I came across Lee Kirby’s work while searching for photographers using a specific technique with light projection, as I was thinking of using such a technique in some personal work or maybe later in an assignment. Kirby is a London photographer who specialises in portraiture and music photography. As I scrolled through his series of work, a particular oevre really resonated with me. It was his project Acid Priest which features eccentric punk art collector Lee Trosclair.
Kirby’s project developed very much in a similar fashion as Julian Germain’s For Every Minute You are Angry, You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness. It started off as a chance encounter with Kirby photographing “the best-dressed hobo you’ve ever seen” (Traynor).
The series on Trosclair is all about his identity. His expressions range from glaring, sometimes slightly hostile to passive and deadpan to deeply reflective leaving the viewer none the wiser as to his real persona. In a similar fashion his poses seem to be slightly defiant – a rather ‘make of me what you like attitude’ which definitely seems to fit when we look at the clothes he wears.
Trosclair is an avid collector of Vivienne Westwood clothing. Westwood tends to design eccentric, androgynous collections of clothing. It is not every man’s cup of tea to attire themselves in this type of clothing but Trosclair is extremely comfortable in these designs and definitely manages to carry it off. His clothing is very indicative of his personality. I would hazard to guess that he is extremely confident within himself, loud and opinionated, yet still easy to get along with and, of course, a very interesting person.
Trosclair recently purchased an old hotel in Great Yarmouth, which he has converted into a community art space, called The Social. He has an extremely interesting backstory connected to this which is too long for this post, but can be read in the Cian Traynor interview for Huck Magazine in the link below.
I was particularly interested to see the interchange of location photos and studio photos. There is a very directed balance to the series that helps convey Trosclair’s identity. The studio backgrounds used are in keeping with his outrageous dress. Kirby has used bright purple, teal blue and psychedelic backgrounds to pose Trosclair in front of which help to accentuate his personality. The portraits taken in Trosclair’s studio are all filled with brightly coloured art work and vintage furniture – all begging for their stories to be told. The portraits taken on location seem quieter and more reflective in mood. Trosclair standing in the garden outside his front door; out in an open field of wild grass with the open sky behind him; up a tree in a park; sitting contemplatively on the kerb. Even the image of him standing outside The Social with its bright blue brickwork and painted clouds and bubbles seems contemplative to me.
The careful choice of locations and backgrounds as well as all the elements in each image in this series contribute to the success in conveying titbits of Trosclair’s identity and persona to the viewer. The more I look, the more fascinated I become and the more I want to learn about this interesting character.
I would like to thank Lee Kirby for allowing me to use his image in my blog.
Yesterday I received a response from Lee Kirby to my write up. Very pleased it had a positive response.
Kirby, Lee (n.d.) Acid Priest Lee Kirby Photography. Available at: http://www.leekirbyphotography.com/acidpriest/ [Accessed 31 October, 2016]
Kirby, Lee (n.d.) Expensive Curtains [online]. Available at: http://www.leekirbyphotography.com/acidpriest/8ricjn6yr75wj58dvn531rw26t8oql [Accessed 31 October, 2016]
Westwood, Vivienne MAN SS17 [online] Available at: http://www.viviennewestwood.com/en-gb/collections/man/spring-summer [Accessed 1 November, 2016]
Bate, D. (2009) Photography: The Key Concepts. London: Bloomsbury Academic