Campbell Addy’s journey to Feeling Seen
In just six years, photographer Campbell Addy has carved a distinctive place within the fashion industry. Here he talks to Gem Fletcher about his new book Feeling Seen and the importance of friendship, community and intimacy in his work
Few young photographers have done more than Campbell Addy to reshape their industry. From day one, Addy built worlds not just in his films and photographs but through an ecosystem that traversed publishing (Niijournal) and casting (Nii Agency). These businesses were born from a desire to shift the power both in front and behind the camera, cultivating space for Addy’s community to be together and build together.
Over time, his approach has became a template for circumventing the historic discrimination that has played out in our cultural institutions and magazines — breaking down the notion of gatekeeping by building worlds, not infiltrating them. Just six years since Addy joined the industry, at 29 he is one of the most in-demand British photographers working today.
Feeling Seen, his first monograph published this month by Prestel, gives readers an intimate glimpse into his life and work. Iconic fashion images, personal projects and previously unseen works are punctuated by stories from fellow pioneers such as Nadine Ijewere and Naomi Campbell, as well as personal stories from Addy. We see his poetry, a frank conversation with his mum, as well as heartfelt letters he wrote to his heroes James Barnor and Ajamu X. The book is framed by a forward by long-time collaborator Edward Enninful and an honest conversation with curator Ekow Eshun that traces key moments in his journey to this point.
For Addy, Feeling Seen marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. In this highly personal interview, he talks about about his career – about finding himself, his style and his place in the creative world, plus the sometimes traumatic chaos he experienced along the way – as well as the new possibilities he is now envisioning.
Tyler, The Creator for WSJ Magazine Innovators, 2019; All images: © Campbell Addy, 2022