At the end of last year I had the opportunity of being (if you will forgive) “exposed” to a new experience. I am a photographer, amongst other things both good and bad, but had never modelled for a photo shoot myself. Glancing through various pages of a certain well known social interwebbular site I noticed a request for a man in their mid-40’s to model for a magazine. I have always considered the chances of taking part in such an activity as being zero, however being bang on the money regarding age I thought “why not give it a go?” An application was sent, considered, turned down due to the wardrobe available, re-considered when the prime candidate dropped out and finally accepted. This proved most fortuitous as it not only promised to be an interesting day out but it also brought me into the sphere of “In Retrospect” magazine.
In Retrospect is the brain child and pet of Mat Keller, a strikingly tall fellow who has been a part of the “vintage scene” for many years in a number of capacities. There are other publications out there catering for the same general audience but his seems to have a more focussed remit, albeit covering an inherently wider spread of subject matter. In Retrospect has the sincere soul of the devotee stylishly applied to the fashions and culture of previous decades, along with their application and influence in the present. You only need look at the logo with its clear Bauhaus inspiration, something I discussed with Mat in his Brighton office where we had all rendezvoused. I dare say there was something “nerdy” about our exchange regarding fonts and typefaces but trust me, its all heady stuff to those of us with our hearts in the between wars period. Look to Bauhaus but also look to Rodchenko and the Constructivists to see what I mean. Of more importance though was the fact that he provided free coffee and biscuits while the four of us who were to appear in the photographs tried on our outfits and then had our hair and makeup done. Thankfully I only needed minimal foundation and a few small blasts of the hairspray. Am I the only one who thinks that the use of hairspray makes you feel like you’ve got a dollop of candyfloss on your head? Once our entourage were ready we headed over to a posh hotel at Brighton Marina where Mat had arranged for the shoot itself to take place on the decking outside their top floor bar. Being the consummate professional he is, he’d timed it to perfection for the sunset.
I have to say it was all rather fun lounging about dressed to the nines “finding the truth of one’s character” while hotel guests glanced across in bemused curiosity. We even had one lady leave a large party in the adjoining function room to ask if it was “all for a play or something?” I gave her a tolerant smile, sighed in a pitying manner and explained how it was for a prestigious magazine (well, I may never get the chance to do such a thing again so I had to make the most of it). Standing and posing was something I found alarmingly easy and, as I wasn’t given a huge amount of direction, assume that I had indeed “nailed my motivation” and “exfoliated towards the camera” or whatever the correct terms are. I was told once “remember its about the clothes, its not about you” but I take that as being a badge of honour.
Did I gain any revelatory insights? Watching Mat work was very helpful, as much as anything giving me reassurance regarding the way I approach these things myself. The main thing is that on the whole it was a magnificent, fun experience with a really nice bunch of people. If, similarly, new opportunities present themselves to you then take them – you will only regret it if you don’t. How did the pictures work out? You will just have to keep an eye on here to find out http://inretrospectmagazine.com/