Sunday, 29 November 2009

Interview #5 - Louie Banks

This is the interview you've been waiting for. Probably not all your life, but most of it. Get ready to meet Approaching Velocity's fifth photographer... Louie Banks.

Mr Banks can do nothing wrong; he's worked with Rankin, photographed for numerous covers and clothing companies, and owns one of the hottest new magazines in the UK, Gang Up. Whatever your expectations, Louie trumps them. He's a fucking nice guy too. Bastard.

Hey Louie,


What is your background to photography?

I basically started when I decided to do an A-level in photography just over two years ago... I was always bad academically and loved the arts; I always liked looking at photography in fashion magazines so thought I'd give it a go myself. I haven't really got an interesting story behind it, but I loved my course and spent all my time doing photoshoots, getting an 'A' in the course but failing every other A-level I had taken. Well worth it though.

If you had to describe your photography, how would you?

I guess it's fashion photography... without the fashion element of selling clothes that usually comes with fashion photography. It's quite alternative and not too commercial... whilst being sexy, I hope.

Nearly all your photographs are of people, and fashion. What attracts you to people and fashion so much?

People are so much more interesting to shoot. A shoot with a person is much more interactive than a shoot with a tree or something. I almost always shoot with very interesting, outgoing friends of mine and so you never know what's going to happen. You could go out with a strong image in your head but when you are shooting a person you are never going to get the result you were looking for.... it's spontaneous and you get much better results when that's the case. I am shooting a lot more documentary style pictures on film however... but only for my own benefit. I probably have about 20 films waiting to be developed when I get a bit of money.

Like Eleni in our last interview, you constantly experiment with your photography; using different camera formats, styles and subject content. Is there a particular reason the content and medium of your photography is so varied?

Yes: The fact that I actually know fuck all about photography. I know that sounds a bit stupid but I don't know any of the technical stuff and really want to learn how to use different formats, I have used a lot of digital recently out of complete laziness and I am going to use film a lot more and just get used to it as I think if it's done well, the results are so much better. Also I love polaroid, so tried to use that whenever I could (having no money didn't help) and I am waiting for the relaunch of polaroid in January... woop woop! I am saving up to buy a Polaroid land camera and a medium format as I would love to shoot on those two a lot more.

What influences your photography? 

Everything. Mainly people. I live in Brighton and there are a lot of interesting characters around.

The Internet has transformed the way people create, disseminate and consume art. How has this affected your photography?

In a way, I would absolutely love not to put any of my photos on the Internet and stay away from blogging and all that stuff; just be an artist in my own right, but I am incredibly ambitious and in this day and age I do not feel I will ever get my work seen by the right people unless I rape the Internet. I feel that if I hadn't used Flickr to promote my work I would not be where I am today. Without some of the people I have met and who have changed the way I think and work, I would not be one of the owners and photographers of Gang Up magazine and wouldn't have shot most of the published work I have. If I wasn't on MySpace I wouldn't have had my profile promoted on the homepage and getting my work seen all over the world. So for the Internet I am grateful.

With this in mind, in the last year, your artistic profile has been raised massively: how do you think this has affected you?

I don't really know. I still do not feel it has been raised to my satisfaction so I am just going to shoot and shoot and shoot until more people know who I am. That sounds lame, but I want to eventually work for the biggest publications and need a lot more exposure to get there.

What do you like most/least about photography?

I hate people claiming photos to be photography when they just do not count in my mind. I love people who have a unique style and are doing their own thing but keeping everything they do different. I hate seeing the same thing over and over again. For example, if I was Hedi Slimane and had some of the shoot opportunities Hedi does I think I would try and create something a little more original than the last black and white studio portrait, and if I were Rankin and had a shoot with someone like Vivienne Westwood or Kate Moss I would try and set up something elaborate and unbeatable. However I respect these photographers as business men and think that for simple portrait photographers they are pretty fucking good. They just don't take the same approach I would.

Does your photography say anything about you, or speak for you?

I hope so.

In an ideal world, if there was anything you could shoot, regardless of expenses (money, time etc.) what would you choose to photograph?

If only. I have thought of this situation endless amounts of times but I still can't answer it. It would involve all the people I idolise most, and the people I find the most beautiful - sorry to be shallow! It would definitely have a massive set up and would be so busy that it would need to be printed on a very large scale.

What do you hope to do in the future?

Live in a large apartment with a built in studio in the middle of a busy town like London or Brighton, and spend any money I earn on taking better photographs and taking them in countries all over the world. It is a very optimistic hope but it's how I would love to live.

Do you have a favourite photographer? 

David Lachapelle is my all-time favorite photographer. It's a cliché I know, but there is a reason so many people love him. And a reason why so many people dislike him and everything about his work and that is because it is different. It is controversial, original and pushes the boundaries.

I find with my photography that I am always learning from other photographers; with this is mind, do you have any advice for other young photographers as to how to approach the art?

Just do what you want. Don't change anything you do regardless if people like it or not. I have before and it sucks.

Eleni, Approaching Velocity's last interviewee asks: What does taking photos mean to you?

Oh Eleni, why such a tricky one? By the way Eleni is amazing... gotta love her. I have thought about this for ages and don't know the answer. I fucking fucking fucking love taking photographs. I couldn't begin to explain how satisfying I find it when I have done a shoot I am pleased with. And when I haven't shot for a little while... any time longer than a week I start to go a bit mad.

And lastly, what would you like to ask/know about the next photographer interviewee?

Who would you most like to photograph and why?


Approaching Velocity has plans. We're not just looking for photographers anymore, so if you're an artist and want to showcase your work, or want to help contribute, from articles about art to interviews with artists, editing or magazine layouts, get in touch with Approaching Velocity at approachingvelocity(at) 

AV #5 Never get anything stuck in your iMac CD drive. It means weeks of repairs, when you could be publishing hawt interviews instead.

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Words (c) 2009 Louie Banks / Nicholas Blake / Approaching Velocity.
All images in 'Interview #5' (c) 2009 Louie Banks.

Approaching Velocity's editor is Nicholas Blake, who is thankful for extended warranties.

Never negotiate your milk allowance.