For our June Dream Team shoot, Melbourne creative James J. Robinson took SUKU leisure wear outside of the home and into a place of surprising inspiration; the suburban shopping plaza. In the photos they made together, we can sense that there's something cheeky about wearing your pyjamas outside, like there’s a feeling of quiet rebelliousness, but also a relief in allowing yourself to be comfy no matter where you go. We spoke to James about how he’s settling into New York City, and how a story can come out from a space and its particular quality of light.
We feel very lucky to have caught you before you left for the U.S! When you’re away from home, what’s something you need to do to feel comfortable again?
I need to take control of the lighting in my room! It’s very specific, but I need things to be lit well before I can sit down and work. I just moved into an apartment in NYC, and the first thing I did was draw lighting plans – tungsten light on the wall here, purple light on my desk there, etc. Feeling at home for me is all about creating an atmosphere for yourself to live in, and an atmosphere that’s moody and evocative helps bring out the emotions I need to create honest art.
What do you look for when picking out a place to photograph in?
I always think about the way the light falls on the place. If I’m shooting somewhere outdoors, I need to know in what direction the sun falls and rises, and that will determine what time we need to shoot. When indoors, I like places that are textured and are able to reflect light well. It’s why I never shoot in studios (not that studio work can’t be incredible!), I just really like immersing models in locations and turning them into characters – like I do in my filmmaking work.
We love the playful quality you brought out in these photos with Tamrin. What’s the backstory to this shoot?
Tamrin was such an angel to work with! My best friend Bridgette lives in Footscray and had her photo taken in this amazing quiet plaza in the middle of the suburb. I’d always wanted to shoot there and figured it was the right time, a week before moving overseas, to do something. It was my first time meeting Tamrin but we hit it off straight away. We quickly used up the location and decided to walk around the area a bit more and hang out – walking around with someone wearing pyjamas in the middle of the day isn’t as embarrassing as you’d think.
What are looking forward to creating in NYC?
I’m a filmmaker above everything else that I do – and it’s so much fun getting more involved with the film community over here. The film industry in Australia works so differently to the one in the USA. Here it’s so much easier to get involved in big productions because there is so much happening. I’m working with a few big brands and magazines here too – being on the other side of the world has inspired me with so many new ideas.
What’s your dream shoot location?
The pool from Cruel Intentions! It used to be my phone background for a year – I’ve always wanted to shoot at a nice indoor pool but the majority that aren’t privately owned are way too modern or have no character. That pool is the perfect example of 90’s-neo-Roman-classical décor.
Photography // James J. Robinson
Styling // Christine Lafian
Words // Maxine Dabrowski