10?’s with photographer and style guru, Neil Bedford
To keep our ongoing 10 Questions series fresh we need to go beyond just design. Lately, we’ve chatted with chefs, illustrators and poets... But as of yet no out-and-out photographers... We thought we needed to change that, and thanks to one of our faves, here we are.
First off, for someone whose work is so clean, considered and stunning. Is there a thought behind why you choose to have such an exuberant logo? And whose handwriting is it anyway?
I guess that’s the real me wanting to be seen. I was very bored of logos that were either black fonts on white backgrounds or just initials. I like to think of it as my way of looking back to myself as a child and telling him everything is alright and we got there in the end. It’s an adapted version of my handwriting that I wrote during the first lockdown as I searched for something to fill the days with.
Maybe it’s time to rebrand, if you know any decent graphic designers….
What is photography really about? (And we don’t mean on a technical level.)
I think I’m still asking myself that too. With portraiture, I like to think of photography as a conversation that I observe and get to freeze-frame moments from it. During a portrait session, I like to take time to talk, listen and understand who I’m photographing before I take any photographs as I can try and quickly learn who the person might really be, not just what they present. I watch and assess their mannerisms and try to incorporate them into the photograph if I think that will give the viewer a better understanding of that person.
In the wider realm of ‘what is photography’ I think that’s evolving faster than ever. Through digital imagery and AI, we are seeing things that would have been almost impossible through the origins of photography, which was simply to document a person, place or object to be preserved forever. We now have the technology to remake history, people, and merge objects together to form completely new ones.
It actually scares me what’s possible.
You’ve photographed some incredible people, such as Kobe, Beckham and Nigella Lawson. Who’s been the most interesting? Any surprises?
I find musicians generally are the most interesting people as they have something to say, or sing LOL. Musicians merge art, fashion and culture together and that’s what I really love. They have a vision, an image and they are the true definition of ‘influence’ to me as they are the people I looked towards for creativity when I was younger. They express themselves through fashion and art, they are the whole image and that’s so exciting to see.
I might be biased here but shooting Sergio Pizzorno, who I’ve shot for the last 12 years, is always interesting as it becomes a collaboration of ideas every time. He doesn’t sit still and is incredibly talented and always working on something, be it music, art, concepts or imagery.
We call it clean, considered and stunning, but can you define your photography style in your own three words?
Don’t. Stop. Believing.
You’ve been on tour with Kasabian before, so you must know their music pretty well. Can you tell us your favourite song of theirs?
That’s right, it’s actually been 12 years since I first went on tour with them and I’m still going out now, so it’s a good job I have more than one of their songs on my favourite playlist.
It is really hard to get down to one, so I’ll do two if that’s okay. Happiness and Letting Go. Both are beautifully written and the lyrics really seem to talk to me. I mean, I love pretty much all of their tracks as I was a fan before I had the opportunity to work with them.
Are you still a streetwear-head or have you branched into other fashion genres? If so what? If no, why?
I became obsessed with A Bathing Ape, Stussy and Supreme in the early 2000s and in more recent years Palace so I guess I could still be deemed a streetwear-head, although these days it’s more fashionable to be into those things as the fashion houses take from and collaborate with these brands.
I’m not overly adventurous when it comes to fashion, when I find something I like I tend to stick to that brand and I’ll wear the same stuff for years.
Do you have any photography idols? Or just any idols in general?
They were all doing it when photography was pure craft and seemed, in my opinion, to mean more. They became the masters and remain my masters to this day.
Kevin Cummins is responsible for some of the greatest-known music photographs, working with just about every band from the ’60s to the ’90s. I used to take inspiration from his work whilst I was at University and try and incorporate it into more fashion-led imagery. I was then lucky enough to travel with Kevin for a job with Adidas and had to stop myself from total fanboying.
Photographers love to debate what the best cameras are and their faves. What would your desert island camera be? Film, digital or whatever.
That’s tricky as I’m not massively geeky when it comes to cameras and lenses. I’m more into the lighting and grading which can be captured and applied to any photograph regardless of the camera it was taken on.
I guess for nostalgia sake I’d take the camera I used to get into university which was a Sony Mavica that shot straight back to floppy discs. I would quite like to spend time with that camera now I’m working in the industry and see what it could actually do.
You’re often described as a sports or music photographer. Shooting lots of sports stars and lots of musicians as people see you can do that well and come to you for more.
How do you feel about that? Do you enjoy the continual and familiar work this brings or would you prefer to try new things each time? Is being pigeonholed or labelled like this a good thing?
Weirdly, those are the two lesser areas I work in, at least commercially. My job is a privilege and every time I start a new project with a client I like to remember the 22-year-old back in uni that would have killed to be where I am.
I don’t really mind if I’m somewhat pigeonholed or labelled as there’s not much I can do to change that, but I guess it could be a compliment as you were excelling in a certain area. The continuation and formality are good for anxieties as it takes the stress out of the situation, but I do also love trying new things. I think if you know who you are as a ‘brand’ then it’s quite easy to dip in and out of different genres of photography and allow yourself to try everything.
And to end. Hypothetically… If we had a day out in your hometown of Bradford, where should we go?
National Science and Media Museum, Valley Parade, Salts Mill, Oak Rise in Hunsworth and Odsal Top.
Neil Bedford is a photographer, originally from Bradford, Northern England, who is known for his work in advertising, music, sport, portraiture, editorials and being the official Kasabian band photographer. Represented by Making Pictures, he has photographed the likes of Liam Gallagher, Kobe Bryant, Ed Sheeran, Nico Rosberg, Wiz Khalifa, Rupert Grint, Lionel Messi, and many, many more.