A Story Behind A Photograph by Filip Skiba

Sixth in the series of commissions for Develop at Home - a digital programme of articles, interviews and resources to help us stay connected, inspired and informed at this time of isolation - is Develop Ambassador Filip Skiba sharing a story behind his photograph Felix.

I was visiting Manchester for the first time and decided to message a few modelling agencies to see if they have had any local faces. That’s how I met Felix, 18, a new face for MiLK agency, who enjoys doing circus and acrobatics. He showed me around town, as well as his favourite spots to get vintage clothes.

Manchester felt like a compact version of London, but a lot slower within the energy that the city was giving off. We kept walking. I felt like a tourist. I never leave London.

I decided to scrap my initial idea of walking around the town and getting candid shots of Felix. Instead, we wondered on the outskirts of the city and came across a metal yellow fence which had the same tones as his top. It was just a gut feeling that I was following at the time. It also intrigued me more than being in the centre. Looking down on the roads and not being seen by pedestrians gave us space to create. The photograph was taken in 2019 after I finished college, not really knowing where or what to do next. But I knew one thing, I wanted to continue to take photographs.

Felix being skilled within the domain of acrobatics, we made a joke that the fence was his sporty catwalk and that he was on an episode of The Next Top Model. Wearing the chunky boots whilst having to walk and look down into the lens created huge moments of anxiety for me, but not so much for Felix. This felt weird because I was only there observing through my lens. This moment taught me that even as a photographer who is documenting an experience, can still feel the emotion of the sitter giving me a bigger sense of involvement during a situation.  

To this day, this image is on the front of my portfolio. It was a day of exploration of a new city, meeting a local and unwinding after a two-year grind at college. I’ve become fonder of having spontaneous meetings with models who I get to know within a short space of time. Although the aim of the photo shoot is to capture their best selves, I’m always keen to get to know them first to relate that back towards how I present the up and coming new faces of the UK.

- Filip Skiba