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Finding the extraordinary

Published by Kate Jones | Culture
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It’s said that balanced people do not become writers or artists. The sane don’t while away hours scrawling about figments of their imagination. But I’d go further. I’d argue proper, balanced people don’t do fashion.

Bill Cunningham said, “Fashion is the armor in which we survive everyday life”. And this was a man who, despite his success, talent and his millionaire connections, spent his life sleeping on a fold out mattress in a single room surrounded by his own photos. No family to speak of, no lovers noted, but known by the glitterati as one of the most inspiring and passionate photographers of fashion of the last 40 years. Now, not all of us can commit so completely to our passions. I happen to be a great lover of wine, sex and conversation. But none-the-less, I think the world might be a better place if we all took a leaf from that mad, old sod’s book. Because honestly, mediocrity is the enemy of creativity, and Cunningham was right.

Cheyne Tillier-Daly is a fashion photographer, and one of the slightly unbalanced ones. After giving a nine-to-five a go, he threw caution to the wind, and despite the warnings of the responsible caucus, picked up a camera and never looked back. Five years later he’s shooting editorials, billboards and international models. As someone who lives and breathes his work, he says you can’t force inspiration, but you do have to look for it.

If you’re in anyway creative, you’re going to be constantly at war with the vaguely disappointing aspects of life. Whether it’s an uninspiring workplace, a douchebag boss or the seemingly impossible task of getting decent coffee from somewhere where the barista’s moustache isn’t bigger then the mocha-grande you’ve ordered, you’ll encounter the lacklustre bits of existence. But luckily for us, there’s a secret weapon.

So what’s Cheyne’s perspective? His advice is to find beauty in ordinary life. And he has a point. Photography is more accessible now, than at any other time in history. “It’s great to use it” he says, “but not to take photos of your lunch. Modern photos are generally so wasted, we hardly look at what we’re actually capturing.  We learn from experiences but no one’s experiencing anything anymore, just pretending to and posting it for strangers. You don’t have to photograph something to experience it. I can’t stand it when people are at a concert or something, but watching it through what their phone is recording without being aware of what’s actually happening.”

Beauty, in every sense, is the best way to say ‘fuck you’ to reality. When you think about the hours we spend watching the clock, waiting for a day job to end to you realise the importance of such armor. Beauty is the way we can liberate and comfort ourselves. Most people seem to be pushed into the realm of the responsible, sensible and a somewhat senseless monotony of nine-to-five work. If you’re not careful, you can watch your passions atrophy whilst you do what’s necessary in order to pay the mortgage. Watching the swarms of people grind throughout their day as you do yourself is enough to make you lose hope in your passion. But the truth is, although life is better if you stop and smell the roses, for those that make their own roses, life smells so much sweeter.

Kate H. Jones studied English and Creative Writing, is a fashion writer and blogger who works in publishing.
Category Culture
Tags Bill Cunningham, Cheyne Tillier-Daly, Fashion, Photography