Behind The Lens: Amy Peskett
Photographer and creative director Amy Peskett has a portfolio that is instantly identifiable within her niche of retro-futurism and vintage-inspired works. The Bournemouth-raised, London-based photographer transforms raw imagery into her irresistibly lo-fi cinematic vision praised by many.
Through her work, Amy Peskett seeks to explore notions of emotion and intimacy within femininity, often a reflection of self. “I like to photograph my models in a way I would like to be photographed and portrayed,” she shares. Heavily influenced by the Y2K era and traces of nostalgia, the bountiful use of lighting and hues are often evident in her work. “My ideas come from so many different places that I’ve somehow formed my own style and aesthetic that can be quite easily recognisable.” Amongst several notable brands and individuals, Peskett has worked with musicians such as Shaybo, Chi Virgo, and Mimi Webb as well as beloved labels like NiiHai, Nike, and Tres Rache to name a few.
For Behind The Lens, we spoke with Amy about her aesthetic, self-portraiture, and advice to young photographers amongst a list of other topics. Read on for our conversation.
What themes and ideas interest you when it comes to taking photos?
I don’t think I have a specific theme or idea when I’m taking the photos, it all comes after in my editing on Photoshop. I like to make my images look completely different to how I’ve shot them and that’s the beauty of heavy multimedia editing and post-production. I do think that I take a lot of ideas from the films I watch, music I listen to, old fashion campaigns and my day to day experiences, moods and feelings. I would say most of my imagery is very spontaneous, not too thought about or planned.
How much do you think being in a multicultural hub such as London has informed your style?
Moving to London to study for my degree after growing up in my small coastal town of Bournemouth was super exciting and eye-opening for me, and I defiantly wouldn’t be where I am today without all the inspiring and different people I met.
As a young aspiring stylist and photographer at university and having the fashion hub of London at my feet, I met so many cool and interesting people I could use as a muse, I remember using all my housemates as models and shoot them in the clothing that my other housemate had designed, everything was so DIY, these shoots were some of my earliest work and favourite shoots which made me want to take it seriously. I then began to test shoot a lot with modelling agencies such as Anti and Revolt Models which started to make my work look super professional and interesting.
London and my university course were so multicultural compared to back at home, as an artist and person of colour, I felt like I could express myself more and go out of my comfort zone a lot more than having to fit in with the crowd or norm.
A lot of your images focus on perceptions and constructions of 90s Vintage and the Y2K Era. Is that something you’ve always been interested in?
The 90s and Y2k era is something that is very trendy right now in fashion, my early inspirations while I was still at uni were 90s imagery such as Jil Sander and Calvin Klein adverts because I loved the cold colours, intimacy and poses to them, similar to say photographers today like Hugo Comte.
I’ve always liked a rawness to photos. In uni, I would print and scan my images into zines, this would add a certain graininess to them but I also liked the way it changed the colours and how it made them look, then the way I would colour grade after—I almost like to make them look cinematic. I would describe my work more as “lo-fi” and that’s how people recognise it.
When it comes to many photographers they try to emphasise a message or common theme within their work, What point are you trying to get across through your photography, if there is one?
I think growing up and even sometimes now, I’ve always been a little insecure in myself, how I look and come across to people, especially in photos, I notice I always photograph my muses in angles and ways that I would want to be photographed, I definitely like to show my female gaze and feminity within my images through intimacy, point of view, the colours and the mood.
Because of this, I’ve had people tell me that I’ve captured them at their best angles and made them feel good about themselves – especially women! I don’t think too much into it when photographing people but I want it to come across as quite dramatic, cinematic and film-like, as if we’ve just been transported into a movie scene.
Can you tell us about your relationship with the subjects you shoot? Given that is a form of collaboration, how do you create a form of medium of aesthetic expression that satisfies both you and those who are in front of the lens?
As I said before, I like to photograph my models in a way I would like to be photographed and portrayed, I think you can often tell when a woman has taken the photo, it’s always much softer. But I do like to make my images sexy, intimate and emotional, and have some drama to them.
Obviously, as an artist, I like to be respected for my art and direction but I usually show my subject the images when I’m taking them so they can be comfortable as possible with how they look and their poses and have fun while we are shooting. Every single person whether you’re a model or talent and used to being in front of the camera, its important everyone is enjoying the experience as then the best outcome will happen
I absolutely love it on shoots when everyone is having fun, I always end up making many friends with the models and team because it’s always such a fun experience and collaboration.
You have such a strong aesthetic, capturing nostalgia with modern times. How do you replicate that when you shoot editorial or more intimate works?
You’ve described my work so well in a way I didn’t even think of! “The feeling of Nostalgia with modern-day twists and aesthetics.” I think this is because of my ideas coming from so many different places that I’ve somehow formed my own style and aesthetic that can be quite easily recognizable. I think my main themes can be feminity, youth and nostalgia from feelings and movies. Even when shooting high fashion Editorials I will bring my style into it e.g a recent editorial for Numero Berlin was a cold 90’s retro-futuristic but youthful look book for Louis Vuitton AW21.
Me and the stylist wanted to bring something very fresh and different to what LV represented. My work is so lo-fi, fun and spontaneous I had no idea how they were going to trust me with the vision but it was one of the best and funnest shoots I’ve ever done! I really enjoy fashion editorials more than anything. You can have so much fun with it and it’s so rewarding to see yourself in print.
My other personal and more intimate works are usually a lot more casual, I love shooting in fun locations and knowing my muse a bit before I shoot with them so I can capture them at their most relaxed at create a memory and nostalgia, more like documentary then fashion photography. Photographers like Petra Collins with her ‘teenage gaze’ imagery inspired me from a young age.
One thing that I love about not only you and your portfolio is that you don’t shy away from self-portraiture. How has that changed- or amplified the way you view yourself?
My self-portraiture began in lockdown when I had no one else to photograph and I wanted to practice my photoshop skills and create some art, it’s not like I’ve ever hated the way I look but I never saw myself as someone in front of the camera because I used to be shy or never thought of myself as a muse or “cool enough.” I guess as a photographer and director you know all your own angles, poses and I can also set up the photo how I want to and choose how I come across and that has really helped with my confidence. But it can now make me quite fussy when being photographed for other things as people don’t have the same eye as me!
I started doing “self-portraits” regularly to collaborate with my favourite small and upcoming designers and it’s continued ever since and I have been so lucky to work with so many talented people and wear their clothes and create imagery for them using my own face. Some people like to call it ‘influencing’ but I still add my own touch to it through my art. It’s a fun way to express my own style and show my face as an artist. I feel like when there is a face to the artist they’re so much more approachable, some artists never show their face! It’s an honour to have been recognised when at an event or out in public.
What advice would you give for someone much earlier in their creative path that is looking to find themselves through photography or other forms of art?
My advice would be just create all the time. You have an idea brewing, just do it, don’t wait around—it’s not about how you’ve shot or who you’ve worked with, it’s the art you create, your passion for it and who notices your passion, it will pay off. A lot of people think its from connections, who you know and your background but the way I did was literally just from posting my work on Instagram all the time, collaborating with people who noticed my talent, grow my connections.
I had to do a lot of things for free and I do still, for exposure, up until recently I worked 3-4 days in a restaurant as a side job and still do now again on weekends. I see a lot of people not sharing their art but I think the only way into getting noticed is to get it out everywhere! I’m so glad I did and grateful people started to notice me, I continue to create as much as I can so that my work and name continues to grow! The more you create the more you improve and find your individual style which is what you will get noticed for.