We first met Hayden Worsfold at New Zealand Fashion Week, running around backstage, but still friendly enough to stop and say hello. Not long after, and we're now stocking his personal works. Especially recognised for his contrasting black and white photographs, we were intrigued about the man behind the lens so we roped him in for one of our Meet the Maker's interviews. Read on to learn how a tight budget can turn into a signature, why Photography class in school might not have been Hayden's fave and what the modernism movement has to do with his compositions.
Who’s the man behind the lens? Tell us a bit about how you got into photography – did you always know you wanted to be a photographer?
I remember growing up I was interested in taking pictures, always asking to use dad's camera during family outings. I was given my first camera for my birthday, I think I was about 8 or 9 and thought this was the greatest thing for a while. It wasn't until my last year of high school that I started taking photos again, initially taking images on my cell phone and uploading to Instagram during its early days. One of my close friends suggested I look at getting a DSLR and think about taking photography at school as I needed another subject to fill my timetable, I didn't actually pass a single paper during that class...
Who do you look up to: is there any particular photographer/artist/designer/muse that has impacted your photography direction?
Since the beginning, reportage and documentary image making really captivated me. Henri Cartier Breton, Robert Frank, Garry Winograd and many other's work really opened my eyes up to the world around me and got me documenting the people and places in my life. Since starting to shoot fashion, too many artists to name have shaped and continued to inspire the way I make images.
Are you always switched on? As in – do you constantly see photography opportunities, or do you sometimes find yourself lost in the moment and then in hindsight realise you should have captured it?
Of course, there are opportunities all around. I generally have a camera of sorts on me at all times, however, some moments are better to live through than to photograph. Typically if I see a something and my first instinct is to photograph it, I will. I try not to have any regrets. I remember when I first started using film, I would be so conservative and limit myself to one photo per day, or only capture the entire scene. Now I'm not so precious, and won't second guess before making a frame.
Talking about your private work: Are you a perfectionist or a realist? Does it take 400 shots to get the perfect one or do you use photographs as a way to capture this one specific moment that can never be brought back?
I'd say I'm a mixture of both. Sometimes it only takes one or two frames before you know you've got it, other times it may take a few more, I am quite conservative with how I create images though. One of the first books I bought was 'Magnum Contact Sheets', some of the most well-known images ever made are in this book, along with other photos from the same roll, you can really learn how the photographer worked each scene to get to that one iconic image.
Your photography is mostly black and white. Was it a conscious decision to let the subject speak through message, rather than through visual vibrancy?
Black and white was my gateway to shooting film, it is the cheapest way to shoot roll after roll and learn how film works, but also how I like to work. With the absence of colour, there needs to be a strong subject matter to make interesting images that people want to look at, I started looking at shapes and shadows, and really started to understand light and how it works. I have only recently started shooting colour film in the past 6 months or so which is giving me a new outlook on what I do.
You studied architecture and your photography is especially recognised for the clean lines in your work. Where does this interest in angles come from?
While studying architecture I was making images of buildings, details and textures to aid what I was doing in a design studio. My interest in clean design comes from my appreciation for the modernism movement, particularly the Case Study project by Arts and Architecture from the 40's through 60's.
Hopping between New Zealand, Australia and the US you get to see a fair bit of the world – where’s somewhere you’d love to travel to capture the city’s vibe in images? And what three shots would you be looking to get?
My family moved around quite often when I was growing up with my dad's job, living in Australia multiple times, the United States, and New Zealand. I have a list of architecture and cities that I'd like to visit one day. Paris is on that list, has some incredible architecture and rich history, I'd probably look to go there with an open mind and document what I am exposed to. I find heading somewhere with preconceived photos in my head really limits what I can and could create when I'm actually there.
Would you rather: see incredible things but not be allowed to photograph them, or be allowed to take pictures of everything you see but never have your mind blown?
I think the first, seeing incredible things, but not being allowed to photograph them would be my choice. I'd rather experience incredible things and be constantly creatively stimulated, instead of taking photos of anything and everything.