Vladimir Film Festival

Henry Kings­ford interview

18 / 8 / 2016 / Interview

We’re slowly approach­ing the new edi­tion of Vladi­mir Film Fest­iv­al and with that in mind we decided to do a small recap of the 2015 VFF. We con­tac­ted Henry Kings­ford, a Lon­don-based pho­to­graph­er and Grey Skate­board Magazine founder, last years exhib­it­or and guest, but mostly our friend who is vis­it­ing us again this year. In a brief inter­view we dis­cuss his work at Grey, his pho­to­graphy and of course, Vladimir.

With this occa­sion we are tak­ing the oppor­tun­ity to thank Henry one more time for all the help last year on the exhib­i­tion “5 years in print” and all the pro­mo­tion that he provided for the fest­iv­al. Thanks man! Look­ing for­ward to see­ing you again at the VFF2016.

Henry Kings­ford — Wall­ride Nol­lie, Puerto Escon­dido (Mex­ico) / Photo Sarah Graley

Inter­view by Oleg Morović

Q: So, last time you were here i asked you about the mag, the mak­ing of and the pro­cess. I was sur­prised to find out that is not really a whole floor of people work­ing on it ’cause that’s the feel­ing you get when you hold the mag in your hands. Can you tell us how Grey star­ted, how it grew, who are the people behind it, and what is the pro­cess of cre­at­ing an issue from start to finish?

A: I star­ted Grey in 2010. One of the two big UK magazines, Doc­u­ment, had gone out of print, so it seemed like there was space for a new magazine. Every pho­to­graph­er was try­ing to get stuff in Side­walk, and it was get­ting dif­fi­cult to get stuff used. The main inspir­a­tion for our first format, which was pock­et-sized and covered Lon­don exclus­ively, was Anzei­ge­Ber­lin, a pock­et-sized magazine made by Adam Sello cov­er­ing the Ber­lin scene. I found Anzei­ge­Ber­lin through Staple, anoth­er pock­et-sized magazine from Perth, Aus­tralia. After Grey came A Pro­pos from Par­is, then more, like Gone from Lyon. There was a bit of a scene around these pock­et-sized city ‘zines for a while, around 2010/11. We even did a col­lab ‘zine with Anzei­ge­ber­lin and A Propos, sup­por­ted by Carhartt.

Grey has grown pretty stead­ily since 2010, in size and dis­tri­bu­tion, but also repu­ta­tion I guess, and money I can pull in from ads. Every now and again I decide to change the format, and usu­ally increase the print run each time. We’re cur­rently at 10,000 dis­tri­bu­tion and our format is per­fect bound, slightly lar­ger than A5.

I do a lot of stuff at Grey oth­er than being the edit­or and shoot­ing pho­tos, things like ad sales, social media and inter­views. I have an art dir­ect­or, Chris Pear­son, who takes care of how everything looks, and I work with two pho­to­graph­ers: Lex Kembery and Joel Peck. Marke New­ton does draw­ings for us too, most issues. But I don’t have an office – I do most office stuff at home, and no full-time people work­ing on the magazine except me.

Grey comes out every three months. I usu­ally have con­tent for the fol­low­ing issue planned while work­ing on the cur­rent one. I pick people I like to go in each issue. I shoot pho­tos for the new issues for the first two months then the final month is usu­ally taken up with retouch­ing, inter­views, edit­ing, chas­ing ads, proof-read­ing and actu­ally over­see­ing printing.

5 years in print: Grey exhib­i­tion on VFF 2015 / Photo Henry Kingsford

Q: 5 years in print — i think we can all agree that the exhib­i­tion of Grey skate­board Magazine in VFF 2015 was a real suc­cess. The pages of the mag scattered on a wooden install­a­tion with an iPad embed­ded, show­ing pho­tos from the pre­vi­ous night’s event on the Grey web­site. There was a lot of hard work and time inves­ted in just this piece of the fest­iv­al but that can­not be com­pared to the work you put in 5 years behind the mag. You men­tioned that you are work­ing on a pub­lic­a­tion of the 5 year of Grey, how is that going, can we look for­ward to this some­time soon? maybe present it on VFF2017? 5 years is a long time for an inde­pend­ent mag to run, spe­cially when it’s free. How are you mak­ing it hap­pen, and tell us why you think is import­ant for a magazine like Grey to exist, and to be prin­ted and not just online?

A: We actu­ally just passed six years this May. I decided to put the book on hold because I think it’s more import­ant to look for­ward and con­cen­trate on what is hap­pen­ing now and how best to cov­er that, how to make the magazine and the web­site bet­ter. In terms of how we are mak­ing it hap­pen, luck­ily we have the sup­port of lots of advert­isers, who still value prin­ted skate­board media.

I think it’s really import­ant that prin­ted skate­board magazines still exist. Ins­tagram is well-suited to skate­board­ing, espe­cially now with video, but with Ins­tagram, you’re still look­ing at skate pho­tos so small and in a digit­al format. With a print magazine, we make all these decisions about paper stock, and print pro­cesses and how we pre­pare the images so they look a cer­tain way. You don’t get that with digit­al. Also, and this sounds obvi­ous, but you can see them big­ger in print. I think Sam Ash­ley men­tioned this, that a lot of pho­tos we shoot don’t work on Ins­tagram, shots where the skater is small in frame, for example.

With print, you get to lay out the pho­tos in rela­tion to the spread and the text, and also in rela­tion to oth­er images, which is really import­ant. All this is lost on Instagram.

Charlie Young — Back­side Noseblunt Slide, Ber­lin 2014 / Photo Henry Kingsford

Q: Your pho­tos are exep­tion­al, we are all very fond of your style and teh­niques. The moment we saw the works you sent for the exhib­i­tion we knew it was going to be great, and it really was. Nikola was all hyped when he got the mail, call­ing me at work, like: “Man you got to see this! You are going to love it!” And i did. So did every­body else of course. So, the ques­tion is: what came first: the love for skate­board­ing or pho­to­graphy? Or can you even exclude one of them as a great­er pas­sion above the oth­er? How did it all start for you?

A: Def­in­itely skate­board­ing first. I got into pho­to­graphy quite late on. I’ve had pretty bad prob­lems with lig­a­ments in both ankles, so did­n’t skate much for the first five years of shoot­ing skat­ing. More recently, my friend per­suaded me to try some new ankle sup­ports, which worked, and I got fully back into skat­ing myself. Now we skate three or four times a week and go on skate trips a few times a year. I love both, but maybe skat­ing is more import­ant to me than pho­to­graphy at the moment.

I got into pho­to­graphy on a round-the-world gap year trip to places like India and Viet­nam. When I got to LA, I met Mike O’Meally, who looked through my pho­tos and said I had a good eye. He was prob­ably just being polite, but that was enough for me to study when I got back to the UK.

Rory Mil­anes — Ollie, Lon­don 2012 / Photo Henry Kingsford

Q: Who are some of the pho­to­graph­ers that you feel are of qual­ity, names with grow­ing poten­tial or even fully-developed artists that you would sug­est to us for con­sid­er­a­tion for the VFF program?

A: Joel Peck, Rich West and Rafal Wojnowski are amaz­ing pho­to­graph­ers. I work with Joel reg­u­larly now and would like to work more with Rich and Rafal. In terms of more estab­lished pho­to­graph­ers, Mar­cel Veld­man, Nils Svens­son, Sam Ash­ley, Fred Mortagne and Lex Kembery are my favour­ites. I’m biased towards Lex, because he shoots a lot for Grey and he’s a really good friend. His por­trait work is incred­ible and his skate stuff has developed in a really inter­est­ing way recently – he takes no flashes, and works only with ambi­ent light, even if it’s dark, pro­du­cing some really inter­est­ing work. Alex Pires too, but he exib­ited last year already.

Prints for the exhib­i­tion of VFF 2015 / Photo Henry Kingsford

Q: Vladi­mir film fest­iv­al – what is your take on it? Last year was your first time vis­it­ing the fest­iv­al. What was your exper­i­ence of the whole thing: the pro­gram, people and places, visu­als and trail­ers, vibe? All the up sides but the down sides too. There’s always space for improvement.

A: I was blown away. It was such an amaz­ing exper­i­ence. Oleg is some sort of geni­us, mak­ing bet­ter prints him­self than I could get made in Lon­don, build­ing frames for everything, mak­ing our amaz­ing install­a­tion with old pal­lets, then screen-print­ing all the posters and book­lets by hand. Nikola too: such good taste in pick­ing films to show and a great host. Pula and expe­cially Fažana are really beau­ti­ful places and great set­tings for the fest­iv­al. The loc­al skate scene is really strong, and every­one is very friendly and very happy to help with any­thing. The vis­it to the forts in the forest near Fažana was a big high­light – hope­fully we’ll go back this year. The brand­ing of the fest­iv­al was per­fect – every­one wanted to take posters home. The only neg­at­ive thing was that the DIY park in Fažana has gone. It looked so incred­ible from foot­age and it was sad to see the land not being used for any­thing else.