Harley Weir

Published by Matthew Attard Navarro on 17-Feb-2011 Interviews

Photographer Harley Weir has been producing brilliant editorials & we could not help not featuring her in the Hype section. Her photos are mysterious & enchanting reminding us a lot of Ryan McGinley's earlier works. We go through our standard Q&A and see what she feels about the industry around.

When did you start photography, and how did you get into it?

I've been taking pictures of my friends and family since I really quite young, always a fan of the disposable, those pictures were pretty bad but I made almost every photo into a big scrap books writing descriptions under each one with who was in it and of what was going on. My mum then let me use her old Nikon and I fell completely in love with cameras and started doing the same as my scrap books but online.

What are your favourite subjects and why did you move into fashion photography?

I'm really interested in people, I almost never shoot anything else. I never had it in mind to do fashion photography, but it was kind of offered to me and it did make sense. Its surprisingly close to the arts, you start with a concept then visualise it. Although only really on a aesthetic level it's still a very creative process. An artist would laugh at my work in an artistic context but someone in fashion would think I am an artist, I'm somewhere in between and luckily fashion caters for my lack of intelligent concept and allows for that old kind of art that looks more towards emotion.

Do you feel you need to define a difference between your fine art fashion photography or the purely commercial, or do you ideally blend the two? I try to categorize them all together, but it depends how much control the client has as to how much you see of me in the final product.

Who or what has been your main inspiration as a photographer?

I grew up loving photographer Peter Beard and his animal pictures... And the naked girls. My dad had a couple of his books I was always looking through them, paying special attention to the girls. He also had a a lot of David la Chapelle, another photographer who had a lot of sexy images.  I used to do painting from his photographs, I did one in particular of Rose Mcgowan for my school home work, I  was so proud. My teacher told me she wanted to have a word with me about it, I thought she was going to praise me but instead she confiscated and told me it was inappropriate. Anyway bla bla bla the human form has become my main interest, I'm sure La Chapelle and Beard are in some way to thank/blame.

Do you aspire to move into the direction of the inspiration (photographer/artist etc) or do you use it as a starting base?

I don't think about photographers as much these days, I like to think of my photography as a diary, I don't have much direction. Although in saying that, that's just what Peter Beard does with fashion on the side so maybe I do aspire to do things the way he has.

What do you think of the current industry & do you think fashion photography in general has progressed, or do you believe we’ve regressed to try to emulate the works of old masters?

Hard to say everything comes from something before. I think that has always been the case. Fashion has always regurgitated ideas from the past and artists, architects, writers etc have always looked to their predecessors in the same way to forge new works, its not a new idea its just how things are, we aren’t born alone never to see another soul, we learn from others. Things within fashion have become a bit stale though, a bit of a refresh would be good thing, Re touching has got pretty boring, everybody looks the same so what if she has pores, I'm definitely bored of that.

Coming up with something new, is obviously hard, but is the new factor important to you, or would you prefer working on something that’s currently ‘fresh’?

It is important buts best not to stress about things like that too much its quite impossible to produce something really new, I try to think of things that haven't been done before but even if to my knowledge they haven't, chances are they have. Everybody's seen it all before, 2 girls one cup! Instead I hope to photograph a moment that may have happened before, but is new to me, a friends new born baby for example whatever, something new to me but i know its not new to the universe. That's the only way I can sleep at night.

Are there any projects you are working on?

I'm saving up money to travel to the Philippines to film and photograph a festival held there.

(If you focus on fashion) What do you prefer shooting? Is it menswear or women’s wear?

I prefer shooting men but women's clothes. There aren’t as many avenues covered in menswear not just yet anyway, not being a stylist i don’t have, much control there but there is also less there's experimentation with the male figure, slightly more scope to do something new. You don’t find many women that photograph men erotically. I'm not sure why it is, maybe women are just more private with their images, I think its interesting. People always assume I'm a guy... A gay man. I hope at some point when you see a hot picture of a guy you don’t immediately think, that’s gay.

What’s your favourite photography medium? And what’s your preferred camera?

I use film, I'm slightly embarrassed when I tell people that these days, everybody thinks its old fashioned, that makes me sad. I don't want to be nostalgic but I want to use film. When it comes to cameras I'm very fickle, im always buying and selling, still haven’t found the one though I will always hold a place for my Nikon as it was my first.

What do you like in fashion & what do you dislike ?

I like dressing up. I dislike the way it is so beauty obsessed I get quite warped looking at all those glossy, re touched images but lucky for me I get to meet some of these models in person and really and truly I’m reminded that no ones perfect.

Photo property of Harley Weir

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