Friction Collective Spotlight: Fin Davies
This week we're shining a light on our Creative Director Fin Davies. Fin has a huge amount of experience in photography and film (35+ years!) and because of this he's very much the backbone of the collective. We've asked him 19 questions (to be exact) about photography, film, getting into the industry and what he eats for breakfast, naturally. Thanks Fin!
Published: November 2018
FC: What drives you creatively?
Fin: I get inspired by so many things; it could be a new scene I see meandering through life, a news report that springs an idea or a subject that I feel needs to be exposed photographically. I’m driven by the desire to create both still and moving imagery that portrays, in some way, my feelings about those subjects. I truly believe a picture can speak a thousand words and create conversation through opinion and silence.
FC: How did you get into film / photography?
Fin: At around the age of 13, a good friend of mine was gifted a Hasselblad camera kit, which was and still is the pinnacle of quality in cameras (they took one to the moon..don’t you know!!). Because my friend wanted to learn more, he suggested we start a photography club at our school in Bristol, once called ‘Russel Town Avenue’ now the ‘City Academy’.
I didn’t have any experience of photography or anything better to do at the time so intrigued, I agreed to join. Through a mix of Saturday jobs and early morning milk rounds (yes I am that old haha!) I saved up enough pennies to buy my first 35mm camera, a Russian made body called a Kiev, it had a pretty good lens for the time. Subsequently Phil and I were asked to cover the fledgling St Pauls Carnival in Mina Road Park in Bristol, for the school rag. Shortly after that, I sold my first photo which was of a Scrambler rider for the Bultaco team at a local event, which I also processed and printed.
I was hooked.
FC: Were you tempted by any other career paths?
Fin: I was also massively, and still am, interested and inspired by architecture. Had the photography not taken over I would have probably pursued that career instead. Architecture, form and structure still play a strong part in my imagery today.
FC: To anyone who doesn’t know what a Director of Photography is (DOP) how would you explain your job?
Fin: Essentially at the early stages of a video project, where the look and visual narrative of a film is being planned, I will advise and plan the visual look and lighting style with the director.
Once we start the project I work alongside the director giving him or her what they want in terms of look and style, with lens choice, camera movements, and lighting styles. I work closely with the gaffer (head electrician) to set out the lights and keep consistency between each clip of the film.
Because of my stills experience with composition, cameras, lenses, colour and lighting, I was able transition to cinematography fairly easily.
FC: What jobs/projects give you a real buzz?
Fin: Anything that challenges me technically and visually. Something that has a deep meaning that the viewer will hopefully connect with. An interesting, challenging and positive story. Working with inspirational people as part of the team.
FC: What are you working on at the moment?
Fin: RAW BEAUTY, which is a study of real people in real environments doing real things, to show the beauty in the natural and ordinary.
Fin: (Cont) ENERGY, a study of our consumption of energy in all it’s forms.
(cont) ANIMALIA: A study of animals depicting them as heroic creatures. Plus many more. I always have several personal projects on the go at one time and attempt to fit them in around our Friction Collective work.
FC: As a photographer, how would you describe your style?
Fin: That’s hard to nail down as I seem to have a few styles. Ultimately I guess I would say a dramatic and opposing look at the ordinary
FC: What’s on the menu for breakfast?
Fin: Whatever’s in the cupboard. Mostly toast and either jam or Marmite, orange juice and coffee. Now it’s winter, porridge is fairly high on the list.
FC: What’s your favourite way to spend a Sunday in Bristol?
Fin: Seeing family and friends, cycling, cleaning the house, watching films, doing bugger all. A day off from creating.
FC: Favourite place to eat in Bristol?
Fin: My new favourite is Franco Manca. Great pizzas, friendly knowledgeable staff and good value.
FC: What are you listening to at the moment?
Fin: Well right now whilst writing this, I’m listening to Melé, but mostly I listen to drum and bass, with a fair amount of Bicep thrown into the mix.
FC: What’s your favourite quote?
Fin: Weirdly ‘Life’s a bitch and then you die”… stays with me. It reminds of me how negative some people are and to not let myself get to this place and keep up the positive vibes. It also makes me laugh, whenever I hear it as it feels so British in it’s decent.
FC: What do you find really, really fun to do?
Fin: Snowboarding, photography, running a business, windsurfing, meeting with friends, skating, time with my kids, squash, directing, cycling, getting lost on a journey, seeing new places.
FC: What advice would you give to anyone starting out in film/photography?
Fin: Get started! It seems obvious but it’s the hardest thing to do. It doesn’t really matter how you get started just as long as you do something. The rest will follow. Have an idea of what you want to end up doing and how you’d like to do it and mould your plans around that. If you don’t have much kit or work to show then borrow some kit, do some samples and challenge your skills. Build a portfolio and gain some experience working for others. Get to know as many people as you can that will enable your quest. Stay enthusiastic and positive. Be tenacious and single-minded. Stay grateful.
FC: Dream piece of kit right now?
Fin: Can I have 2? Ronin 2 and Nikon D850
FC: Who inspires you to pick up your camera?
Fin: Josef Koudelka, a Czech photographer whose work I massively admire. You’ll see his influence in a few of my projects. His early work with panoramics was way ahead of it’s time; I love the grit of his black and whites.
FC: If you had to invite three people to your dinner party (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Fin: Josef Koudelka: I think he’d have some amazing stories and incites. My Dad, he died when I was 16 so I didn’t have time to get to know him properly. Elvis Costello: Quality opinionated musical artist and I’d also have to have Jack and Connie (my kids) there too as I love their company.
FC: If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill what would it be?
Fin: Drum’n’Bass DJ
Fin: This is hard but if I had to say one then Ex Machina. It’s beautiful to look at and is sensitively directed. The film has a dystopian and worrying look at what our future could hold. Also, Alicia Vikander…just saying!
A part of what makes working as a collective so great is having a team of creative minds ready to support you at the drop of a hat. Whether it’s feedback on a project, or input with generating ideas, there’s usually someone to ask. Everyone has their own area of expertise so pulling in ideas from every angle allows Friction Collective to be more dynamic, creative and cutting edge.
If you’re looking for a photographer, or you just have some more random questions to ask Fin (really? More?) contact Fin: Fin@frictioncollective.com