In a new blog series, French Connection will be regularly handing over creative control to new and aspiring photographers for a day. Shot on location, each fresh-faced photographer has free rein to explore our fashion cupboard and work alongside the team to direct their own shoot.
Our photographer: Jude Kendall
I’m a photographer based in London and I shoot mainly fashion. I graduated from the London College of Fashion two years ago and since then have been freelancing; I’ve been published in magazines including Ones2Watch, Fault, Cake Paper and Contributor. I shoot predominantly on film and process black and white in my bathroom at home. My biggest inspirations are subculture, record sleeves, the DIY ethic and old places. I also enjoy cutting rude words out of newspapers and firing camera flash into people’s faces…
How did you come up with ideas for this shoot?
I started thinking quite hard about how to do a shoot that would feature light, colour and spring/summer clothing but still be edgy and fit my style. I’ve recently found myself revisiting the idea of being rootless and transient, so I came up with a road movie-ish/leaving town idea while sitting on the step outside my flat, which is where all of my best ideas come from these days.
Do you have an initial story in mind when you start working on a project?
I try to have some sort of narrative arc in mind; not to the extent of naming characters or turning a shoot into a living storyboard, but I like to have questions about what the person featured is doing and their motives and obviously you want to know something about the mood. I’m inspired by music and movies a lot, so there’s normally a lot of narrative already built in from that.
What can you tell us about the girl in your shoot? Where is she going next/where has she come from?
I think that people will have their own interpretations, which in turn will reflect their experiences. For me, I think she’s moving on to better things after spending too long in one place. It’s like the party has ended and she has hung around for too long. I think the fact that she’s leaving is definitely positive though, as if things have been bad but she’s getting out. Or, she could be constantly going from place to place and this is both the end and the beginning.
Why did you pick this location – how does that feed into the story?
The location was pretty important for this. I wanted there to be enough wasteland to reference the big open roads you get in America but obviously, since the story is shot in London, it’s impossible to really get that much space. It would be crass to try and replicate an American road movie without the resources. The wasteland then – which was full of graffiti – gave the story the emptiness it needed. It reflects this sort of ‘edge of civilisation’, approaching freedom mood but keeps it tied to the city and makes it much more British. I wanted the other location with the motorway to compound this Englishness, and also give some context that she is about to physically leave – perhaps waiting for a ride or hitchhiking.
What’s one tip you could give aspiring photographers that you wish someone had told you?
Remember internet safety whenever approached by new collaborators. It’s the same rule that applies to online dating or making friends online, Google them and check out their website/Tumblr/Twitter/whatever first and meet in public places.
Where do you go to feel more inspired?
I find sitting on the front step pretty good for thinking, or the scaffolding that’s still outside my flat. I have some pretty zen moments like that. In terms of new visual inspiration I go to galleries and museums as much as possible, but I find being on the Tube or train pretty good as well for people watching.
What else are you working on right now?
I’m collaborating with a few people at the moment on some editorials, and also shooting a video about the DIY aesthetic with one of my good friends.
Can you think of an image that you wish you had created yourself?
I love the movie Casablanca, pretty much every shot in that film could be a still, so I wish I’d made the whole thing really.
Do you have any important memories which influence your creativity?
I remember when I was a kid we used to go to Winchester Cathedral a lot, and I was always fascinated by religious icons of saints and also a wall in one of the chapels with these Medieval friezes.
One important memory I have is when I was about 14. It was the first time I can remember thinking of a picture in my head that I wanted to create, but was unable to draw, so it was the first time it occurred to me to use photography to express myself.
What was the last film/song/book to have an impact on your work?
For this shoot I was listening to a lot of Skip Jones and delta blues, and was also reading On The Road and then I watched the movie.
There’s something very ‘London’ about your images. Can you describe/explain that?
I think when you’re starting out you really have to work with what you have and celebrate it. My interest in London is less the glossy, tourist London and more the real places where people live on the outskirts. I like how one side of a street can be some fancy building that was built in 1800 and the opposite a 1960s Brutalist council block, and I like areas which look rundown and real. Where I live there’s no parking signs, and furniture left on the street and all of the kind of debris that comes with so many people packed into terraced houses. There are obviously influences in my work from magazines that focus on East London but also I think I’m also pretty influences by punk bands like The Clash and The Jam and that sort of imagery of endless houses, the West Way and brick walls.
The way the collection has been styled is really wearable. Do you prefer fashion imagery to be relatable or fantastical?
I’m a big fan of both, but I think if you’re going for fantasy then you really have to go for it and at the moment my ideas are mainly pretty grungy because I find that easier to identify with. I really like seeing small elements of the surreal in ordinary places though; which allows you to introduce a bit more avant-garde styling while retaining the realism, especially if the location is somewhere more run down.
How would you sum up French Connection in three words?
Clean, feminine, sharp.
Click here to visit Jude’s website.