W magazine sits down with grizzled veteran photographer Brooklyn Beckham, 18, to discuss his new book, that Burberry Brit campaign he shot when he was just 16, and his plans for college.
W: How did you end up publishing a book at just 18?
BROOKLYN: Penguin came to me two and a half years ago. I was really shocked and I couldn’t believe that they’d actually ask me to just yet, because I’d just kind of started. It took two years to really get it to its final thing, but it’s been a really cool process, and I’m really happy with it. They actually first saw my work on Instagram, which has kind of helped—it’s where I post my photos and use my following to get my work out there, which I feel like is what most people nowadays do.
What was it that pushed you to start pursuing [photography] seriously?
It was actually my mum’s idea to go to New York [to study photography]. And she does take some photos, but on her phone, usually. But I mean, I’ve always wanted to go to uni, because people say it’s the best years of their lives. I’m really excited to move and live as a student and really start my photography career.
I imagine she was helpful when you shot your first Burberry Brit campaign. How old were you then?
I was 16, or maybe beginning of 17, and it was really nerve-wracking because it was kind of like the beginning of my photography [career]. But then throughout the day, I got used to it and I developed a good relationship with the models. And I made sure I didn’t use well known models—I used models who hadn’t really done a lot yet.
Did you work on the casting with Christopher Bailey and the team, too?
Yeah, they gave me a whole list of options of different people, including some well-known ones. But I like to shoot new faces—not established ones like, you know, Kendall Jenner. But I was really lucky to get that opportunity, and Christopher was such a huge inspiration—I really do look up to him. He’s a really nice lad.
Who else has shown you the ropes when it came to taking your own photos, besides your dad?
I did an internship with Nick Knight, and he gave me a lot of pointers that I took and tried to use when I shot some of my mates or my family—like how to position [the camera] and the light in certain ways, and get comfortable with the model. Now I talk to them before I start shooting them, and while they’re talking to me, I usually take a few shots and try to get used to them, get to know them.
Have you ever felt like you’ve been underestimated because of how young you are to be so accomplished?
Yeah, especially when people knew I was shooting Burberry, everyone was kind of—some were annoyed, and I kind of got quite a bit of hate for that. But I think once the photos came out, people could really see that photography was my thing that I wanted to do. So I feel like people are starting to take me more seriously as a photographer now.
Right, the photos speak for themselves. Have you experienced similar reactions with people making assumptions because of your last name?
Yeah, I mean, people are always going to know me as Victoria and David Beckham’s son, and people thought that [I’ve gotten this] because of my parents—and part of it maybe, yeah, of course, it does help, but I’m just trying to make my own way. That’s why I’m moving to New York now—I’m trying to make a name for myself, and just really start my photography career and live as a student, which will be cool and I’m excited about. I want to really study and learn about fashion, and kind of discipline for a few years, really start to study, and then probably start my photography career. I feel like that’d be really good for me—to disappear for a few years. And I’m going to do more interning, like with Mario Sorrenti and all that, so I’m excited. That’s my favorite thing, is just interning.
Have you seen your style develop since you’ve been assisting and interning, too?
Yeah, I feel like I’ve really improved. Most of the photos in my book are my old work, not recent ones—I’ve started to do a lot more portraits and a lot more fashion photography.
And some of them, like you say yourself in the book, are quite out of focus. Was it your idea to include those?
Yeah, most of them are out of focus. There’s this one with these neon lights down this hallway that’s out of focus which some people thought I did on accident, which is why I kind of had to explain it. But, you know, it’s kind of my style.