AN INTERVIEW WITH....

Dundonians love other Dundonians doing well. It's a thing. That's why no one under forty in this town gives a crap about GMTV but we all love Lorraine Kelly (United fans are probably a bit biased in that respect). When I'm wearing KerrieALDO, and someone asks about it, it feels great to say who made it: this city doesn't forget its sons and daughters, even if they do relocate to Leeds, and it gets pretty excited when they come home.

The latest collection of coats and jackets by KerrieALDO dropped on the 10th of October, and it really does look that good in real life but today we're talking about the glorious aesthetic of the AW lookbook (and other good stuff).  I'm given some time with the wizard behind the shoot, another Dundonian gal, Kathryn Rattray, to quiz her on her inspirations and experiences surrounding photography.

I meet Kathryn at home so we can chat over tea and biscuits without interruption, which is just as well, as for two strangers we have a million and one mutual friends, so doing this in our local would have been as useless as a chocolate teapot. My host has broken her wrist, an occupational hazard for a sometimes wedding photographer that loves drinking and dancing as much as everyone else at the ceremony.  In her defence, it was her best friend's wedding...

Once we get the actually-not-at-all-awkward introduction out the way, and are finished gossiping Kathryn warns me that she's on some pretty intensive pain relief, causing her to make some entertaining online creative input for one of her various outlets, Twisted Flax so I promise to keep it tame...

Let's go back to the start: how did you become involved in photography?

I've always taken photographs! Like most parents, when my first child came along I wanted to document everything, and when my camera fell apart, I bought my first Nikon SLR. From there, I became involved with Ross Fraser McLean, under the guise of Blue Sky Photography and began building a portfolio and exhibiting my work. Initially I was running round like a whirlwind devil, going from project to project - that's where Twisted Flax (Kathryn's original photography moniker) was borne from... I felt like I needed to have more separation within my work and projects. Alongside 'Kathryn Rattray Photography', I am at the early stages of building a brand that will be more closely associated with wedding photography and marketing (FYI Kathryn is a marketing graduate).

Was this your first fashion shoot?

No, I've had a lot commissions from DJCAD (Duncan & Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee); this year was my third year of shooting final year portfolios; I've previously worked with some really talented girls like Kate Harvey, who specializes in wearable 'urban inspired' prints, and Jolene Guthrie, an award winning knitwear designer.... I really enjoy the portfolio work I do with DJCAD - when I show up, the designers are usually exhausted and a bit demented, so it's great to see them buzzing again when they're looking on their final pieces in a professional light. So much work has gone into that process along the way so the portfolio is always a proud moment for them.


JAG Knitwear by Jolene Guthrie - Lookbook photography by Kathryn Rattray

So your first shoot with Kerrie took place in The Fabric Mill Halley Stevenson's, what was that like?


Very loud. It was a really cool environment though, an amazing place to shoot. We had the noise of the machinery around us, hundreds of tonnes of fabric.  There's a really industrial and authentic feel to the place... it's a very bright space, very open and so the natural light was perfect to work with.

KerrieALDO AW Lookbook Shoot at Halley Stevensons 2017 - photography by Kathryn Rattray

Had you visited the The Fabric Mill previously?

I hadn't been there before, I tend not to research the location as my style of shooting is very impulsive...the way I see it is that if I went back to the same place twenty times, the end result would be different regardless. I work very quickly, taking lots of photographs ... I probably took about five hundreds photographs that day.

Was the process on the day for Kerrie's shoot fairly quick?

Oh yeah. I think that was one of the best things about the day, it was very free flowing, particularly after the first hour. We started shooting at 10.30am and by 4.30pm, Kerrie and I were picking our favourite shots for the look book, and that was with a lunch break in between! Even the look book came together really quickly.

I heard about lunch, provided by Erin's Mum at The Shack ‘Street Food’!

Haha yes, keeping it in the family!

You knew Kerrie and the models, Erin and Dylan. Did that help?

I think so, it meant that everyone felt relaxed around me. I've known Erin since she was tiny and Dylan for years too; it's far easier when the models are going in with a sense of trust and again I think that's what made the shoot so successful.  There was no need for rehearsals.

If you could pick a favourite photo from the day, what would it be?

Oh that's difficult. I love this photo of Erin , especially the outfit - the leopard print jacket is probably my favourite from the collection, along with the tote! And I love this shot of Dylan.

Erin Young modelling for the KerrieALDO AW Lookbook Shoot at Halley Stevensons, 2017 - photography by Kathryn Rattray
Dylan Fitzsimmons modelling for the KerrieALDO AW Lookbook Shoot at Halley Stevensons 2017 - photography by Kathryn Rattray

You have shot a lot of portraits, it seems like that has lent itself to capturing the up close details?

Yeah I think so. The clothes are so beautifully made; I've been on previous fashion shoots where we've been working with fabric samples and sample sizes so I've have had to make sure that I was working angles to avoid any signs of that but Kerrie's pieces were in perfect condition, there was no stitch out of place and I wanted to capture that standard of craftsmanship.


Dylan Fitzsimmons modelling for the KerrieALDO AW Lookbook Shoot at Halley Stevensons 2017 - photography by Kathryn Rattray


Who influences your work?

Well obviously Ross McLean has been very influential, given where I started; my favourite photographer is Guy Bourdin. I would say though, that some of my friends have been a massive inspiration to me over the years.  Particularly Holly (Scanlan) who always has this really powerful and empowering attitude that's like "just do it"; she's someone that isn't scared to try new styles and push creative boundaries.  Holly's energy is really contagious, she instills a lot of confidence in others; I think I've produced some of my best work when I've taken a gamble.

Charles Jourdan, Spring 1979 - by Guy Bourdin Photograph: ©The Guy Bourdin Estate/Courtesy A+C/Guy Bourdin Image from https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2015/mar/05/surreal-world-guy-bourdin

There's a pretty supportive sisterhood in Dundee, would you say?

Definitely, it's a sort of echo of the traditional Dundonian set up where unlike other industrial cities, women were seen as 'running the town'. There are lots of very impressive women making a name for themselves both within and outwith the city; there's Beth Bates (Director of the DCA); there's Hayley Scanlan (twice Scottish Designer of the Year); there's Gillian Easson (co-founder of creative Dundee and former graduate of DJCAD); I'm not taking anything away from the guys but we're lucky to have a design and arts scene that is propped up by lots of talented women.

Lastly, what or where is the weirdest location you have used?

I'd say a tannery in Morrocco; these raw hides were laid out everywhere, stinking carcasses surrounded me. The smell was overwhelming, I can still really vividly picture a donkey, indoors, staring at me with these huge haunting eyes... so sad!

Morocco tannery - photography by Kathryn Rattray

Well I wasn't expecting that but then Kathryn has been full of surprises! If you're here reading this then I'm sure you won't have missed the latest KerrieALDO lookbook but on the off chance you've missed it you can see it online here. I’d also highly recommend looking up some more of Kathryn's work, www.facebook.com/kathrynrattrayphotography is a good place to start.

Fay.


Interview conducted by Fay Costello in conversation with Kathryn Rattray.