In recognition of Autumn's arrival, radical florist Vivien Hollingsworth (featured here) put together the vividly inviting installation that graces our windows this month. To capture the ephemeral display and it's construction, we invited regular Radical Yes! photographer Samee Lapham. The images that followed effortlessly reflect Viv's process and the playful interaction between the garlands and AW17 Bibliothèque.
- Interview by Kerryn Moscicki, intro by Alex Birch, images by Samee Lapham and The Kind Guide.
For this project we asked you to document Viv 'in-process' making the straw flower garlands she later hung in store. As a photographer how do you approach this type of storytelling? What details are you looking for?
I like to blend into the background and make the person I’m photographing feel as comfortable as possible—like I’m just a friend that’s come to visit. I don’t like to stage any of my shots, I just like to observe what’s happening, take in the environment and be ready to capture something noteworthy at a moments notice.
Since I have worked with Viv before, there was a very relaxed approach to this shoot. In saying that, Viv works very quickly and is constantly moving, so I’m often focused on capturing similar shots a number of times while she’s busy creating. I generally go into a shoot with a mental list of the types of shots I’d like to get. I’m looking for moments that show parts of her process, her connection to the flowers and how she moves with and around them, and what tools she’s using. I’ve also got to be aware of what the overall scene is like and if any products are present.
You are both a designer and a photographer. Are there differences in the way you approach each practice? Or do you find that each discipline forms a part of a bigger vision when working on your own projects?
There are definitely different ways I approach design and photography (at this point in time anyway!). Design for me is very much a balance between problem solving and conceptual thinking. Having worked primarily in user experience and web design, it can be very analytical and often demands a sound reason for why you decide on a certain direction. With photography, it’s like an escape from that for me. I am able to fully express and rely entirely on how I see something, and let that become a story for what it is. I love that element of trust from a client and in turn that feeling of trust with myself; that I am as prepared as I need to be to arrive at a location, take a whole heap of photos, and produce a story that can be shared with others. I particularly love the element of curating images together to embody a full story, and I think that’s probably where design and photography intertwine for me—I am able to create the type of content I have always wanted to work with as a designer.
You are passionate about ethical, social and sustainable business. Tell us more about The Kind Guide and how this project came about.
It was when I was living abroad over 2013-2015 that I became friends with the owner of an ethical fashion boutique in London, called The Keep. I ended up working in the store temporarily whilst I redesigned her website, and it was through this experience I became acutely aware of what brands were doing amazingly great things in comparison to those who weren’t. It was when The Keep hosted a screening of The True Cost documentary that really altered my overall understanding of the fashion industry—everyone must see this film!
To cut a long story short, when I returned to Australia I wasn’t sure where to shop anymore (and I needed shoes, funnily enough!) It was through a whole heap of research that I started accumulating brands and makers who were openly transparent about their manufacturing and how they were limiting their impacts on the environment. If I needed something new, I wanted to know the whole story of who I was buying from—which sounds intense, I know! My spreadsheet was getting out of control and my friends were regularly asking me where I recommended they go to shop, and so I put two-and-two together and started building my own website to keep track of everything and eventually share it all.
It soon grew into a much bigger vision and a much bigger project than I had initially anticipated, but I’m really excited to be (finally) launching the site very very soon. I hope it will be a useful resource for others to find brands that resonate with their values, and to educate and inspire more people to ask the right questions.
How are your new radical toe tappers working out?
I absolutely love them! They are so surprisingly comfortable, and as I am regularly on my feet all day I think they will become my go-to for winter!