A Chat with Dean Chalkley
Monday, 22nd Jul 2013
We caught up with Dean Chalkley, the man behind the lens at our Twisted Wheel Collection shoot.
Fred Perry had seen my Young Souls project and knew that there was a love and passion for Northern Soul – that project, in particular, showcases that there’s a younger generation who are now really into that music. When it came to the Twisted Wheel shoot, we talked about the approach and really wanted to capture the environment – the essence of the moves, the dancing. There’s a joy in it, which is completely real.
For this shoot, it was absolutely vital that we captured dancing and movement whilst showcasing the clothing. It’s a contemporary study – looking through the shoot, we can see that each person is in their element. There’s a great picture of Tomas, where his face is completely in the moment. He’s not smiling, he’s not posing for the camera; his focus is completely on dancing. Similarly there’s a shot of Emma, where she’s concentrating on her moves but there’s a lot of composure – Northern Soul dancing has a high level of energy and crazy moves, but there’s often a lot of grace and composure there too. It’s almost like a gymnastic performance – it’s like doing a vault, you have to land it properly.
Music is a vital influence for me and my work. Some people think that I’m actually a music photographer – I love music, but for me it’s so much more than a collection of notes and lyrics on a page that’s been performed incredibly well. For me, music is an all-encompassing thing – for example, when you think of Northern Soul, there were plenty of live bands that appeared at the all-nighters, but the scene was largely based around records. People will adore a record, because it makes you feel a particular way, it makes you adopt the essence of the scene. That links up music and photography for me, because I might go see a band play, and then when I photograph that band, I’ll work with them to try and apply the essence of their sound to the shoot. When you look at Northern Soul records, when they’re played out to an audience that are really into it, the dancefloor itself becomes the illustration of this sonic experience.
It’s really nice to see how Fred Perry have peppered little details through the designs – the rose, the badges. The Northern Soul scene is very diverse – there are the styles that are specific to the movement; the baggy trousers, the swing skirts, but the Twisted Wheel itself actually started out as a Beatnik club. The thing I love about the Northern Soul look is that it’s actually all-encompassing. Obviously things like the Fred Perry shirt have travelled throughout the whole of that period, they’ve always been worn on that scene – not only are they great looking, but they’re very practical, and perfect for dancing.
The models featured in the shoot are genuinely into it. They’re real people; they’ve not been selected from an agency because they fit a certain aesthetic. They have a depth of character that makes them a perfect fit not only to Fred Perry; but to the Twisted Wheel Collection itself.