THURROCK-based photographer Wayne Crichlow captured the attention of TV viewers for several weeks as he worked his way through the rounds to the final of Sky Arts TV’s Masters of Photograph competition.
Sadly he didn’t win, though his performance in coming through the huge number of applicants for the competition to the final three was a magnificent achievement in its own right.
Thurrock Independent guest writer Assumpta Ndugbu recently caught up with Wayne to talk about his time on the TV show, his life and work so far – and where his career stands at the moment.
Born to West Indian parents, the photographer, originally from East London and who now lives in Chafford Hundred, has been active with his camera for almost two decades and in that time line has received a lot of positive acclaim for his work.
In 2017, the Sony Photography Awards, gave him a commendation for a photographic series he did titled ‘Café’ and his charity work, in which he employs his street-style skills to shed light on the issue of mental illness and poverty in such an emotive way, has not gone unnoticed either. Wayne is often commissioned to work on fashion shoots and music videos also, which illustrates how multifaceted he is within the scope of photography.
Despite of all this, he remains extremely humble about his craft and what he has accomplished with it. With regards to having been a part of season three of the
Masters of Photography competition, Wayne is still very overwhelmed by it all and articulates what a wonderful experience it was for him.
“I was one of ten going to onto the actual show,” he told me after explaining his reaction to the acceptance call he received from Rome. “Obviously I was speechless at this point. I thought ‘what, what is all this about?’. I didn’t expect it.
“It literally just went on from there. I flew out to Italy at the backend of January. I managed to persuade my work to give me some time off to be able to shoot the programme. And then I spent seven to eight weeks, based in Rome – filming the show. It also meant that while I was there, I had to fly to different parts of Europe and travel to other parts of Europe for various tasks.
“The tasks were set all over the place. They were very different to my normal style; very different to the way that I shoot photography.
“The whole program was about how to approach and manage a problem and as a photographer how flexible are you and how can you adapt to problems on a shoot. And if you willing to learn. For me, it was a great learning experience. I found myself in all different kind of themes. And I found myself growing as a photographer throughout the programme.”
Wayne may not have won the competition but was more than pleased to have got to the final and considered it an “incredible achievement”.
As far as he was concerned, it was a moment in which he took the time to cherish each day that he was a part of the show and to develop his skills.
Wayne’s rather demure, yet straight-forward and open approach to the discussion about his work persisted as he delved into what inspired him to pick up a camera for the very first time and pursue the world of photography. It was the birth of his now seventeen-year-old daughter.
“When my wife was pregnant, we went to an antenatal group, where you meet up with other expectant mothers and fathers,” he told me. “And as a part of that, they gave us a money-off voucher, where you could go and get £10 off of a camera. So when the child is born, you could then recall those moments.
“So I literally got the camera around the time she was born and I used it to chart those moments of her growing up, and it kind of went on from there, really. I started enjoying doing it and people would start commenting about the pictures I was making.”
He went on recall how he made the transition from documenting his family life, to then going out onto the street and documenting what was going on.
“It’s something that happens organically, as you grow as a person, and as in my case, with photography. I found myself out on the streets; when I had my camera with me, and was just so intrigued about people and the way people interact and what most people would see as the everyday, mundane life.
“I was kind of just interested in everyday stuff and I found myself observing what was going on in front of me and I just felt that I needed to kind of record those moments as I saw them through my eyes and eventually through my lens.”
When touching upon the subject of what he looks for when taking a photograph and what his methods are, Wayne articulates himself in a way that is utterly detailed and poetic, taking me on a journey through his creative process.
“Imagine you have a movie, and you pull out the spill of film in front of you. And the frame is moving from right to left in front of you as it progresses through the film. When I’m taking a photograph – especially with street style photography, I am usually standing there looking at and visualising the world almost like that.
“And then, what I see from then – which is the moment I put my camera in front of my eye, is that I actually cut that frame out of that live footage of world before me and present that back to you as a viewer. A particular moment that will never happen again.
“None of these moments are repeatable. They are unique. For photographers, with every picture we take, it is almost a historical record that we are making for people in the future who will look back on these images and get a feel of what life was.”
The photographer also offers thought-provoking advice to those who are interested in taking up street-style photography but are unsure of where and how to start.
To begin, he implores that people learn that shooting in private spaces is usually prohibited unless one has a permit, while the streets are one’s free domain. He also encourages that aspiring photographers get over their fear of taking pictures of their chosen subjects up close as opposed to far away. He expresses that the image doesn’t feel personal that way.
“When you look with normal human eyes at the world around us, it is around a 50 millimetre focal length (which is the zoom length that street style photographers usually shoot with). And that is what makes things, real to us. If you can shoot your image in that sort of range, then the image you present back to the viewer is something that they can connect with.”
As far as Wayne is concerned, there is no such thing as a type of camera for shooting street-style. A camera is just a ‘box’ with ‘no feeling’ and it cannot ‘compose or relay what life is about’. He says that an image depends on the photographer alone, and whether they are willing to push the boundary to get the shot that they want and the shot that people can connect with on an emotional level.
To sum it up, Wayne also makes reference to one of his inspirations, the French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson – yet not with a clichéd naïve reverence, but a profound and mature understanding of his work from one visual artist to the next.
While Wayne suggests carrying your camera and taking as many photographs as possible will help develop one’s skills and courage, he is adamant that inspiring street style photographers understand that this method of photography is, as Cartier-Bresson once said, ‘99 percent failure’. Street-style photographers should always be realistic about what to expect. They should be patient, be observant – allow ‘the world to unfold around them and mould into the background undetected’, because a lot of the times photographers may only get that one good shot, and ultimately, it is worth it over the other ninety nine.
Wayne’s unremitting passion for wanting to guide and inspire photographers is clear.
In October, he will be running a photography workshop in Berlin and hopes to be be able to run a workshop in the UK also, in the new year. Currently, he is shooting a documentary about the Grime scene, a music genre that was born out of London and which inspired one of Britain’s most recent subcultures.
For any additional information on Wayne Crichlow, his photography and upcoming projects, you can visit his website at: www.waynecrichlowphotography.com
You can also follow him on Instagram at: chasingthelight_67.