In conversation with Portrait of Britain winner and Fashion Photography graduate Logan Davies
05 May 2023
Earlier this year, 2022 Fashion Photography BA(Hons) graduate Logan Davies was announced as a winner of the Portrait of Britain Award. We caught up with them to talk about their award-winning work, their experience at Falmouth and the importance of authentic queer representation in photography.
Let’s start at the beginning – where did your passion for photography come from?
I was meant to become a doctor, like most people from the grammar school I went to have. But then my friend brought a camera, and I became obsessed. I would play with it whenever we went out shopping or anything. Then I did an online photography course during free periods at school and went on to study a pre-degree course at Arts University Plymouth, before joining Falmouth.
It's one of those weird butterfly effects. If my friend hadn’t bought that camera, maybe I wouldn’t have got as involved in photography as I did. Or if one of my lecturers hadn’t said something that completely changed how I viewed my work, maybe I wouldn’t have won the Portrait of Britain.
It was a comment on coming out and realising who you are, and then having to deconstruct those hetero-normative ideas that you've been brought up with and sort of find yourself again.
How did it feel when you were announced as a Portrait of Britain winner?
Weird! As soon as I finished university, I applied to so many different student competitions that I didn't even get shortlisted for. So, I’d almost forgotten that I had even entered the Portrait of Britain. I couldn't believe it when I found out I'd won.
I remember getting stuck in the mud and my friend laughing at me as I was taking that shot. And then when I went to London with my mum, suddenly I saw that same photo on bus stop and tube station screens all over the city. I also saw the Portrait of Britain book for sale at the Tate Modern. It was amazing, but very strange. It was just sort of...immensely everywhere...
Can you tell us about the concept behind the winning work?
The portrait is from a photo series I did at university of members of my drag family back home in Plymouth. I wanted to look at how queer people sort of ‘reconstruct’ themselves into these new fantastical identities. It was a comment on coming out and realising who you are, and then having to deconstruct those hetero-normative ideas that you've been brought up with and sort of find yourself again.
The concept was ‘National Geographic meets fashion photography’, so I transformed my friends into these different creatures. I went as far as to write descriptions about each of the characters; what they do, how they eat, how they mate – I got really into it! In the end, it was just me and my friends having fun in a storm!
I think it’s important for queer people to make queer work, to show that narrative from the perspective of lived experience.
Why is it important to you to represent queer identity in your work?
I feel like a lot of queer imagery can be so grungy or sharp-edged that it makes it seem almost dirty or underbelly-esque. So, I sort of want to give a new twist to it. I also think it’s important for queer people to make queer work, to show that narrative from the perspective of lived experience.
My dissertation was actually about queer artists and why they're seen as trailblazers within the artistic community. I think it’s because in comparison to the people that have had a voice for centuries, it seems so new and different. It’s why you have your Alexander McQueens or your Leonard Finks. They were creating work from a set of experiences that other people had never experienced and saying things that others had never needed to say.
Let’s talk about your time at Falmouth – were you encouraged to engage with competitions like Portrait of Britain while you were studying?
Definitely. Even coming to Open Days, we heard from students who had won competitions while they were still at university. When I was in my first year, I remember talking to fellow students at the time and saying, ‘how is this going to be any of us?’. You can't imagine it happening to you at that time, there was a lot of self-doubt. But now so many other people from my year have gone on to win awards and do great work.
I was always the person that emailed my lecturers in a panic for advice about my projects. So much so that I started calling it my weekly newsletter – they were all amazing for putting up with it!
How did the Fashion Photography lecturers support your creative development?
I was always the person that emailed my lecturers in a panic for advice about my projects. So much so that I started calling it my weekly newsletter – they were all amazing for putting up with it! When we had our final show, my dad went up to the lecturers to thank them for looking after me for the past three years.
My first-year lecturer Eloise was really good at getting people into the flow of university and opening our minds to thinking and working at that level. In second year, Donald was amazing at helping us to deconstruct the idea of photography, ready for our third year when Phillip would just dare us to do anything!
And then there’s the course leader Jonathan – the only person from the university my mum ever remembers the name of! We saw him talk at an Open Day and he was just so passionate about the course – it's like his baby. It was really inspiring and definitely helped to cement my decision to choose Falmouth.
The student culture of Falmouth is so unique. I find it really difficult to compare it to anything else. It's just a really special place.
Looking back, what was your experience of the student community at Falmouth like?
The student culture of Falmouth is so unique. The town is like one massive student village. I find it really difficult to compare it to anything else. It's just a really special place. I wish I had taken more time to appreciate what I had while I was there. I think you take a lot of stuff for granted at university – my advice to anyone looking to go to Falmouth is to make the most of it! You’ll miss it when it’s gone.
And finally – what are you up to now?
I’m juggling lots of things! I’m working as a duty manager at a restaurant, producing my own work and freelancing. But working with young people is my favourite thing that I’m doing right now.
I started volunteering with the LGBTQ youth group that I used to go to in Plymouth, and I'm also working with FOTONOW to support young people who are working towards the Arts Award. It’s like the Duke of Edinburgh Award but for artists, where young people can come and learn about all the different artistic practices.
Going forward I’d like to go into retouching for my main career and fashion photography and fine art as my side hustle.
You can explore more of Logan’s work on their website and Instagram.