For our latest #StellaBy collaboration we borrow the captivating lens of fashion and portrait photographer Nadine Ijewere. Nadine is a South Londoner and is part Jamaican and part Nigerian. She studied at the London College of Fashion and has not looked back since.
Nadine’s work reveals hidden depths in her subjects, shining a light on their strengths and vulnerabilities. We cannot get enough of her subtle yet striking use of colour, while her sense of storytelling leads our imaginations on a journey of discovery. She not only challenges the boxing-in of people and segregation with her photographs, but champions diversity as well, which we celebrate as a House.
Her photographs explore orientalism in fashion – the result is a powerful eclecticism and creativity to lead and entrance the eye. Check out her project called ‘The Misrepresentation of Representation’ if you want to find out more. We also love her most well-known series called Same/Difference that looks at the meaning of beauty through tender portraits of siblings.
In this series, Nadine heads to Nigeria where her roots are still strong, putting our latest women’s and men’s collection at the centre of her storytelling.
Nadine, an important part of your work is storytelling. What inspires you?
Culture is a big inspiration of mine as well as identity which is a reoccurring theme within my work.
How did you get in to photography?
I started dabbling in film-photography during my A-levels. I really enjoyed the process and the excitement of not knowing what the final image was going to look like until I saw the negatives. It was so much more refreshing than digital – I found myself thinking more about the image as you have a limited amount of frames to work with.
Do you think growing up in South-London has influenced your work? What is your favourite thing about the area?
Yes, South London has a lot of culture and diversity. Growing up there I was surrounded by it: wonderful foods; glorious fabrics; textures and raw, beautiful people. Within my work is definitely that element of diversity and identity; celebrating different kinds of beauty.
Models: Nelson (left), Joseph & Nelson (right)
How did the location in Nigeria inspire this shoot?
I wanted to keep the raw, earthy element that is present in a lot of my work and at the same time I wanted to shoot this project where I have family heritage, using people with my background. I think this adds a more personal approach to the images. As the project is called #StellaBy I really wanted to add more of my identity to the imagery. I wanted to give a feeling of diversity and not sticking to the rules – being different. Nigeria is a country that is known to be quite conservative, particularly in fashion with no blurring between lines. So I wanted shake things up a bit.
Does your heritage inform your work?
Sometimes it does, perhaps most in the subjects I chose. I am always drawn to subjects that are not as well represented in fashion imagery. That’s not to say I am trying to create representations – far from it! My work is all about celebration of diversity and different interpretations of beauty. I think it’s a wonderful thing and I want to capture that.
Do clothes play any role in your photography, or does it make you think about their role in society?
I think styling and clothes definitely play a part in my work as they can cement what I am trying to say. Styling or the way clothing is worn can create different interpretations. For me, I adore taking portraits of faces – the eyes are the most important feature. In this instance the clothing sometimes does not matter as much because I want to capture the essence of the subject.
How do you choose the people in your photos?
That depends; it ranges from seeing someone on the street or Instagram – I am just drawn to them. I see something beautiful and I want to capture it. In some cases, just walking up to people is not an option. For this shoot I was lucky to have some help when I wanted to cast certain people. There is a certain way to talk to people in Nigeria; you have to be firm and confident in whatever you do.
What was it like shooting in Nigeria?
Overall it was a great experience. However, you tend to draw attention which is sometimes unpleasant, especially when it’s something that people are not used to there. But you have to try to understand and be respectful of them. For instance, we had one of the more ‘flamboyant’ looks on one of the guys when we went to the fishing village. People began calling out as they found it quite offensive so I moved the team elsewhere.
How did you interpret the Summer men’s and women’s collections?
With the bright strong colours and bold patterns. I wanted to shoot the clothing to reflect this.
Ib Kamara styled the shoot. What was it like working with him?
Ib and I go way back. We have known each other for about 8 years and started out together. It’s been amazing to also see him grow and become more comfortable in his work. He’s always so lovely to create images with.
You dressed some of the male models in our womenswear collection. What effect does that have in your view?
I think it questions the labelling of ‘womenswear’ and brings more character to the work.
What challenges do you face in your work?
When you think you aren’t good enough or experience moments where your creativity feels drained. Many artists battle with this constantly but then I think to myself, ‘I don’t do photography to be successful. I do it because it’s something I am passionate about, to celebrate identity and give a visual insight.’
Models: Olasunkanmi (left), Victoria (right)
If you could have one super power what would it be?
That my eyes could capture images… If that’s even a power. From day-to-day I see such great moments where I wish I had a camera. So it would be great to have the camera in my eyes already!
Tell us something about yourself that may seem surprising.
Everyone thinks I’m going to be short when they meet me but I’m actually 6’3.
Models: Victoria (left), Joseph (right)