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  /  Fashion   /  Gavin Watson. British Subculture Photographer

Gavin Watson. British Subculture Photographer

Symond. Skinhead Trafalgar Square 1980. Gavin Watson

“What makes Gavin’s photos so special is that when you look at them, there’s clearly trust from the subject towards the photographer so it feels like you’re in the photo rather than just observing’.”

— Shane Meadows


Gavin Watson was born in London in 1965 and grew up on a council estate in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. He bought a Hanimex camera from Woolworths in his early teens and began to take photographs. Upon leaving school at the age of sixteen, Watson moved back to London and became a darkroom assistant at Camera Press. He continued to hang out and photograph his  group of skinhead friends in High Wycombe.

The ‘Wycombe Skins’ were part of the working-class skinhead subculture brought together by a love of ska music and fashion. Although skinhead style had become associated with the right-wing extremism of political groups like the National Front in the 1970s, Watson’s photographs document a time and place where the subculture was racially mixed and inclusive. His photographs were published in the books Skins (1994) and Skins and Punks (2008), and the director Shane Meadows cited them as an inspiration for his film This is England (2006)

Skinheads Jumping. micklefield Estate. Gavin Watson
Skinheads at West Kensington Tube Station. Gavin Watson
Skinheads at Dingwalls Camden Town. London 1988. Gavin Watson
Wycombe skinheads. The Anchor 1987. Gavin Watson
Ealing and Wycombe skinheads London 1984. Gavin Watson
Skinheads and Rudeboys High wycombe. Gavin Watson
Skinheads High Wycombe. Gavin Watson
Shaun and Kev. skinheads and Rudeboys High Wycombe. Gavin Watson

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