Leica has teamed up with rag & bone to collaborate on a limited edition M Monochrom camera. In celebration of the project, rag & bone’s CEO Marcus Wainwright got together with the German manufacturer to discuss his own photography.
Wainwright thus showed a series of black and white photographs, all while detailing how photography influences his work, the beauty of monochrome images, and redesigning something he already considered to be perfect.
On how he first got into photography:
“My dad took photographs of our entire lives. He was a keen amateur photographer and he was just documenting our lives. In those days everyone had photo albums so his and our lives were in a photo album. The family has everything documented and it’s something I just grew up being aware of: The power of photography to some extent. I had a certain amount of anxiety about the amount of times he’d embarrass us by taking photos in different situations.
I didn’t buy a camera myself until my early twenties. I was living in London, took a few pictures and things grew from there. Things changed when I moved to New York and picked up a second hand Leica M6. I fell in love with the Leica brand and aesthetic.
I was mainly shooting street photography but I don’t really have the confidence of taking pictures on the street. I was living in Williamsburg in 2001, when I first came to New York, and I remember there was this guy taking a picture of an old chap sitting out on his stoop in the Summer. He just went crazy. This guy was 90-something and he chased him down the street, shouting “Give me the camera!”. That’s why I tend to take pictures of abstract things now. I’m scared of being chased down the street.”
On his interest of black and white photography:
“Black and white photography just resonates with me more. There’s a purity to black and white, as well as a dreaminess. It’s not what the eye sees. The tonality of the different grays resonates with me.”
On how photography and his work with rag & bone coincide:
“My brain works in a particular way. In terms of clothing, I get very stressed by frilly paraphernalia that isn’t necessary and I’m obsessed with function. It’s not a reductionist thing all the time but it’s about reducing something to its purest form to create a perfect garment. When I look at something and it doesn’t fit and the details aren’t right or the balance of the pocket isn’t right, all of those things stress me out. When you have a perfect image there is no source of stress within that image. When it works, you look at it and it’s pleasing. It makes you feel safe, or maybe that’s not quite what I mean. The feeling it evokes needs to be of perfect balance, rather than the opposite, which is chaos. My brain tries to work towards a pure form. It’s like a Savile Row suit. It’s perfect and there’s a complete absence of chaos.”
His advice to fellow photographers:
“It’s so important to breath and take your time. It’s something that I don’t do enough, and my oldest son is the same, we’re often in a rush. It’s a bit like a biathlete at the Olympics, skiing for so long and then having to lie down and shoot the target. My son is always in a rush. We were on safari and he was burning through film shooting pictures of this lion. I just tried to get him to slow down and breathe.”
Now, here are all the winners from this year’s National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition.