British fashion photographer Miles Aldridge on the people behind the blank expressions

COLOUR pops violently from the images of British fashion photographer Miles Aldridge. It’s a world as bright and inhospitable as a cartoon, where sex and pain jar against the quotidian and where living subjects take on the half-blank, half-piercing stares of mannequins. There’s plenty going on behind the dead-eyed looks, though, says the photographer. “Some people look at my work and say, ‘oh the women are very blank’. Well, that’s true, but I think moments of apparent blankness — when we feel like we’re blank or when we look blank — are often due to the fact that we’re thinking intensely or deeply about our lives. They’re pictures of humans not mannequins.”

So what are they thinking? “What I’m trying to convey is not that these people are vacuous and empty because culture is so appalling and damaging – it’s more complicated than that. They’re troubled, wounded, and confused, questioning who they are now they have everything they want.”

Born in London in 1964, Aldridge studied illustration at Central St Martins with the aim of following in the footsteps of his father (Alan Aldridge, illustrator and designer of The Beatles’ and The Rolling Stones’ album art), but ended up directing music videos. Film has been a strong influence throughout his career as a photographer. He cites Hitchcock, Fellini, Godard and, most of all, David Lynch as important influences. His lifelong admiration of Lynch culminated with him shooting the film director for L’Uomo Vogue. The portrait is electrifying, with its Blue Velvet-style smoky glamour. The director said of him, “Miles sees a colour coordinated, graphically pure, hard-edged reality.”

Miles Aldridge: I Only Want You to Love Me is at Somerset House from 10 July to 29 September. Words by Alex Dymoke.