“I didn’t really realise I was a photographer. I knew how to take pictures because it was something we did in our family, so I sort of walked backwards into it,” photographer and filmmaker Autumn de Wilde tells us.
Born in a cabin in Woodstock, New York that belonged to friends of her parents, she grew up immersed in creativity. “I had a wonderful childhood. My parents were part of the counterculture movement in the 60s so I grew up around a lot of wild minds,” she remembers. “We were really broke but I think I learned how to make something out of nothing from my parents. It was a very creative household.” She learned her trade organically from her father, Jerry de Wilde, a photographer who documented the everyday culture he was part of, as well as festivals and musicians including the likes of Jimi Hendrix. “You can’t trade that osmosis type of education,” she says.
“At one point, we got evicted and lived in my dad’s photo studio. Wherever we lived, my dad made a darkroom,” she recalls. “It was just one of my favourite places to hang out when he was printing.” Seeing the printing process at a young age was formative. “You learn that you’re not totally in control of the image.” She would fish through boxes of her father’s photos and began to absorb the sensibilities that permeated them, which she would later try to weave into her own work. “It was so apparent in his photos that there was a whole world that I could only see that one snapshot of. It was beautiful and exciting.
“When I started shooting my friends, I was really wanting to make sure I was creating photos like those ones that I adored, that I feel are family heirlooms and treasures,” she continues. “It’s really important to me to make it look like everyone I’m directing or photographing has been a friend of mine for a long time, and not in an artificial way.” This candour underpins many of her portraits of musicians and celebrities (available on her Tumblr page, which makes for enjoyable browsing) from Robert Pattinson to Elijah Wood, as well as her long-running collaborative relationship with fashion label Rodarte.