Portrait Gallery: Blue Gold
London-based filmmaker and photographer John Turner is no stranger to denim. He directed “In Search of Blue Gold,” the 2013 documentary about denim hunters searching for old and rare jeans in mines, abandoned homes and vintage warehouses in the US. Turner has shot the street style images for The Vintage Showroom’s series of Worn books. And in April 2019 he traveled to Amsterdam to shoot the Kingpins Amsterdam show for us in his signature documentary style.
Knowing the denim industry is a photogenic bunch, Turner brought his Mamiya RB67 and shot a series of medium format film portraits at the show. Some of our favorite shots from that series are here on these pages.
We recently sat down with Turner to talk photography, denim and the jeans that got away.
Your first foray into denim was shooting a documentary about a couple of denim hunters on an expedition in the American west. It doesn’t get more awesome than that for denimheads.
It was absolutely insane and brilliant. I was a collector myself, I bought lots of vintage – including denim – but I wasn’t “in” the denim [community]. Denim is an insular scene, so it was quite the introduction.
I bet! What makes denim people interesting to shoot?
They’re often fanatical collectors – just a chromosome away from being trainspotters. They’re deep-rooted geeks obsessed with details, but because it’s denim, they’re elevated to a more stylish plane. It’s a wonderful clash of opposites.
You were a collector yourself. What’s your favorite denim in your collection?
I had a vast collection of vintage – then I freaked out and sold it all and now I’m really angry. But, my favorite denim to buy was a vintage JC Penney denim jacket. It was a one-pocket [style] based on the Type I Levi’s jacket. The denim was cheaper but I loved the fade on them. They had an amazing look. At one point I had 8 or 9 of them.
You can see more of John’s work on Instagram: @itdontmeannothin