Toby Amies--the Lost interview



Lost and Frowned is postively giddy with excitement knowing that they can bring you this interview with Brighton man-about-town Toby Amies. He is a photographer, beloved international TV star, musician, nattily dressed gentleman, DJ, vegetarian, and filmmaker. His previous accomplishments and titles include: champagne anarchist, Curator of the Museum of Unfinished Projects, inventor of Autonarcissism, and sworn and eternal enemy of The Robot Of Pop. He has been published in Careless Talk Costs Lives, id, Dazed and Confused magazines and the Burmese Cat Club Calendar, 2003. He is not to be confused with that wanker Toby Young that got fired from Vanity Fair and wrote a book about it. Recently, we did some trans-Atlantic emailing to get his A's to our Q's. Remarkably, no translation was needed.


Lost and Frowned: Can photographs be reality?

Toby Amies: Reality is the aggregate of experience someone said once, somewhere. Cameras are machines for expressing imagination much more than they are impartial recorders of that which is. The photographer and audience [eyedience?] make so many decisions about the final image that they can't really be viewed as objective or objectively. So no. But sometimes nearly. Yes, if 'art is the lie that tells the truth.' What's the thing you see in the yes of Picasso in his last self portrait? FEAR. So what did he know anyway? That we want to know, that is. I'll stop.


L & F: How do cameras break ?

It is through the fault of the manufacturer in every instance and has nothing to do with a cavalier attitude of the artist to material goods. German ones seem to take the most punishment.

L & F: Where is a good place to take pictures?

Somewhere where you've got a good idea of what might happen, when. Or rather, somewhere you've got a good chance of catching a surprise, with it still feeling and looking like one--if you like those kind of pictures, that is.


L & F: Have you seen Eyes of Laura Mars ?

Yes and I've had a peek at the fingers of Phil Uranus. Sorry. It's hard to find a film about photographers which doesn't have a strong smell of creepiness about it--normally involving attractive women and murder. Blow Up and Peeping Tom, for example.

L & F: What's the first thing a photographer must learn?

That without light they are nothing.


L & F: What is too dark?

Making the innocent sad.

L & F: What do you collect?

Loyal friends, jokes, good shoes, German glass, electric shock machines, pictures of eyes and hot sauces.


L & F: What subjects do you consider to be a waste of film?

Things that are for sale.

L & F: What's the difference between art and obscenity?

The honesty, integrity and necessity of the statement that lies behind either, as viewed by the artist, assuming they have not forced others to view their work.


L & F: What are "the plastic arts?"

They are the moves and sounds employed by the members of the radical "Mickey Mouse Club" movement of the 1990's. Or is it something to do with touching and feeling?


L & F: What is the most dangerous photo you've ever taken?

I had my film taken from me by police in Cannes becuase I took a picture of a model whose image was the property of a company [!] and then a year later filmed the same police force kicking a man in the ribs as they carried him into a police van. Generally I am too much of a pussy when taking pictures to take any dangerous ones.

L & F: Why aren't photographs round?

Because they are taken by squares.


L & F: What is the worst way to die?

Hated and alone for no good reason.

L & F: Let's say you're walking around London, and you have one exposure left on your last roll of film...Suddenly, across the street you see several members of the Royal Family tumble out of a pub, entangled in a drunken brawl...Simultaneously, a brightly lit flying disk catches your attention as it zips across the sky in a zigzag pattern, and hovers for a moment directly above you. At that same moment, you notice Michael Jackson running by on fire...What do you do?


I hit the ground and squeeze everything in with my wide angle lens, describing the essence of our place and meaning in the universe in one perfect shot, defining love and banishing hate through the geometrically and aesthetically perfect composition of line and form conspiring together in the unique but eternal essence of everything at once; or possibly I faff and fiddle to the point where everything has passed me by and end up with a shot of a pub against a nice blue sky, slightly underexposed.

L & F: Do you ever photograph food?

Only from the inside.


L & F: How close is the apocalypse?

From an amateur perspective, I'd say it was about three-and-a-half inches away, sometimes closer, sometimes further by an inch or so. You'd definitely want a motor drive to shoot it, probably velvia for the saturation; and using a 35 mm lens on a 35 mm camera I'd go for an f stop of 5.6 where most lenses perform best. After all, the end of the world is definitely a shot you'd want for posterity, if there was some. I wouldn't go digital on that one. Unless it was fashion or advertising and then the client likes to see what you're getting for them.


L & F: What kind of light do you like the best?

Dawn is the best, and then the bit just after the sun goes down. I used to like the gold of sunset but it's not what it was. Then there's that in the eyes of my beloved, but I also find the greenish cast of neon on human skin appealing. Daylight is best, though. But actually it's more the absence of light, the shadows that really describe things, a bit like cold being the absence of heat. Or something. It's great though, light. Naturally diffused is magic but then sparse and harsh is too.


Are machines better photographers than humans?

Machines are better at everything than humans except fucking up in a fleetingly lovable way. No.

L & F: What is your favorite artistic movement?

The way she walked towards me.

L & F: What would you like to do tomorrow?

Be even more content and live even more free.

Click here to see the previous Lost and Frowned Interviews

Return to Main