THE TURN UP how Instagram RY discovers TEWKESBU LYDIA together Plymouth creatives brought two
When Jo Barker returned to Plymouth from Australia to open her hair salon, YOKE and Sarah Brittain Edwards moved down to Cornwall with her young family, both women – Jo, a hair stylist and Sarah, a photographer and art director – found themselves in unexpected creative isolation. Starting over is hard enough under normal circumstances, but building a creative network from the ground up proved an even greater challenge.
Sarah explains: “I was desperately trying to find people that are creative, because although this is such a creative area nobody comes together in one place.”
‘I was desperately trying to find people that are creative, because although this is such a creative area nobody comes together in one place’
She went along to the Native Makers market in Plymouth, a platform for emerging makers and designers, and ended up swapping Instagram info with the person who would lead her to Jo – at the time herself just in the process of opening YOKE for business.
Sarah and Jo met at a vital time in their creative careers, with both looking to flex their imaginative muscles rather than, as Sarah put it ‘chase the pound’. Both were reluctant to ‘spam’ other local creatives with their work, looking for a collaboration driven by passion – something they eventually found in each other. Putting together a photo shoot was never on the cards when they first met, but as they got to know each other and shared their mutual frustrations the plan began to fall into place. The shoot came about very organically and was about, first and foremost, creativity for creativity’s sake. Sarah says: “It started off that it was going to be a test shoot, so we weren’t thinking that it was going to be for anything in particular.”
Enthusiasm soon took over however, so it wasn’t long before she and Jo were planning a very professional shoot. Sarah is a trained fashion photographer whose work has appeared in a variety of publications including The Sunday Times and Jo a hair stylist with experience with the likes of L’oreal – so both have strong fashion credentials evident in the beautiful images their collaboration produced.
The shoot was also a test run, so both women could find out whether or not they were able to work together. As anyone who has ever worked on a project like this can attest, connection with collaborators is key – for your sanity and the quality of your work. From the off though, Sarah and Jo were on the same page, and quickly formed trust in each other’s working styles. They agreed early on that neither of them wanted to over plan. Sarah explains: “Sometimes things don’t work if you plan it all down to a T. Obviously there are some situations where that has to be done, but when you’ve got the chance to be creative and you’re working with people who are happy to just go with it then you end up getting really good shots. Because what you’ve planned might look good, but once you’re in from of the camera if it’s really not working then you’ve got the flexibility to change it to get the best shot that you can.”
It’s obvious to see that both Sarah and Jo revelled in the freedom this project provided them, as well as the relief of having found a partner to work with. Jo says: “I like working with a team and I really feed off other people’s creativity, so if someone else is super passionate about something I just suck it up.”
Building a network of creative collaborators from scratch is a difficult task, but through determination, Jo and Sarah have started the process for themselves.