fabric collective

On Campus, Arts & Culture, Featured

30th November 2022

Live at the Stanley with Fabric Collective Founder Oscar H | Interview

Live at the Stanley was an eclectic mix of media forms and brought live performances and incredible artwork together for an indulgent showcase hosted by Liverpool Guild Student Media.

Following my interview with Hazel Dormouse, I spoke to the founder of Fabric Collective, photographer Oscar H. A 21-year-old amateur film photographer, Oscar documents the fabric of places, stitching together its people, areas, subcultures and infrastructures.

How are you doing today?

I’m good, yeah, I’m enjoying the night – it’s good to see a good turnout and to see people enjoying all aspects of the show, the photography, the music – it’s nice to see everything kind of incorporated together. Yeah, it’s cool.

How did you get into photography? What sparked your interest?

I got into it through film photography because that’s what I’m doing. My friend gave me a vintage film camera and from there I’ve kinda loved the feel of film photography and the look it has in some of the photos. Since coming to Liverpool it really sparked my interest in getting out there and documenting Liverpool. Then gradually, it built up into exhibitions and events. So yeah, it all started with finding that first camera and getting to grips with it but also getting to grips with places and exploring. It allowed me to meet so many people in Liverpool and I made all of these connections and then eventually formed the collective and made friends through the exhibitions.

What made you want to create a collective and join people together?

The collective is called Fabric Collective. It’s based on this whole metaphor for fabric; how different aspects of a place are kind of knitted together and they make up this kind of fabric. For example, Liverpool is knitted together through its areas, its people, its sub-cultures and its infrastructure. Like knitting together with other photographers and bringing different perspectives and different ideas together. That made me really enthusiastic about doing exhibitions with lots of different people because I wanted to have a theme for an exhibition but present different perspectives on it because people have different takes on things and it’s always interesting to see how people perceive things.

Do you have criteria for choosing a perfect shot?

It really depends on what I’m shooting, to be honest. Over time, you develop a gut feeling, so you know that you’ve got a good shot. I do a lot of urban photography and photographs of people. For me, it’s always important that the composition is up there, that’s a very important aspect, it makes it presentable and eye-catching. With film photography, you can’t see the photo when you take it, you have to develop it after. So you have to think on the spot. Sometimes, you might take a risk taking a photo because you can’t see, you can’t predict, you just have to do it in the moment. It all depends on what you’re shooting, so on Tuesday I went and took pictures of Liverpool fans at the stadium because I’m doing a project on LFC.

So, no Everton fans?

No, I wouldn’t go there! There was a guy at the stadium, holding a flare when the players’ bus was coming through to the stadium and I wasn’t sure at first if I’d capture it, just because of the crowds around me but I was like just take the photo and I’m glad I did. I guess you have to think instinctively sometimes, on the spot and you learn that as you go. You regret not taking certain photos and you take some photos and they don’t turn out as well as you thought they might’ve done. That’s all part of the process really.

Have you ever felt disappointed by a photograph?

Definitely! Not just because you can’t see the photo when it’s taken but also because sometimes, I feel like I’ve wasted my shots because on film, you usually only take 24 to 36 photos. I feel like sometimes, I look back at my film rolls and I wish – even if it looked good at the time – that I hadn’t taken a photo of it. Again, it’s part of the process.

What made you choose urban photography over other sorts of photography? Is it purely because it’s how you got into photography?

I think it was a lot to do with the stuff I was into, maybe? I was very much into graffiti and street art and that’s also fundamental to certain urban areas, they have all that sort of stuff around. Also the energy of it, it felt like it had more of a spark, unlike countryside photography. Just because there’s so much going on and so much you can learn from being in certain urban environments and sometimes from people. Like, I’ve done portrait photography and really got to know people. So, I feel like the kind of busyness of urban environments is really, really interesting to me and that’s what drew me to it.

Is it purely Liverpool or different urban areas?

Just everywhere. I feel like Liverpool has really been very good for my film photography because I’ve really gone deeper into the city of Liverpool itself and different areas and stuff. Liverpool has a certain atmosphere to it as well and like I say, that’s kind of what inspires this metaphor of the fabric. I made a photo zine called ’51 Fabric which was about the fabric of Liverpool as a city and the people. I’m always looking to expand into other areas, like surrounding areas of the North West but fundamentally, I think Liverpool’s definitely a great influence.

Does this event fit in the ethos of fabric?

Yeah, it brings so many things together and it’s good to see. It’s nice because creatively, you think in the same way as a musician. You do different things but they come out the same way, you wanna put stuff on, bring different art forms together.

Who or what inspires you?

Ongoing, there are a lot of people who inspire me! If I have to name one, Harry F Conway, he’s a big photographer in London and he’s done a lot of portrait photography. He produced a book called Bakerloo, which is about the Bakerloo line and everyday life in portraits. He’s really inspired me because he’s a pure film photographer as well. He really shows the authenticity of people; everyday people, everyday action. That’s what I try to capture as well, in urban environments, so he’s a big inspiration to me. I have the privilege of knowing a lot of really great photographers who inspire me, Cicely Grace is another one, she really inspires me.

In terms of what inspires me, I’d say, knowing people who are as passionate as me about doing exhibitions and stuff like that, especially around Liverpool and the North West. We’ve seen the turnout for these exhibitions and we know people are interested in what we’re doing! It’s really nice to see people appreciate that and it motivates me further to carry on with it and pursue it.

What do you study?

I study German with Film Studies.

That makes sense! Where do you hope your photography takes you in the future?

At the moment, with the exhibitions I’ve got, I hope to carry that on but I hope that Fabric Collective will grow and I’d love to work and curate and do shows and organise shows for photographers and amateur artists. So yeah, I guess time will tell really but that’s kind of the area I’d go into.

How did you decide what you wanted to showcase tonight?

Tonight I wanted to showcase a fair variety of my photography and if I’m honest, I wouldn’t say that everything I’m displaying tonight is exactly what I usually photograph but I feel like it shows the most variation perhaps, so there’s a lot of stuff from the North West and Liverpool and also from Germany and like London. Just a variety of Fabric.

Finally, do you have any messages for photographers out there?

I would just say, get out there as much as you can, with your camera and make connections. The most important thing is, it’s not just about what you’re photographing but also where you’re going. So, make the most of the area you’re in with your camera and photograph things that you might not be so familiar with. You might find once you photograph a certain thing, that you like that avenue of photography and you want to carry on. So, I’d just say try lots of different things because even if you don’t like what you’re photographing, at least you tried and that’s the only thing you can do and that’s how you make connections. Just get out there.

You can join Fabric Collective on the opening night of their 6-week Photography Exhibition at Nomad Cafe Smithdown Road, with DJs performing live music all night. Friday 9th December 7-12pm. Tickets are available here for £4 or on the door (cash only).

Cover Image: Peace✌️Mickey & Minnie Mouse in Bologna, Italy – June 2022 – by Oscar H (used with permission)