Welcome to ‘In The Frame’ - our recurring feature in which we chat to inspiring individuals, and find out what makes them tick.
This week, we caught up with Sheffield based portrait photographer and slow fashion advocate, Sam Binstead.
Sam, for those who might not know you, please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey! I’m Sam and I’m a fashion and portrait photographer based in the sunny North Of England with my partner Holly and our dog Lilith.
I have a strong focus in my photography on working with traditional crafts and makers, and slow and sustainable fashion, as these have always been a huge part of my life. To sum it up as short as possible: I just love people and processes!
The people and the processes, we could agree more!
So, what made you choose photography as your creative medium?
I’ve always had an affinity for things that are equal parts creativity and technicality, my first ever job out of school was as a sound engineer. Then I became obsessed with coffee, and how tiny recipe changes of a few seconds or half a gram of coffee can completely impact the flavour of the end cup. I love the balance of the nerdy technical side - with scales and refractometers and stuff - alongside the more holistic side of the ceramics it’s served in and the whole experience of brewing. The day I picked up a camera I fell in love with the same thing. The opportunity to geek out on technical details in the pursuit of a satisfying creative output. Does that make sense?
This makes perfect sense to us. There are so many ways to be creative in life, curiosity and a desire to experiment is part of the fun.
What inspires your work?
First and foremost it’s the people in the pictures. They’re always the springboard for the rest of the ideas. Often when it’s portraits of makers and such I find so much inspiration in the little details and corners of mess in their studios and workspaces. The kind of stuff they see everyday and think little of, but when you get to snoop around trying to find out what makes these people tick there’s always something interesting hidden in the details.
With the fashion work I’m forever focussed on fabrics. Fabrics are so woven into our entire existence that we have metaphors we use on the daily (like things being ‘woven into our existence’). The textures, movement, and colours of natural fibres and materials are always the first thing on my mind. I feel like the ‘mess’ of my makers portraits seeps over into my fashion work too. I love to create a bit of clutter in a frame, a human element of some sorts.
We love that your wardrobe and work favours more mindful, slow fashion brands - has this always been on your radar or did something in particular spark this passion?
I’ve thought a lot about where this started, and there’s two major points I can recall. The most recent is just over 10 years ago when the coffee obsession started. I was buying coffee beans based on their provenance and traceability. The more transparent a roaster could be about their supply chain and buying model the more interested I was. It’s no secret that commodity coffee is rife with human rights abuses and unethical business practices, so I set minimum standards for the kind of coffee I’d buy. Direct trade, fully traceable back to farm etc. Then I had a bit of an epiphany along the lines of ‘why aren’t I approaching everything like this? My food and my clothes?
The other one is just shopping as a kid and seeing my mum and grandma stress test the seams on garments in stores, often with disappointing results. Even 20 years ago clothes had already become a race to the bottom for pricing which meant corners cut on construction. I think seeing that as a kid just made me conscious of quality and durability.
Being a friend a little further afield from London, you recently tried out our Home Try-On Service instead of coming into store for your new spectacles - we’d love to know what you thought of the experience and why you chose the Nørrebro frame?
I loved it! Blown away by that snazzy reusable packaging. That was so cool to use. My only problem with it was that it was SO difficult choosing a frame!! I loved them all and could see them all slotting nicely into my wardrobe. I did finally decide on the Nørrebro frame as I felt it would be the most versatile with my wardrobe, and a nice pair of round metal frames is a timeless look that I can wear for decades!
We think you made a good choice.
Now, last but not least, if you could have five famous people (real or fictional, past or present) at your dinner party, who would they be?
Kate Bush, Dieter Rams, David Mellor, Aja Barber, Akira Kurosawa. Not sure what the conversation would be like mind you…
Get to know Sam and explore his work:
Website - www.samuelbinstead.co.uk