Wonderland.

NIKE REACT ELEMENT 55: LAUREN MACCABEE

Meet the photographer immortalising the shimmering zeitgeist of Britain’s youth with her lens.

photographer Lauren Maccabee for Nike React Element 55
photographer Lauren Maccabee for Nike React Element 55

As part of a campaign to celebrate their latest shoe drop, Nike React Element 55, the iconic brand have enlisted the help of London’s most exciting and reactionary homegrown talent right now – all each unquenchable forces making waves in their respective industries.

Since graduating, Lauren Maccabee has used her talents behind the camera lens to capture the simmering pool of Britain’s most promising emerging creative talents.

Merging portraiture and fashion with a focus on youth culture, she’s snapped everyone from industry-stirring artists such as Mahalia, Cosha and Sports Team, to niche London creatives, even Drake fans and many more.

Perfectly conveying her subjects’ personalities with an honest and raw aesthetic, it’s no wonder she’s been picked as a collaborator for the Nike React Element 55 campaign.

We chatted with the photographer about being selected for the Nike collaboration and designing her own pair…

Lauren Maccabee shoe for Nike React Element 55 side
Lauren Maccabee shoe for Nike React Element 55
Lauren Maccabee shoe for Nike React Element 55 side
Lauren Maccabee shoe for Nike React Element 55

Can you tell me about the first time you picked up a camera?
I was probably 14. I was doing my art GCSE and I remember I just got really bored of drawing and I didn’t enjoy the process. I started photographing my sister growing up and then just didn’t really stop, that’s how I got into portraiture.

Who were your heroes growing up?
I watched a Kate Bush video when I was young and became obsessed!  Her voice, her hair and her style felt so different from anything I’d seen before. 

What do you think is the secret to capturing the personalities of your subjects?
Chatting a lot. If I have an hour with someone I’ll talk with them for half an hour before I start taking photos. Taking a portrait can be a really intimate thing, especially if the subject isn’t used to it. I think I get the most out of the people I’m photographing when there’s a good relationship there. I get to meet so many interesting people, it’s always interesting to hear more about someone else’s life too!

What do you love about photography as a medium and its ability to encapsulate a time/mood/energy?
I like how much it can document and represent that period of time like nothing else can. I feel very lucky that I’m able to meet so many talented people and document them in that time in their life! It’s a pretty great job really.

What was your reaction to getting picked by Nike to collaborate for the React Element 55?
I was super excited by the idea of bringing a group of people together that are usually behind the camera. Bemi and Salwa are so great, both completely down to earth people who are extremely talented at what they do. The team on a shoot is always important, so when it comes together well and you’re able to put that into a campaign it’s exciting.

What do you think makes your work so disruptive and reactionary?
I am always looking for the moments where the subject I’m photographing feels most themselves and most comfortable. Sometimes that means just chatting and waiting for that moment where they’re caught slightly off guard. I never like photos to feel contrived, for me photography is a very natural process and it is collaborative. 

What was your starting point to designing your shoe?
I guess I’m mostly drawn to dark colours for shoes. When I’m on set it’s easier to wear dark shoes as I sometimes ruin white trainers within 2 weeks. I wanted an accent colour though so it felt different – I love the gold and that you can get a flash of it from certain angles. I always associate yellow or gold with Manchester because of the bee symbol, so it’s also inspired by that.

photographer Lauren Maccabee, stylist and journalist Bemi Shaw, and makeup artist Salwa Rahman for Nike React Element 55

Lauren Maccabee (R) with Bemi Shaw (L) and Salwa Rahman (M)

photographer Lauren Maccabee, stylist and journalist Bemi Shaw, and makeup artist Salwa Rahman for Nike React Element 55
Lauren Maccabee (R) with Bemi Shaw (L) and Salwa Rahman (M)

What did you want to convey with your shoe?
I wanted it to feel like something I could wear every day that still has an element of feeling different. 

What kind of person do you imagine wearing this shoe?
To be honest anyone – maybe even my mum and dad if they’re up for it? But most people I know wear Nike and the React Element 55 is such an original shape and design. I think if I’d gone with brighter colours it would have been more limiting though…

When do you feel most creative?
When I have a few days off and have time to think about personal projects/ideas. Or when I’m with a really great group of people – either on set or with my friends. 

Why do you think it’s important to nurture female creativity?
It is so important! I’ve worked mainly with female teams recently (sometimes out of coincidence, some out of my choice) and the energy is so good. Women creating with other women. I know and see (on Instagram) so many insanely talented people who I feel like are finally having their moment to have a platform for their voice. I think its an exciting time but we still have so much work to do. 

What would be your top tip for someone starting out trying to get into your industry?
Take loads of pictures (lots of them will be bad). Assist as much as you can. Annoying as it is you don’t get paid to do what you’re good at for a while in this industry – it sucks, but if you can somehow stick it out then hopefully the benefits will come. Meet other creative people you like for coffee, find your team of people to work with. 

What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever had?
Take more pictures. But I guess that seems like pretty basic advice.

What is it about London that gets you excited, and keeps your work energised?
I’ve only been in London for around 3 years, so in a lot of ways I feel like I’m still exploring and finding out new things. I think most of the time though its other people that inspire me – my friends, the people I work with or even just seeing a new part of the city for the first time. I guess because it’s so big I don’t feel like I could really get bored of it.

What’s next for you?
Last month was a bit crazy for me but I’m looking forward to some exciting projects coming out soon. I’m also working on a few personal projects at the moment so hopefully I’ll have time to invest properly in those too! 

Find out more about Nike React Element 55 here.

Introducing Nike React Element 55 campaign
Read our interview with Nike React Element 55 collaborator Bemi Shaw
Read our interview with Nike React Element 55 collaborator Salwa Rahman

NIKE REACT ELEMENT 55: LAUREN MACCABEE

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