In con­ver­sa­tion with Bri­tish fashion pho­tog­ra­pher Ja­son Bell

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai


He may have taken many pho­tos of some of the world’s most high pro­file celebri­ties in his life­time, but ask Bri­tish pho­tog­ra­pher Ja­son Bell which im­age ranks as his best and he’ll tell you that he has yet to shoot it.

An Ox­ford Univer­sity grad­u­ate who stud­ied pol­i­tics, eco­nom­ics and phi­los­o­phy, Bell is renowned for his images of per­son­al­i­ties such as Paul McCart­ney, Johnny Depp, Scar­lett Jo­hans­son and David Beck­ham.

He was also the per­son cho­sen to pho­to­graph Prince Ge­orge’s chris­ten­ing in 2013.

“I am proud of that. I can go any­where in the world and peo­ple would say that they know the photo of Prince Ge­orge. But I don’t know if it’s my best work. I think it’s al­ways the next pic­ture that gets me ex­cited the most,” the 47-year-old Lon­doner told China Daily USA in Shang­hai where he was work­ing as the guest pho­tog­ra­pher for the Shang­hai Fashion Week’s (SFW) clos­ing show by Bel­gium fashion de­signer Dirk Bikkembergs.

Fame and glam­our aside, Bell said it’s al­ways peo­ple that in­ter­est him the most.

“Even as a kid, I was in­ter­ested in peo­ple’s faces. Fashion is in­ter­est­ing to me as an ex­pres­sion of the per­son, not the other way around,” he said at the back­stage area for Bikkembergs’ show, one of the most pop­u­lar events at SFW this year.

“I pho­to­graph writ­ers, actors and politi­cians as well. I am in­ter­ested in a big­ger con­ver­sa­tion, rather than just the con­ver­sa­tion about fashion.”

Bell re­mem­bered how he started tak­ing pic­tures at the ten­der age of five and was by 13 al­ready learn­ing about devel­op­ing and print­ing his own pic­tures. How­ever, it was not un­til his col­lege years that he de­cided to make pho­tog­ra­phy a ca­reer.

Hav­ing wit­nessed the many changes in the fashion in­dus­try over the decades, Bell said that the big­gest change to the in­dus­try was brought about by the In­ter­net and so­cial net­works like In­sta­gram.

“The big change is the speed at which we get ac­cess to images and in­for­ma­tion and how peo­ple to­day can ex­ert greater in­flu­ences via th­ese medi­ums. It’s in­ter­est­ing how the opin­ions of well-known fashion blog­gers in the front row mat­ter to­day,” he said.

Bell, who usu­ally di­vides his time be­tween Lon­don and New York, be­lieves that now is a par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing time to be in China as peo­ple around the world are talk­ing about how important fashion is be­com­ing in the coun­try.

While he ac­knowl­edges that much of this con­ver­sa­tion is cen­tered on China’s spend­ing prow­ess in­stead of tal­ent for fashion de­sign, Bell be­lieves more cre­ative ideas will nonethe­less be con­ceived as a re­sult.

“I don’t re­ally want to be here just for com­mer­cial rea­sons. For me it’s more about the cul­ture that’s ex­cited by fashion. I think it’s important and great that China de­vel­ops its own fashion week, as it has now de­vel­oped it­self as a mar­ket,” he said.

When asked if he man­aged to get any good shots from the Dirk Bikkembergs show, he noted that there was a mo­ment when all the mod­els were just stand­ing around clothed in noth­ing but their un­der­pants.

“I think that one might be a win­ner,” said Bell.

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