Cecilie Harris is second out in our series about inspiring people. The Norwegian born photographer based in London has really created something of her own in this great city. She is the founder and editor in chief of the magazine Boys by Girls. A magazine exploring the beauty of the contemporary young male through the female lens, striking a balance between fashion, art and documentary resulting in honest and beautiful photography and great stories. We had the pleasure of working with Cecilie on our Shoreditch love story Lookbook for Andreas Ingeman watches. Her professionalism, achievements and interesting perspectives truly inspire us. Read on to learn more about this beautiful person.
How did you get the idea of Boys by Girls Magazine?
Over a coffee with a friend, discussing how we enjoyed shooting menswear, but that we didn't feel we were able to comfortable express our female interpretation of how we saw the contemporary young male. Menswear fashion is a very male orientated world. We also talked about how photography can sometimes be a lonely game. So the idea of the magazine was born.
What is it in your opinion that makes the magazine so unique and successful?
Boys by Girls Magazine explores the contemporary young male through the female lens, providing a unique mix of an authentic and documented approach, whilst mixing in a fashion element. By becoming "a fashion magazine with soul", this is a new way of presenting fashion. It also is a beautiful magazine showing the young male in beautiful imagery with a poetic element to it, and give female photographers a platform to show how they see the young male through their eyes.
Where do you find inspiration for a new issue of Boys by Girls Magazine?
I live in a creative bubble at the moment, living and breathing the magazine, so I am constantly searching for inspiration and people that inspire ideas. Inspiration comes from everything from music, film, poetry, personal experiences, people I meet and conversations I have. Through this project I meet so many inspiring people, and I love listening and learning. One conversation quickly turns into something that provides inspiration for the next step.
Do you have any bigger purpose or ambition with Boys by Girls Magazine?
I really feel like the magazine is creating its own path and bigger purpose as time goes. On the girl side, I am passionate about continuing to champion female photographers and their voice. On the other hand, the more I talk to the boys of today and what they are going through, how they experience the world, the more I feel that it is increasingly important to document this journey and tell their story beautifully. There is a lot of room to grow this project into something bigger than simply a magazine. I'd love to add a publishing arm one day, to allow all my female peers to express even more through beautifully photographed and designed books - to allow our talented boys to express themselves through art, words, music and imagery. The possibilities are endless.
You have an amazing magazine, and you encounter a lot of young males developing it, how would you describe the youth of today?
Of course everyone is different, and it’s hard to in a short paragraph generalize everyone into one statement. But some things I’ve learned from my conversations with boys is that today’s youth is more open-minded and accepting than previous generations. Some also find it harder to really find and define themselves, as they are so overexposed to a constant stream of information. It can be hard to take it all in and make sense of it all. I think this generation will find a way to deal with this chaos, and start simplifying somehow. Make their own rules or how to deal with the constant chatter they are exposed to every day.
What is it about this generation that fascinates you?
I like how open minded they are. The world is becoming smaller, more accepting of each other, as the young generation travel more and have instant access to anywhere in the world through the internet. They have instant knowledge at the tip of their fingers. Masculinity is changing and the previous black and white view of male versus female is blending together slowly. Boys are happier to be comfortable with their feminine sides, whether they are straight or gay. Although I still think the young men of today are a little lost, as girls have been fighting for their rights for years, I think these changes is slowly starting to happen. It’s starting to become more ok for boys to cry, for boys to express what they feel.
If you where to give these boys any advice, what would it be?
Keep listening to your inner voice - everything will be ok in the end.
Have you ever had a story, or met someone shooting, who has made a big impact on you as a person?
There have been a few muses along the way. One which turned into a personal three year documentary project I am working on at the moment, which hopefully one day will turn into a book. I also met one of my best friends through shooting, who constantly gives me strength to carry on.
Why did you become a photographer in the first place?
I grew up with photographers around me. My uncle is a photographer, and the women in my family loved photographing. It was only once I had been in London for a while, I realized this was actually a career path that I could do. Norway is a bit more traditional in it’s paths, and at the time I was studying it didn’t feel like a “safe” enough route to take in my life. Now I realize…. who needs safe?
What would you say define you as a photographer?
My ability to capture emotion and stories in images, and my need to be as authentic as possible in my approach. I think my natural curiosity in people, help build rapport with my subjects, and together we can create impactful images.
Is there one thing or characteristic the people you like shooting have in common?
Often the people I am drawn to shooting are still one the path of growing up. They are often still exploring who they are and who they want to be. I like the mix of innocence, curiosity, nervousness, bravery, anxiety, insecurity, courage and freedom represented in youth today and how this translates to images.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
The ability to inspire the people who read and take in the images of the magazine is my biggest fuel to continue taking images and run the magazine. Being able to talk to and really try to understand the young generation of boys today is so fascinating and interesting to me. I love listening to their stories, their struggles and their victories. Although some people pre-judge youth as lazy and non-caring - if you take time to talk to someone, to really listen to them - you'll find that people open up and honesty come to the surface. It’s a generation so full of passion and dreams, they want to be heard and they want to make a difference in the world, which I think is a beautiful thing.
What is the biggest difference being a photographer based in London instead of Norway?
The fashion industry in London is so much bigger than in Norway. Being a photographer in London who shoot fashion, you have access to amazing designers, models, stylists, groomers etc. London is such a creative hub and with London Collections: Men now being four days, this is one example of how much the menswear fashion industry is growing and buzzing in London right now.
What are you most proud of?
Coming from Stavanger in Norway, I am incredibly proud that I have gone down a completely new path to when I started my time in London, that I have been able to stay true to my dream of creating something new that can be shared with people. That I have been able to create a magazine that has a unique perspective, that inspires people and that looks really beautiful. I am proud that I can give a platform to champion women and their talents, and that I can share the stories of the contemporary young male in a beautiful way to anyone who is interested.
Do you have any advice for young aspiring photographers?
Explore the reasons why you want to take pictures, what kind of stories you want to tell and find your own photographic voice. Then take your camera with you and go out and play. A lot.
We asked Cecilie to pick out her 5 favorite photos and tell us why. Take a look.
There is something so exciting about capturing true emotion between two people and these two brothers; Callum (20) and Louis (16) was so much fun to work with. The day and atmosphere on set was made even more interesting by the continuous contributing stories from their dad from the sideline. Brotherhood brings so much competition, yet unspoken love, and it was so much fun to explore that between these two.
Asa is such an amazing actor. Most known for his role in "The boy in the striped pyjamas", he now plays the male lead in Tim Burton's upcoming movie "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children". I love this image from his cover story in Boys by Girls issue 10. My team and I thought it would be hilarious to put him in a pyjamas and let him loose in a field. Asa has such a great sense of humor, and he thought it was equally hilarious, and was up for the challenge before I had even finished the sentence. He made me laugh pretty much the whole day, and was so playful during the shoot and genuinely cared about creating a good series of images with me.
Robbie likes words. Robbie likes chicken. Robbie likes the moon. He was such a unique personality and his self humor about his upside down frown lips was hilarious. He created such interesting frames, and I in particularly love this image taken in his garden playing with apples on the ground. He played with apples on the ground for half an hour, speaking to them. That's just genius.
As my most recent muse, I have to put an image of Sam in my top faves. I am currently working on a book project with Sam, documenting his life as an illustrator. In our now third year, we are still capturing another year as he goes into work life, having graduated from uni. This image of Sam I adore, and was the cover of issue 8. He simply looks so effortlessly cool in it.
Jonah & Christian Lees
Actor twins. This one is surely self explanatory! Twins are just awesome to work with, and when you in addition have two super interesting and funny British actor talents, it's a clear winner. This shoot day was so much fun and the boys took on every outfit with such interest and created little roles for each image they created. This image, I love how it almost look like a mirror of itself.