Return to Oz
by Nisha Marie Clutton
A fashion editorial representing the current recession using ‘hand me downs’ and clothing bought from charity shops, Return to Oz connotes the idea that fashion does not have to be expensive and designer to look stylish. With the state of the current economic climate, Nisha’s series questions why we as consumers are willing to pay vast amounts of money for what we wear, and campaigns for recycling fashion.
What was your inspiration for this project? I spent months researching for this project. I had an A3 research folder packed with ideas and annotated photographs. I drew a lot of my ideas from Oz magazine, which was in circulation during the recession of the late 1960s. I researched into how people lived at that time, particularly how they dressed. I looked at a lot of work by Woodstock photographers Barry Zlevine and Elliot Landy. Woodstock festival provided some absolve for people at that time, and I wanted my photographs to have the same atmosphere. I took a lot of the ideas for the clothes from the Woodstock photographs too. I was also inspired by the photographer’s of Vice magazine, a modern day take on Oz. I also had support from two of the Vice photographer’s I was researching. Harley Weir and Ben Raynor, who are both shoot fashion editorials, offered me advice with my own photo shoots. Having help from professional photographers gave me the chance to experiment and push my photographic abilities. How did you go about styling the shoots? I started by approaching local charity stores and asking them to reserve any 60s, boho, or hippy style clothing, and searched for anything similar to the outfits I’d seen in the Woodstock festival photographs. Scouring through the shops for something suitable was hard work, but I think it paid off, and helping out charities is always good. All the models chosen for the shoot had been asked to dig out anything clothes that had been handed down to them that worked with the 60s style. They all did really great, recycling fashion is what the project is all about, and they brought some really appropriate pieces to the shoots.
What kind of problems did you face when planning the shoots? The biggest problem I had was gaining access to the locations we shot in. They were all private gardens or parks, so I had to get permission from the land owners. We had arrange to shoot with one of the models in a meadow, where a farmer let his cattle graze. There was a mix with the dates, and we ended up going down there to shoot whilst the cows were out to pasture. It was a bit of a nightmare. Nothing catastrophic happened though which I’m thankful for. Tell us abit about your photographic background. I’ve always loved art. I was never good at drawing or painting, and whilst I was in school I discovered I could express my artistic side with photography. After studying photography at GCSE level, I realised I wanted to work in the industry. I went on to gain a BTEC National Diploma. I’m currently studying for a BA Honours degree. I love experimenting with photography, especially with film. I worked in a film development lab for two years and I learnt all the different ways you can manipulate it. I’ve had a lot of experience in the fashion photography industry too. I love the idea of making beautiful images with beautiful people and clothes.
What was your favourite thing about shooting the project? The message behind Return to OZ is really important to me. I think it’s important do our bit to save the planet, and I think consumers should be encourage to spend their money on more important things. Fashion doesn’t have to cost a fortune! My favourite shoot was with model’s Lauren and Emily. The weather was gorgeous, and we shot in a stream near Northwich. They’re my favourite shots from the series, we had such a fun day, the girls gave me exactly what I needed for the set. Both of the dresses from that How did you get the Vice photographers involved? shoot were from Barnardos charity shop., they were I had been in contact with Harley Weir for a while. amazing finds. She develops and prints all of her own colour film and as experimenting with film is something I take a keen interest in, I am constantly emailing her The Return to Oz exhibtion will be held at London about her latest shoots. I talked to her about my Road Galleries July 1st-21st plans for Return to Oz. She was really keen to get involved, give me advice, and evaluate my photographs for me. She also got Ben Rayner, who also shoots for Vice magazine, to analyse my images and give me feedback. It was so helpful speaking to industry standard photographers, advising me on how to develop my photographs to reach the quality of their own work.