Neil Bedford x Potato Head

London-based fashion photographer Neil Bedford, a long-time friend of ours, visited the island last year and found himself intrigued by the island’s local surf community.

Shooting a portrait series for Potato Head, Neil took to the beaches of Seminyak and Canggu to meet the resident surf crews there, stopping them as they headed into the sea for their morning session or came out, still dripping, in the afternoon. Titled ‘Good Boys,’ the series of close-up monochromes reveals the special bond between the Bali surfers and the watery environment in which they feel most content.

 

Following the release of Good Boys | Jacob – a double page front cover newspaper featuring the Bali series alongside images of Yorkshire horse farrier and amateur boxer, Jacob Pollard – Neil talks us through the stories behind the shots and how the two seemingly contrasting subjects relate.

What appealed about the island’s surf boys?

I’ve always loved sport and athleticism. Before I came out to Bali I spoke with a couple of people about the scene as I wanted to spend a day just watching people surf. Local Balinese surfers interested me more as I thought it might bring a different style, both surfing-wise and how the kids looked. People typically think of somewhere like Australia when they imagine surf, which also meant that would be a no-go for me as it’s too stereotypical. Once I arrived in Bali I took a trip to a beach and started to see lots of amazing looking local surfers so knew I’d be able to shoot a small series.

Why did you choose to connect the Bali surfers with Jacob?

I’d actually been shooting Jacob on and off for a few months by the time I came to Bali and initially had no idea that I’d connect the two projects together. I think what draws the two seemingly disparate portraits together is the reliance of them to their surroundings. Jacob’s life is deeply rooted within the Yorkshire landscape with his laborious work a reflection of the land he makes his living from. The Balinese surfers are inherently tied to their location, the wild Indian Ocean dictating their beloved practice.

Why did you choose to shoot in black and white?

I love shooting in black and white in general and never really give it much thought when it comes to my personal work. I think it has a lot to do with trying to create classic or timeless images that don’t rely on colour to date or age them. Colours are very specific to time, not necessarily the shades of the grade you apply, but also those within the image, so I like to take that element out for the viewer so they can just concentrate on the photograph I present them.

In general, what would you say you are looking to achieve with your photography?

That’s hard. I want to create images that people want to look at and will always find inspiration from. I don’t want to try and tell anyone anything or have any hidden messages within my work.

What makes an interesting photograph?

I personally just think it’s down to the subject matter within the image. For me it should be a person as that’s what I love, so having someone you see and think ‘he/she is amazing’ is a good start for me. Then I’m interested in the light and how it’s been used and the composition. I think it’s a fairly simple equation.

Bali-based subjects that you dream of shooting?

I’d love to head back to Bali and shoot more, perhaps something on the local fishermen – I noticed them last time and really thought I could make an interesting series.

Good Boys | Jacob is available via Neil’s website here

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