In our next artist spotlight, we chat to Ami Barwell – a Yorkshire-based photographer who has worked with a diverse range of artists, from Ginger Wildheart through to Iggy Pop. Here, the visual artist discusses her inspirations and plans for 2014.
S] How did you get started?
A] “I’ve always loved taking photographs, as far back as I can remember – I always carried an old Kodak Instamatic around with me. I photograph anything and everything that excites and intrigues me. I used to take photographs at gigs in the local music venues of Hull and Leeds, in 1998 I photographed Snow Patrol – a few weeks after, they saw the photographs and hired me as their tour photographer. I then started to become in demand by other bands as a tour photographer – such as The Cooper Temple Clause, Blood Brothers, Young Heart Attack, Levellers and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.”
S] In the creative industries, a lot of emphasis is put on working down south and bigger cities like London and Manchester – can a creative make a go of it out of Yorkshire and in smaller cities?
A] “Definitely. I lived in London for five years and have recently moved back up North and shoots have been bigger and better than ever. Living in London does have it’s plus points, such as great access to bands and seeing more gigs and it does makes it easier to network on a daily basis, but down there – the cost of living is insane and pointless. I travel a lot for shoots all over the World, so it makes sense to me to live wherever I’m happiest. Living in Yorkshire rocks!”
S] What keeps you passionate outside of creating as a photographer?
A] “Love, music and wine.”
S] Who has been your favourite person to work with and why?
A] “It’s between Iggy Pop and Ian Brown. Iggy is a complete Rock ‘n’ Roll icon, and perfect to photograph – every crease tells a story! He was once talking about following your dreams and doing what you love and said “Never quit”. I still have it written on piece of paper, stuck up on my fridge. If I ever feel disheartened, I read it and think of Iggy’s wise words! Ian [Brown] is always a pleasure to work with, we have a great laugh and talk for hours, it makes for really intimate and intense shots. He’s been in touch recently and wants me to shoot for a future Stone Roses protect, however, for now my lips are sealed!”
S] What do you consider to be a highlight of your career?
A] The launch of the By Ami Barwell By Ben Sherman clothing range. I teamed up with Ben Sherman to launch an exclusive, limited-edition collection of rock ‘n’ roll T-shirts with my prints on. It was a huge success. Also, a couple of months ago I did another collaboration, this time with Converse, taking over a prestigious London tattoo parlour. I photographed every intimate detail of people getting tattooed, over a month long period, culminating in an exhibition of my images displayed in Soho.”
What would you say your biggest challenges are on a day to day basis?
A] “Finding new inspiration and coming up with unique and creative ideas for photo-shoots to make sure I stay at the top of the game. Saying that, I love a challenge, that’s what keeps life interesting!”
S] What are you working on at the minute, and what are your plans for this year?
A] “I’m currently planning a shoot for next week; an album cover shoot for a member of the Happy Mondays. It’s gonna be dark, dirty, sexy, mysterious – my usual style. I’ve got big plans for 2014 – I’ve got an exhibition Rock ‘n’ Roll Photography By Ami Barwell ready to hit a couple of galleries within the next few months. I’ve also recently launched Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby Bumps By Ami Barwell – photographing pregnancies – nude, dark, beautiful, intimate portraits of mums-to-be, with my unique and distinctive rock ‘n’ roll edge.”