Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I was never a documentary photographer. I was just photographing my mates, it wasn’t deliberate, other people give me that label.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I had no understanding of what I had done when I was taking those pictures at 15,16 and 17 years old. From 1979 onwards, the bulk of the historical Skins & Punks era was from the 1979 to 1981period.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I’m not inspired by anyone else. I’m inspired by what’s in front of me. I have old cameras that I’ve bought for a few pounds, old Olympus 10s. When I do large campaigns I’ll work with a great post production editor; I’m just interested in taking the photos, not anything else. It’s all about the story, the subjects. I rarely use flash, I hate using flash actually. I will still use film because I know it will be safe, it’s a back up because you can lose 5 years of work using digital, in an instant.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins and Punks was not a subject that I intentionally set out to photograph, it was my life. The images I created were down to me being a fast worker, I kept things very simple using the one camera and film, this is very much the way I still work today.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

It was Christmas ’78–79 I went down to Woolies with mum for my present. In a glass cabinet there was a pair of binoculars and a camera – a Hanimax 110. I was sure I wanted binoculars, but standing there I thought, fuck it, I’ll have the camera. I don’t know why. I loaded a roll of 110 film and took pictures of my family and friends. My whole life was family, my life was very contained…

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I sent the film away for developing and printing. When it came back and I saw my very first pictures, something just went BANG. I’d managed to pick a camera with a glass lens. It was basic, but better than the plastic lens cameras everyone else bought, such as the terrible Kodak Instamat. Because the Hanimax had a glass lens, when I got my prints back I saw they were much better than any other people’s home photos. That did it for me, I got that initial spurt and became into photography on the spot.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

But I always wanted the best, I would browse through catalogues just to write lists of the most expensive things in there. I dreamt of the best equipment, a Canon A1, out of reach in working class family. I saved up for my first 35mm camera, a Zenith, base Russian SLR built like a tank. I didn’t like it, it wasn’t good enough for me. One day I came home from school, my dad is in the kitchen and he says “I have something for you, son”. He had bought me an Olympus OM1. It was any other Wednesday, not my birthday, for no reason he whips out this expensive camera. I could feel my brothers’ eyes of envy on the my back of my neck. I still shoot with that camera.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I had no professional photographic goals, I was more interested in being in a skinhead gang with a bit of photography on the side. I was a nervous photographer, and I still am. I’ve never gone up to a stranger and asked to take their photograph. I just couldn’t photograph other people, so it was all about my friends. My life was based around my friends, we all were all skinheads together, we all were teenagers together. If I hadn’t actually been a skinhead and set out to photograph them, the result would be very different. They’d all be V signing and shouting “fuck off, mate!”. It’s why I haven’t got the atypical pictures of what society think skinheads are, or even what skinheads think skinheads are.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I’m not a different photographer from the one I was at 15, I’m a natural, I have a raw organic way of taking pictures. My methods have not changed.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

I don’t actually think I have a particular style, well I haven’t consciously set out to have one anyway, although I do know other people think I do, they can look at my work and know it’s a Gavin Watson. For me its more about looking through the lens and if it looks good I take it, I’m generally just happy when they are in focus (laughs), but to be honest, sometimes it’s OK with me if they are a not, they don’t always have to be perfect, maybe that’s part of my style. As I said I like to keep things very simple, I work with one camera at a time and still use film. I don’t like using a zoom lens, I prefer to move around a lot instead, this is the way i worked when i was 15 and i still do now. I do think my pictures have a certain energy within them, they actually look like real people rather that just figures.

– Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson

Skins & Punks © Gavin Watson