From Skinheads to Fashion: British Photographer Gavin Watson Discusses His Career - Feature Shoot

As a young teen from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, British photographer Gavin Watson captured the insular life of the skinhead scene in 1980’s England. Famous for his two books on skinhead life, Skins and Skins and Punks, Watson later ventured into the b

I photographed it because I was a coward — I’ve never asked a stranger if I could take their photograph. I was safe with my friends. That’s why I was a skinhead — because I felt safe, and safe to photograph them. My thoughts at the time about being a professional photographer was doing weddings or whatever! (Laughs) It wasn’t until someone other than my mates saw them and said ‘fucking hell!’”


The images he’s collected for books like Skins & Punks and Raving ‘89 have shown how the smiling, glowering, gurning faces of British youth culture have stretched themselves across decades



Three years ago Vice Editor Andy Capper brought Gavin Watson out of self-imposed exile and uncovered hundreds of unpublished photos. The pair collaborated to produce a new book called Skins & Punks – Lost Archives 1978–1985, which we’re proud to say has now been released.

Check it out here

Gavin Watson's photographs of UK Skinheads

From Simon Garfield’s piece, “Getting Under Their Skins,” on UK skinheads, in the Observer:

‘I was so intense about being a skinhead, to me it was final,’ says Gavin Watson, a former skinhead from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. ‘Anybody who grew their hair for work or their girlfriend was severely mentally impaired. I would be downtown and see an older skin growing his hair for some reason or another, I would feel very disappointed. I could not understand how one could ever not be a skinhead once the step had been taken.’

Watson, who is 41, is a more reliable witness than most. On the floor of his Brighton flat is a large black case containing a few hundred photographs. ‘There are many, many more,’ he says. ‘I’ve got 5,000 printed and 10,000 in all.’ The living room windows are open with a view of the sea, and Watson is wearing an Adidas woollen cap and loose-fitting black work-out clothes. He is muscular, tattooed, and illustrates his speech with such animated, large hands that you think he may be wrestling an invisible animal. He calls his black case The Box of Death, and he goes through his photos with a mixture of delight and dread. ‘That’s John… that’s Lee… he went mad… he went off the rails on heroin. That’s Duncan. He died when a PA [an amplifier] fell on him.’

The story is Here. And more importantly, the photos are Here.