Salford Styling & Image Making Graduate, Beth Morris is lifting the veil of conservative masculinity. Drawing inspiration from early Larry Clark movies, such as ‘Ken Park’ and ‘Kids’, as well as Joost Vanderbrug’s ‘Lost Boys’, Morris is fearless in her determination to capture the vulnerable personalities of her predominantly male, adolescent subjects.
TRIP caught up with Morris to discuss her inspirations, her subjects and masculine vulnerability.
TRIP: What or who inspires you?
Beth Morris: I’m really inspired by Larry Clark’s work. ‘Ken Park’ and ‘Kids’ were my go-to films for making my own teenage years seem more normal. I’m really in love with the people he casts and I love the way he uses real people and often incorporates parts of their own personalities into his characters. I often cast like this for my personal work. I also take a lot of inspiration from Ed Templeton and Joost Vandebrug’s ‘Lost Boys’ and the way they capture raw emotion.
TRIP: Has Salford had an influence on your work?
Beth Morris: Not necessarily just Salford but where I’ve grew up has had a massive influence on my work. I grew up in a small town full of small-minded people. It’s the kind of place people think they like to visit - they think it has nice scenery. If only they knew that the grass isn’t really green, neither are the trees. They’re all grey, along with the buildings, the sky and especially the people. I take a lot of my inspiration from those people, the people that get stuck here.
TRIP: You predominantly shoot guys. Is this a conscious decision?
Beth Morris: Yeah. I used to shoot girls as well but I found that for my personal work it was necessary for me to shoot boys, as they were more fitting with my themes. The boys I chose to shoot are real people in their own environment.
TRIP: I love how you depict your male subjects - they are not overtly ‘masculine’ or ‘aggressive’ but are somewhat fragile and inoffensive – it’s as if the audience is a voyeur and we are seeing these guys for their natural selves. Would you agree with this?
Beth Morris: Yes I agree. There is always a natural vulnerability to my boys. I’m drawn to boys with stories, boys with struggles and pain. Boys I can connect with. I want my boys to be loved for their personalities not their faces. They were never asked to perform for the cameras. It’s just them and their lives making the most of what they’ve got.
TRIP: In some of your shoots you also photograph the immediate surrounding area - adding to this sense of storytelling. How important is the location and the idea of telling a story through your work, for you?
Beth Morris: It’s really important to some of my themes, as the location is a real honest depiction of the boys and their lives. I use my photography to tell their stories. Nothing is really staged, we just hang out. For other themes I just like to strip everything back and just portray the raw emotion through their faces.
TRIP: Do you style your models yourself or do you work with stylists?
Beth Morris: The majority of the time the clothes belong to the boys so I usually just work around that and document them in their own aesthetic. I have also worked with my friend, a stylist in the past and will continue to be doing so hopefully leading to a bigger collaboration early next year.