrators and set designers they would love to work with. Usually written in January, this list is scrawled in the back of a brand new moleskine diary or written on a post it note and stuck to their computer. It is a list written with a determined attitude and is often accompanied with a title that reads ‘Photographers I must work with this year’. All in capital letters. Luke Stephenson is on my list. In fact Luke has been on my list year in year out since around 2010. It will finally happen this year. The post it note on my computer tells me so.
After circumnavigating the coast of Britain to shoot the iconic British staple, the humble 99 ice cream, and a three year obsession photographing show birds, I was more than a little bit curious about what project Luke would engross himself with next. Lucky for me I had the pleasure of chatting to him recently and heard all about his cold calling bird breeders , the art of repetition, the mysterious origins of the 99, listening to the blues, shooting wigs for The Sunday Times, the excellent For Life Not Landfill fashion story for Jigsaw and his new obsession with pizza takeaway scooters.
Since photographing the 99x99s series I really like the combination of two images that link and give you a better picture of the subject so I thought it would also be nice to document the pizzas that were delivered. I started to order a different pizza from each of the establishments to build up a set of images that show the diverse and sometimes strange selection of pizzas that are available.
I think fashion photography is free from a lot of the constraints that other commercial photography has and they are more willing to take risks so I suppose this is why I’ve been quite busy with fashion lately.
When I did the bird project it started quite simply, all I wanted to do was photograph a few budgies, then I wanted to capture some canaries and then I started to see lots of different birds and began to want them in my collection. So it became a strange quest to photograph as many different birds as I could. I had a list of birds I’d like to photograph and had to search hard to get them, but this is part of the satisfaction, the hunt and figuring out a way to get what you want.
The one I like and sounds as if it could be true is that there was a ice cream shop in Portobello near Edinburgh which was on 99 Portobello high street. The owner would take a flake, snap it half, and put one half in the ice cream and call it a 99 and then the Cadbury rep saw this and they started to make smaller flakes just for ice creams. I visited the location of this myth on my travels, it's now a hairdressers, but the numbers for the property look quite old and does look quite like the graphics for the 99 flake... but it could all be nonsense and I like the fact that it is so full of mystery.