Brooklyn Beckham shares pictures from his new photography book – including some candid family photos.
Given that his parents are David and Victoria Beckham, I am expecting Brooklyn Beckham to look freakishly familiar, and bed rip ping with self- entitlement and Saint Laurent. I am definitely not expecting him to be nervous. Yet nervous he is, his words hesitant and softly spoken, albeit in the bicoastal cadence that distinguishes the international jet set. Whatever the privileges of his birth, Brooklyn is modest, well mannered and markedly less cocky than the average 18-year-old.
He became interested in photography when he was 14, shortly after the family moved back to London from Los Angeles. ‘My dad bought me my first camera [a Fujifilm, though he has since moved on to Leicas]. I just carried it around and started taking photos .’ He is currently studying photography at an arts college in north London, where fellow pupils include Rocco Ritchie and Anaïs Gallagher, and is about to sit his A-levels when we meet. ‘I feel like I should be nervous, but I’m really not,’ he says. ‘What happens, happens.’
It already has. In August, he will take up a place at one of the most prestigious art and design colleges in New York. ‘I got in on my own, not because of my parents,’ he says. ‘Which is cool. And they gave me a scholarship, so…’
Has he decided where he’s going to live?
‘It sounds bad but I don’t ask people if I can take their photo’
‘Brooklyn! No, I’m joking.’ He realised ‘three or four years ago’ that it was not his destiny to be a footballer. ‘It was really hard,’ he says. ‘I played football for 14 years, and most people expected me to go in my dad’s direction. I felt I had to play better than all the other boys. Even when I messed up a little, they were like, “OMG, David Beckham’s son messed up.” I love playing football – I still sometimes play it–but there was a lot of pressure on me. And then I kind of manned up and said to my dad, “Do you mind?” He was always chilled about it. He wanted me to do whatever made me happy.’
That Brooklyn was hired to photograph a fragrance campaign for Burberry aged 16 was inevitably a source of amusement and even outrage to his detractors. But if last year’ s Burberry Brit campaign( for which he shot a series of portraits of young, up-and- coming models) served to introduce the concept of Brooklyn-as-photog rapher to t he world, his new book strengthens the idea that he is serious about his photography. Featuring 300 images drawn from his travels, his family life and his day-to-day life in London and New York, What I See‘ offers his followers a rare glimpse at the world through his eyes ’, according to publisher Penguin Random House. Fans will especially love the relaxed and candid nature of the family shots, whose off-duty
‘I love playing football but there was a lot of pressure’
feel is a charming counterpoint to the clenched pap shots and tightly controlled prism through which one of the world’ s most famous families is generally seen.
How do the Beckhams feel about him taking their picture ?‘ It was hard to get them approved,’ he says wryly .‘ Took bloody ages. Most times, I’m secretive about taking them. If my mum sees me taking a picture, she kind of poses and stuff, and I don’t really like that.’
He say she carries his camera ‘ever y where – I never turn it off’ – which must be disconcerting for his friends and family. ‘None of my photos are set. I like using natural light. That’s why Steven Meisel is one of my favourites – when he uses natural light. It’s harder than a studio.’
The book shows just how much Brooklyn has travelled, with lush shots of New York, Los Angeles and Kenya, and some stunning scenic shots of Iceland .‘ I loved Iceland ,’ he says dreamily. ‘The views were insane. It was crazy. We went salmon fishing.’
Was that a family holiday, I ask, imagining Victoria in galoshes, a rod in one hand and a maggot in the other. ‘One of Cruz’s friends is Icelandic. We went to visit them, and they showed us how to salmon fish. I didn’t catch anything, but it was fun.’
Though he won’t rule out doing more fashion photography in the future, Brooklyn prefers reportage. ‘Lately, I’ve been going to Camden and… I know this sounds bad, but I don’t ask people if I can take their photo. I just go up in their face, because you get their proper reaction. But some get mad. Like, if they see me pointing [my camera] at them, they kind of move to the side. People get really weird about it. I don’t know why.’ Partly as a way of engaging him – and partly, I admit, as a way of testing how much he knows about his subject, I ask whether he gets quite nerdy about his lenses. ‘Very nerdy,’ he says. What’s his favourite? ‘My dad got it for me for my birthday… the 50 mm. It goes down to a 0.95 which means you can literally shoot in the dark,’ he says. ‘It’s such a hard lens to get. You can shoot at night and see the stars and stuff.’
Is he one of those photographers who treat their cameras like newborn babies, and won’t let anyone else touch them?
‘Um… yes and no. But I really do look after them.’
So he wouldn’t let any of his friends have a go?
‘No ,’ he says quickly .‘ Well, it depends. Like, I only have two mates I can trust. With my camera, I mean. I don’t let just anyone use my camera.’
What about his family? Has anyone ever broken his equipment?
‘O of !’ he says .‘ Well, it was an accident. But on holiday, at Christmas, me and my brother were sit-
‘I feel people will respect me more now that I’m moving to New York’
ting on the front of a speedboat. And I was sitting on a towel, and my camera was in between my legs. I turned to the side of the boat, and then my brother got up and the towel went up and my camera fell into the ocean.’ Oof, indeed. Which brother? Name and shame! ‘Cruz. He was devastated.’ He says he loves taking pictures of his family. ‘Especially my little sister,’ he beams.
I am delighted that he has brought up Harper, a subject I feared might be verboten. ‘It’s been amazing – really different,’ he says of having a sister. ‘I haven’t really remembered Romeo and Cruz being young, because I was young as well, but seeing Harper grow up is pretty cool.’ Does she ever let him do her hair? ‘Never,’ he says, looking horrified. Given t hat she has st rong opinions about her mother ’s
clot hes, does Harper ever tell him off for what he wears? ‘She does. Although the other day, she came up to me and was like, “Brookly n, you actually have pret t y good dress sense.” She actually came up to me and said that,’ he says, looking chuffed.
What was he wearing to warrant the accolade? ‘I just wear… not today, but I usually wear proper country clothes. Like a baker boy hat, Peaky Blinders kind of thing. I don’t really wear it to school, but that’s basically my look.’ Like a country gent? ‘Yeah.’ It sounds as though Harper favours a smarter look, I say. ‘Yeah.’ To be a Beckham child is to be perpetually doubted for your talents: with all four now registered as brands, it comes with t he ter r itor y. Whatever else t heir det ractors might accuse them of, nobody can say David and Victoria have ever been afraid of hard work, and this ethic appears to have been passed on to their eldest. If dedication is the key to success, Brooklyn is halfway there. ‘I don’t think people realise now that this is what I want to do,’ he says earnestly. ‘That’s why I show people this.’ He pulls up the arm of his Kappa hoodie, revealing a lifesize tattoo of a Leica camera. Oh! I say. Who did that? ‘Woo.’ Who? ‘Woo. He’s an LA artist. He’s insane.’ How sore was it? ‘Wasn’t that sore.’ How long did it take? ‘Five hours. When I got this and showed people, they were like, “Why did you get that?” And I’m like, “Because I’m serious about photography – that’s what I want to do.” And they’re like, “What happens if you change your mind?” But I feel like people will respect me more now that I’m moving to New York on my own. Once this book comes out, I feel people will take me seriously as a photographer.’ He pauses. ‘Hopefully.’
What I See (£16.99, Penguin Random House UK), by Brooklyn Beckham, is published on 28 June. To order your copy for £14.99 plus p&p call 0844-871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk. The book, which contains 300 images, will be launched with an exhibition in partnership with Polo Ralph Lauren at Christie’s, 103 New Bond Street, London, on 27 June. The exhibition will run until 7 July before moving to Los Angeles in August
Top Untitled, London (‘Romeo and I were waiting to see our sister’s ballet recital and we bought her flowers. I love this picture’).
Above Cody at the Beach, Los Angeles
Top Untitled, London (‘My sister loves drawing. I taught her and we do it together sometimes. This is her at the kitchen table’).
Above Coney Island, August 2016
Above Untitled, Coney Island