PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM: Sam Taylor-Johnson has dipped into her bulging photo archive — and pressed her four children into action — as guest editor of the latest edition of Humanity, the annual, in-house magazine from denim brand Citizens of Humanity.
Issue 14 showcases some of Taylor-Johnson’s most famous work, including images from her chair series, and portraits of herself appearing to levitate. There are also shots of David Hockney, Miuccia Prada, Kate Moss and a host of other celebrities.
The photographer, artist and filmmaker, who was one of the YBAs, or Young British Artists, has also done a denim shoot featuring her younger daughters. She tapped her eldest Angelica Jopling to do Q&As with friends including Stella and Mary McCartney, Bella Freud, Michael Stipe and Baillie Walsh.
In an interview, Taylor-Johnson said that Jared Freedman, brand director of Citizens of Humanity, originally approached her about the project and she was free to do what she wanted.
“We looked at thousands of pictures that I’ve taken over the years, printed out 2,000 or 3,000 of them on sheets of paper and then laid them out on the floor,” she said. The final selection, she added, has a “beat, an internal rhythm and language” all its own.
“It looks quite spontaneous, but it was overly thought-through,” Taylor-Johnson said, adding that she put the book together during the height of lockdown, with the team dressed in hazmat suits and goggles. “There are so many personal pictures…It was a moment of reflection, but I didn’t want it to be all about me, so I threw my kids in as well.”
Taylor-Johnson asked her eldest Angelica to do the interviews with family friends, and asked her other three daughters to model the oversize denim pieces, which envelop them.
“You can’t see their faces, and I love the ‘merged hair’ pictures,” she said, referring to a profile shot of two sisters posing with their foreheads together forming one long curtain of hair. Taylor-Johnson is clearly proud of her four daughters, and calls them “my little women.”
Admitting she loves a commercial project now and then, Taylor-Johnson said, “Anything can inspire me, whether it’s creative or commercial. If I have an idea, and can see it, then why not throw it out there?”
The L.A.-based Taylor-Johnson marked the launch of the Humanity issue with a party at Chiltern Firehouse earlier this week, and said she was happy — and relieved — to be back in London after so long, although it was strange to see so many of her friends in person.
“I was away for two solid years, and I was out of practice socializing. Suddenly they were all right there,” she joked. Guests included Kristin Scott Thomas, David Walliams, Mary McCartney and Minnie Driver.
Taylor-Johnson, whose films include “Nowhere Boy,” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” said she has a series of film projects on the go, although she declined to give details. She will also be directing an upcoming episode of a TV series in June, with a star so amazing, she said, she couldn’t say no to the opportunity.