Digital FeaturesFamilia Quantum LeapRob Oades
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Rob Oades


© Rob Oades

Photography Rob Oades @takenbyroboades Collection by Eastwood Danso @eastwooddanso Styling Aiste Suliokaite @aistesuliokaite Hair and Makeup Michela Olivieri @michelahairstylist Models Tom Curtis/Storm Models @tcurtis.11 @stormmodels Paulina Liskova/The HIve Models @paulina_liskova @thehivemodels Not forgetting Barney the horse Camera Leica S2 with Summarit-S 70 f/2.5 ASPH. (CS)

For his new project, photographer Rob Oades juxtaposed urban streetwear with the gentle landscapes of the English countryside. His images emanate a feeling of tranquility, harmony and connection – and convey the artist’s visual aspirations within the field of fashion photography.

The title of your series is ‘Familia Quantum Leap’ – what is the meaning behind it?
The title is borrowed from the designer’s collection. I immediately connected with the collection after finding out about Eastwood Danso through a mutual friend. Familia Quantum Leap is a title representing Eastwood’s evolution from his last collection until now. This was one of my first editorial shoots after taking a very extended break from photography. I had fallen out of love with what I was doing. So coming back to a project that represents personal growth while still acknowledging what came before was something I really liked.

What can you tell us about the shoot?
Any creative photography project is a collaborative process. I need to know and connect with the people I am working with, otherwise it doesn't work. Everyone on this shoot I had worked with before, even down to the models. The shoot was preceded by weeks of prep and keeping my fingers crossed for the British weather to hold out. With this particular project, I knew that the styling was very clean and crisp but still had this streetwear feel. Anyone could have placed this in a built-up urban environment, but I wanted to see it on the fringes of society, just far enough removed to still see small touches of urban life, while softening it with beautiful landscapes.

What was your approach to creating this project?
In everything I do, I try to keep it simple. Overcomplicating things doesn't work for me. I keep the team light so there aren't more people on set than needed. This way, there are fewer distractions. I use equipment I know like the back of my hand. Then I can let the other creatives on set bring their own amazing talent to the project. Everyone has a vision, and they need to see their input in the photos. If something catches my eye while shooting, I don't hold myself to a shot list. Don't limit what you can see.

Within your fashion photographs, you also focus on people, landscapes, scenery, and even animals. What appeals to you about this way of working?
I love being outside. If I can shoot on location, especially outdoors, I'll jump at the chance. I like being immersed in an environment and drawing instant inspiration from my surroundings: the way the light moves through the trees, spotting a location you didn't know was there. The unexpected moment, that's what makes a great photograph. As an artist, you are always searching for inspiration, but you are not going to find it by looking at a screen all day. I also love the challenge of the environment, finding out how to work it. It definitely beats a day in the studio staring at white walls….

How would you describe your photographic style?
I learnt a large part of my trade from photographers that were still using film, and I take that practice forward into my work. I want to capture everything I can ‘in camera’. I hate it when people say things like, “we can fix this in Photoshop later”... No, we fix it now and get what we need on the negative. Because I take that approach, people wonder why I don't use film on every shoot. The answer is, the vibe has to be right. Film has its time and place. As for my style...I suppose it relates to Familia Quantum Leap, in that it’s modern but classic. I like to keep it familiar and emotive, so people can still relate.

Instead of the high-flash aesthetics usually associated with fashion photography, your images offer soft and harmonious perspectives with a ‘countryside’ feel…  
I think when it comes to ‘fashion photography’, people get caught up in the magazines with their flashy, brightly lit images, as well as the actual brand. There's got to be something more beautiful than that. I hate being punched in the face by advertising whilst trying to find some beauty in it. You used the term ‘harmonious’, and that's a beautiful compliment for my work. This answers the question about my style much better than I managed to – I want to change my answer to ‘harmonious’!  I don't pre-plan shots, which is intentional. So that, in itself, is the plan and intention, I suppose. I keep everything I can in-camera, all the details. I can only assume that the soft and harmonious feel of the images is rooted in the relationships that I have, and continue to build, with my subjects.

What camera did you use to shoot this series, and how did you find the experience?
Before I talk about how much I love my camera, I want everyone to know that I'm not sponsored or have been gifted any free equipment… I bought my camera because it was the perfect tool for me. I love my Leica S2, it embodies everything I value most: aesthetics, simplicity and practicality. Many of today’s digital cameras look more like fighter jets than cameras. All you really need is shutter speed, aperture, ISO and release. Anything more complicated than that becomes a distraction that interferes with the creative process. It should feel part of you. If there's one thing that annoys you about a camera, it's not your camera. I use 35, 70 and 120 mm prime lenses. I like primes as the quality is incredible, and I like moving around. I’m never a lazy photographer.

What are your main sources of inspiration?
I keep sketchbooks, which is something I've done all my life. I also collect photography books from all different genres – I prefer turning the pages of a book to scrolling through the internet, because it sinks in more if I can touch it. I truly believe that fashion and photography go round in circles, and everything just repeats itself – so knowing the history helps you anticipate what's around the corner.