1 Grit magazine
Photos by Niclas
3 In Essence magazine / issue 01
Interview by Emily Rae Archer
4 Denude magazine issue 01
Interview by Laurie Clémence, Founder & Editor in Chief of Denude.
5 Curiosity magazine / issue 01
Congratulations on your second issue of TFM. Our readers might not know but you had a launch party at Claire de Rouen’s a couple of weeks ago. Claire’s bookshop has been one of our all time favourite book stores in London and Claire obviously is a true legend. Could you tell us what impact Claire’s legacy has on you as a young editor-in-chief?
Thank you! Yes it is one of my all time favourite book stores too!
Unfortunately I never had the pleasure of meeting Claire as she passed away before I got into photography, Lucy is doing a great job to preserve Claire's legacy, continuing a commitment to stocking rare, and high quality photography books. It is a real privilege to be stocked in the store!
Let’s discuss more about your magazine Terra Firma. Could you tell us the story behind the name?
When I was younger I always remember my mum being afraid of flying and saying "ah gosh, I can't wait to be back on terra firma". I certainly have a fondness for the word as it is connected with my memories of flying to Australia. Plus it has an exotic feel to it which hopefully makes it stand out a bit. I came up with it quite instinctively without too much thought, which I think is probably the best way otherwise you can really overthink.
If you had to describe the Terra Firma reader with 5 words, what would the words?
Enthusiastic, kind, curious, social, collaborative.
I’ve been told your favourite colour is red (Terra Firma’s red font, red lipstick). Which other red objects or things do you like?
I have recently just become the delighted owner of a beautiful red COS dress, which is my new favourite item in my wardrobe. I also really love the deep red of Ayres Rock and Australian soil.
What was the first photography/design magazine you ever bought?
It was IMA magazine, I bought it in Paris, Collete 2 years ago. I bought it because it had a story about Alec Soth & Steidl and (what I thought at the time was revolutionary) a mini booklet insert inside!
Since then my collection has grown enormously!
There are so many zines these days. Why do you think making a zine is so popular at the moment?
I think because it has become a lot more accessible and it is a way to cheaply express yourself and share you ideas.
In photography, an image works best when the formal aspects such as light, colour and composition, as well as the informal aspects like a small gesture or look come together.
In the work of young photographer Sophie Willison, the small details present in her photographs invite us to focus on the exchange between photographer and the subject and further, the relationship between viewer and viewed. I enjoy Sophie’s work because it’s simple.
What is your favorite filmstock? I think this question is repeated, is it not meant to be 'What camera do you use?'
I mainly use a canon sureshot, it's easy to carry around and great for my spontaneous nature as a photographer. The on camera flash and auto focus allows me to move freely and quickly when making pictures. I am still a student I am thinking of shooting more medium format over the next few months, whilst I still have access to the cameras...! I am technically not a student anymore, so maybe can we remove this?
What is your favorite filmstock?
I use film from poundland, it means I can shoot much more and not worry about the money. It stands up quite well against other films and is easy really easy to get hold of. I bought out three poundlands the other day, in fear they would go out of stock!
For the photographs submitted, why are they your favourite?
I think they're my favourite because they are my first serious body of work. As well as that, the people featured in the images are my close friends so it was quite nice to work with them and capture them in that particular moment.
What was your last project?
My last photography project, before the magazine, was about documenting my friends. « The Young Ones » I wanted to do a mixture of portraiture, fashion and documentary so combined all genres. I chose people who had a particularly interesting way about them, that attracted me to photographing. I spent one evening or afternoon with them, talking and exploring whilst making pictures.
In your latest project you spoke translide, is that slide film and why you use it?
Translide, yes that is slide film, positive film, however you would like to call it! I liked the idea of projecting straight from my imagery, which you can't do with negative or digital, it has a nice feeling to it, nothing has been done to the negative so it is the rawest way of viewing them.
Where was the last place your work was shown?
We had the option to show in a gallery, but decided to show in a pub, down a street full of galleries, it was one of the first places Wolfgang Tillmans showed his work. I had my images up in the toilet! So it was interesting to curate in a space that wasn't just four white walls!
And as is the case with most creative people now, one not only creates but is involved in other creative platforms or endeavours, ex. the artist/curator. You are about to launch the second issue of Terra-Firma Magazine.
Yes that's right, I am planning on having a joint launch party with a friend (Laurie, denude magazine) where creatives and contributors who have been involved involved in the magazines will come together and celebrate printed matter!
Could you expand on how Terra-Firma Magazine came about?
Well I was very interested in independent publishing and the format of displaying work in a magazine. I then had an internship at VERY magazine which allowed me to get a first hand experience working alongside Editor in Chief Uscha Pohl, who inspired me to make my own!
1. Who would be your ideal model to photograph?
This is a tough question to answer as I rarely photograph models, I prefer casting people in the street or using friends. I suppose Chloe Sevigny would be quite interesting to work with but she's everywhere already..!
I do have a bit of a muse….His name is Kirubele. I featured him in issue 01 of my magazine and he shot for it too! We did a really spontaneous shoot in his doorway. I called him up one evening and said “hey, are you home? Can i come over and take some pictures of you just standing outside your house, you just have to stand there, do nothing and i’ll take 36 exposures of you whilst we chat. yeah? cool, see you in 20.”
2. Which celebrity would you most like to have dinner with?
I don’t really like celebrities either…I’m sorry! I don’t really follow them or idolise anyone, I never have so I guess I never really will. I did kinda like Kylie Minogue’s music when I was 12, but I’ve moved on since then!
Maybe someone who can cook me really delicious food? So some sort of chef, maybe French, so I can stay on his sofa and get the train into Paris in the morning, pop to Palais de Tokyo, Collette….
3. What was your favourite toy as a child?
Well I sort of grew up in Australia, from ages 3-8, so I have a lot of memories of swimming pools and water bombs, oh and trampolines! I remember having a lot of barbies and plastic babies, most of which didn't float….
4. Do you have a favourite book?
I have one at the moment. I bought it to read for my essay, not expecting it to be such a tantalising read. “Art, fashion & work for hire” Thomas Demand, Peter Saville, Hedi Slimane, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Cristina Bechtler in Conversation: Thomas Demand, ... Art and Architecture in Discussion(closed))
5. Does this book hold any memories?
(don't think I need to answer this one)
Terra Firma Magazine discusses social media recruiting and being in control of it all. “I like being the art director of everything” says Sophie Willison.
That is perhaps the key to understanding Willison as a creative and as a person. At the age of twenty, she is wise beyond her years and is passionately inquisitive and curious. It is a trait that is extended into her work with Terra Firma Magazine, which is dedicated to the collaboration of photography and design.
That voracious curiosity has led her to bring together a collection of artists, photographers and designers and put them all into one publication. It’s a dreary, grey day in January when I meet Willison. She has a very soft Australian accent which is barely recognisable unless you listen to her intently.
Willison is primarily a photographer, but after assisting Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Very Magazine, Uscha Pohl she foresaw her love for curation and editing. The first issue is a collection of earthy film photographs and collaborative features. Remarkably, Willison scouted all contributors for issue one on social media (successfully so, I must add) through the use of the hashtag, which she says “is great because you can find your right audience, who ultimately like what you are making.”
Amongst the wide variety of contributors is Benjamin Allworthy, a sixteen year old photographer who writes alongside his photographs of trees and sculptures, “Nature is beautiful and we should take care of it.” Willison tells me that “he has a nice outlook on life.”
The brilliance of Terra Firma lies in its range of features. Roy Clarke Bliss is Willison’s fifty five year old cousin, an architect who lives in Byker Wall in Newcastle. Willison tells me Clarke bliss has been drinking since the age of nine, “he has pickled his liver and is on deaths door.” As seen in issue one, his photographic work is beautifully stark and brutalist, alongside his profile are the words, “One eyed architect, must be sober for 6 months in order to be put on the organ donor list. Has been to rehab, prison (never his fault), and now attends weekly AA meetings.”
Terra Firma is a collection of talent, honesty and hand picked brilliance. It is a firm reflection of youth talent and the power of social media. Willison says, “Issue two is about the theme of originality, how do we find that in a world of increasing speed?” With her determination, perhaps Willison will be the one to answer that question, but until then Terra Firma will continue to reflect those who Willison finds inspiring, original and exciting. Issue 2 of Terra Firma is out now.