Gavin Watson was born in 1965 in London and grew up in High Wycome, Buckhinghamshire. Watson started photography at the early age of 14 and photographed his friends and, notably, his brother and muse, Neville. His subjects were part of a uniquely multicultural, working-class skinhead subculture. Watson left school when he was 16 and became a darkroom assistant at Camera Press. He is best known for his first photography book, Skins, which showcased most of his early photos. He followed Skins with two other photography books, Skins and Punks and Raving “89”. He has influenced several famed photographers such as Juergen Teller and Ryan McGinley.
Watson has shot for Dr Martens, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Universal Music, Vice, and several other major publications and companies. He prefers to use film over digital, is inspired by what is in front of him, and claims to take photos the same way he did when first venturing into photography. His photography displays an intimate relationship between photographer and subject, where, rather than acting as a silent observer, Watson, instead, is just as enmeshed in the scene as the subjects he photographs. We are invited and welcomed into this world through Watson’s unrepentant and raw portrayal of the skinhead scene in the 1970s and 80s.
Text by Perwana Nazif
Images courtesy of Gavin Watson