Launched in 2013, PETRIe has grown into an international media enterprise providing a global platform for creative expression. Research, collaboration and thought-provoking journalism sit at the heart of PETRIe; continually challenging and inspiring our community with an unexpected viewpoint. These words are coupled with powerful and emotional imagery, curated specifically with substance, meaning and longevity in mind.
Exploring the theme of Narrative further, Eileen Slade interviews some of PETRIe’s key contributors and team members to discover their approach to storytelling and the development process in creating original imagery in narrating PETRIe’s own story.
ZADRIAN SMITH - EDITOR IN CHEIF
Eileen Slade: How do you usually begin the process of creating a concept? When researching, are there recurring commonalities in what you are drawn towards or inspired by?
Zadrian Smith: My dialogue with fashion from a creative perspective starts with the seasonal shows and presentations. I know there's a lot of fuss from editors now about attending shows because it's escalated into a bit of a circus. However, attending them is so important.
The audience has the opportunity to enter a manipulated space created by the designer. An indirect conversation between designer and audience begins and the more good designers you see, the more opportunity you have to assess what is happening in fashion at a given moment. Designers offer research cues and reference points, but what makes it interesting is when my subconscious goes into action, pulling from my personal archive things I have seen, heard and experienced as they relate to what I am seeing from the collections. A narrative between myself and the designers' visions commences and a concept soon begins to develop. When researching, I am usually most drawn to genuine, authentic photos of people; human characters, who convey a spirit and communicate to the viewer a specific moment in which they exist.
ES: Most would argue that in the majority of cases garments are the primary line of narrative communication within a fashion editorial. Would you agree?
ZS: It is true that garments play a massive role in a fashion image. However, more important than the garment is the character, the human being that is charged with conveying a story. Some of the most powerful images used as points of reference by members of the fashion industry are not fashion images at all, but they possess a soul and tell a story. After all, fashion and clothes tell stories about a person, where they come from, where they're going, who they are or want to be - it's a constant narrative.
When working on an editorial, it's really important for me to get lost in the world of the character, whose identity will be built around the team's collective research, accurately and vividly placing the character into a situation where they belong. The styling of the garments and selection of looks take their direction from this research; the character communicates how they should be dressed. However, you can only plan so much. You have to leave a certain element of creation to chance. The most beautiful moments are always the ones that are created in the moment; intuitive surprises that truly encapsulate what you are trying to convey with your narrative.
NICK FITZPATRICK - CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAHPER
ES: Much of your work could be described as image making or fine art as opposed to more traditional conceptions of fashion photography. Do you feel there is relevance of distinguishing styles of image making?
Nick Fitzpatrick: There are many, many ways in which defining your practice under a specific label will inevitably affect your audience’s (or, indeed, your own) conceptualisation or reaction to your work. There are lots of artists who take advantage of this by practising in ‘expanded’ fields; ‘painting’ that may not involve any paint, ‘poetry’ without words, so on. I much prefer that my work be approached with as little prior explanation (or, worse, justification) as possible. People will see my work as they will.
ES: In regard to communication of concept, what tools or methods do you rely upon in order to express the subject matter? Do you draw upon any particular commonalities in regard to reference?
NF: My method, subject, and concept aren’t always separable, so it’s difficult to answer this one! A lot of my techniques involve distortion, corruption, obfuscation, disintegration and such, so I most often find myself turning to ‘lossy’ tools. I draw reference from everywhere. I find music very useful in helping me to develop and consider ideas from new angles - in particular a lot of experimental or conceptual music.
BENJAMIN THAPA – CREATIVE DIRECTOR
ES: You are a member of the team responsible for the visual narrative of PETRIe as a whole, an amalgamation of many individual capsule stories encompassing different disciplines and points of view. How do you ensure cohesive communication whilst retaining diversity?
Benjamin Thapa: It’s certainly one of the trickier parts of PETRIe's identity. Many publications nestle themselves into a defined aesthetic and become easily recognisable by their style, mood, lighting or colour pallet. PETRIe chooses to define itself first and foremost in regard to concepts and ideas. We try to support anyone who has a unique point of view or passionate opinion; we try our best not to fall into any single pigeon hole.
When we have a body of work that we would like to present as a whole i.e. the print issue, we tie all content together through a recurring theme, in this case privacy and/or exposure. We asked our team and contributors to formulate proposals in reaction to this brief. We chose to commission based on originality in the interpretation of this materiel, and curated cohesion through the contrast of the commissions. We are telling an overarching story in regard to what privacy and exposure means, whist always retaining diversity; our readers coming to expect a completely different piece following the one they are currently reading.
ES: The role of Creative Direction involves providing starting points, concepts or narratives for others to execute; how do you find the process of handing over your ideas to a team? How does this affect the concept development?
BT: As Creative Director this is really the most enjoyable part of the creative process. I find research and the formation of ideas a lot of fun and welcome the continuing challenge of adding increasing depth to the references and intertwining of narratives. Like anybody, my personal point of view is limited. I bring my own memories, emotions and motivations to the table, and it’s only when you share them that the ideas really begin to grow into a concept that is more than the sum of its parts.
ANGELA HAMILTON-DALEY – BEAUTY EDITOR
ES: The celebration of strong female characters seems to be a recurring theme within your concepts. How do you feel your storytelling relates to your personal experiences and motivations?
Angela Hamilton-Daley: Over the last couple of years I've been on a personal journey of ‘self growth’ though therapy, revisiting experiences from my childhood and the last two decades. I went to an all-girls boarding school so I've always had close connections with female stories. I'm really fascinated with the depth of female emotions and what drives us to survive in this sexually orientated world. Looking at strong female characters is inspirational to me in that I feel a close connection with their emotional drive.
ES: As Beauty Editor you write both your own original shoot concepts as well as working to briefs provided by others. How do you find your approach differs when you are working to someone else's brief as opposed to your own?
AHD: When I'm working on someone else's brief I usually have specific input as a makeup artist so I'll focus my artistic direction within that sphere as opposed to the story as a whole.
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Words: Eileen Slade