Alasdair McLellan has had a significant part to play in shaping the image of Britain’s youth culture and fashion, particularly hitting his stride throughout the 2000s, when his work was a regular fixture in titles like i-D and his star began to rise in tandem with cult skate brand and collaborators Palace.
The photographer has released an introspective two-part tome, Home and Away 1987-2022, which brings together 500 images taken over the course of McLellan’s 35 years in photography. Among them are portraits of familiar faces: David Hockney, Vivienne Westwood, Harry Styles, Mia Goth, and of course his work with model Agyness Deyn.
There are many other images of beautiful people, often in the great outdoors. Casual audiences looking at his work might question why these pretty young things aimlessly whiling away their time often look so preoccupied. They’re too young to have real feelings, some would say. Yet McLellan’s images give credence to the loves, worries, or distractions that in adulthood might seem insignificant, but mean the world in the haze of youth.
These portraits sit alongside his evocative yet overlooked landscape and environment photography, which treats grand viaducts, decaying high streets, old collieries, and flooded driveways with the same sense of awe.
The book has been self-published in partnership with creative studio M/M (Paris), following on from collaborations that include Saint Etienne’s 2021 album design, and McLellan’s book documenting Palace’s journey. McLellan describes music as one of his earliest and everlasting influences, and the design of Home and Away clearly references records, from its square proportions and plastic outer sleeve to the circular stickers on the front. A Joy Division cassette even appears on the cover of volume one.
The book’s name was originally going to allude to the death of the queen, but he deemed it too narrow, certainly too royal. (A photo of a woman holding a newspaper announcing the death of the monarch still made it into the book.) McLellan eventually went with Home and Away, and it’s hard to argue with a title like that. His successes have taken him away, but there is always that pull of home.
“I find myself thinking about the photos I took as a teenager in Doncaster and the various influences that inspired me to be a photographer in the first place,” McLellan says. “I suppose it’s a return to simpler times; it was just me and the subject rather than having 30 people standing behind me waiting for the picture to be taken, as it often is now. But at the heart of the pictures then and now, it’s still that same relationship – it’s only who or what you photograph that really matters.”
Home and Away 1987-2022 is out now; ideanow.online