In our latest instalment of 'People And Product', where we ask an interesting person to pick their favourite Crown Northampton style and colourway to wear, we worked with local photographer James Smith who picked a pair of Overstone Hi's in black box calf with gum sole.
For the next part of the process, we then visit our chosen subject in their natural/daily habitat or an area of interest or importance to them. We spend a few hours talking and taking some pictures that capture their character and general lifestyle whilst wearing the product on foot. In this case, we found ourselves on a bridge that straddles the M1 motorway and accompanying railway line that can be found north of Long Buckby Wharf.
We then headed off to an empty car park (with a brief stop for tea, cake and bacon sarnies) located between the respective stadiums of Northampton Football Club and Northampton Saints Rugby Club. As strange and obscure as that sounds, all will be revealed through the images below from the day and the short question and answer session that followed.
All imagery is a combination of our in house photographer Alex Natt shooting James as he worked, directly followed by photography from the day shot by James Smith.
Now we're sitting down for a break and a bite to eat - Give us a brief summary of your professional photography career so far and what you currently do?
For 20 years I never really strayed off the tunnel vision of being a landscape photographer of the built environment, founded on a Fine Art education at the University of Northampton and the Royal College of Art, London. I cut my teeth so to say by photographing Corby at the turn of the century going on to do a further major commission there for the borough council and private developers working in the Kingswood and Arran Way estates. My interest in the post-war landscape grew and then went on to do a 6 year study of New and Expanded Towns of the South-East called London Overspill and then on to theories in brutalism with Memorability as an Image . Currently I'm just completed a new 6 year body of work around ideas of the representation of territory through form.
How would explain your photographic style and art direction?
Pragmatic, objective, ambivalent, banal.
What are your processes with regards to research and scouting for locations to shoot?
My car is as important as my camera, I do rack up a few miles. The camera is always at hand but I use a slow, expensive process of 5x4 sheet film. I like to reccy a site beforehand without a camera and return with good weather conditions (a light, flat grey cloud cover which gives the subject even uniformed lighting). It's like the difference between a great movie and a bad one, if you remember it when you wake the following morning, it's of value.
Are there any specific subjects or photographers who you take inspiration from?
Photographic wise, Lewis Baltz, Noemie Goudal, Richard Mosse, Anna Vogel, recent read authors would be Reyner Banham, Graham Harman, Jon McGregor and Ben Smith.
What’s your favourite part about what you do as a photographer?
The finding of what no one else has taken notice of.
Any interesting plans post lockdown?
I'd like to visit Associate Engineer Sir Owen Williams 'Modern' bridge in Crubenmore, Scotland, he designed the original bridges along the M1 ...
Great. On to the next spot...
Thanks James for coming out and about for the day with the Crown Northampton team!
More of James' work can be found here:
Imagery in consecutive order:
Alex Natt - Shot on RB67 and Portra 400
James Smith - Shot on Linhof Technika on Kodak Portra 400 5x4 film
The Overstone Derby Hi, Black Calf with Gum Sole can be found here