Jacob Charles Wilson

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Coming of age on the British coast: Sun, sex and scraps

for Huck Magazine
A girl's leg wrapped in fishnet tights draped over the shimmering pleather seat of a car.

It's sometimes hard to remember that all artists start out somewhere, everyone has the work they'd rather forget, or that they come to value only in hindsight. Iain McKell is known best for his photographs of skinhead gangs, Madonna, and Kate Moss that graced the pages of i-D, The Face, and Vogue, but his earliest work was made as a teenager on the beaches and in the discotheques of Weymouth. Four decades later, these photographs are collected together in Private Reality, published by Dewi Lewis. I talked to McKell about what he learnt on the job and how he felt returning to these pictures after so many years.

Private Reality doesn't set out to create a vision of The Great British Seaside; McKell isn't transfixed by knotted handkerchiefs and 99s. Instead he tells a deeply personal story of the wandering eye of a teenage boy finding a new way of seeing the world. Looking back, he reminisces on "becoming invisible" behind the camera, capturing with honesty the intimate, soulful aspects of an exuberant youth.