What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours.
Throughout 2012, talented Hucknall teenager Craig Thomas captured that difference on camera, his photographic flair for the abstract, obscure and fascinating catching the eye of the world’s most influential fashion magazine, Italian Vogue.
Every day of last year, the gifted 16-year-old set himself a challenge: to take an interesting photograph which visually reflected his mood and state of mind. But what he never visualised is the mass international exposure one of his shots would receive.
His year began with an abstract image of Craig swimming in a glass coffee pot and ended with a spooky-looking pair of hands protruding from a wicker basket. However, it was a picture in between, snapped on the back lawn of his family home in Hucknall in May, which catapulted him into the spotlight.
The coveted Vogue homepage featured Craig’s genius ‘Take Me Away’ photograph, which shows the teenager lying on his lawn with a floating orange balloon tied to his wrist, supposedly attempting to entice him away.
Craig edited the thought-provoking picture in Photoshop post-shot, downloading the balloon and altering the texture before adding it to his 365 Project.
“The picture was meant as kind of a warning to myself,” said Craig, who has loved photography since first being able to hold a camera. “I wanted to remind myself that if I wanted something, I had to work at it, not be lazy and not expect things to be handed to me on a silver platter. It’s like, this balloon isn’t going to take me where I want to be, so I need to work hard and make things happen for myself.”
The picture was made ‘photo of the day’ of the day on Vogue’s website, which also featured a portfolio of additional images from Craig’s ambitious 365 Project.
“It was totally surreal,” said Craig, a former pupil at Hucknall’s National Church of England Academy. “I submitted my pictures then went on the website the next day to look at something else, and there it was. I was totally amazed. Then all the media started contacting me and it was even more surreal!
“It’s great when anyone appreciates your work, but Vogue? I never expected that. My friends were all really pleased for me and kept saying, ‘hey, you’d better still talk to us when you’re famous!”
Other stand-out shots from Craig’s dynamic collection include; leaving school, the day his braces were removed from his teeth, starting college, meeting new people and memorable moments.
Craig’s favourite shot of them all is a Matrix-feel black and white photo of him being drenched in water from two angles. There was no Photoshop wizardry this time, just his mum and dad with a bucket each!
“I hate some pictures, I love some,” said Craig. “But they’ve all got something unique about them. Some kind of special meaning that only each individual picture can hold.”
Impressed and inspired by similar projects from other photographers, Craig said that seeing some ‘absolutely incredible work’ led to a burning urge to create and produce his own. But despite its glittering rewards, living life through a lens has been tough at times.
“Some days, particularly in the summer holidays when I was at home every day, I felt void of ideas and inspiration and every picture I produced felt inadequate,” he said. “But I have a vivid imagination and found fresh motivation by remembering why I started it and how I felt on day one.” Craig said his 365 Project allowed him to produce some of his best ever work whilst defining his style and identity as a photographer. Naturally mum Julie, dad Trevor and sister Ali, 24, are immensely proud.
Julie said: “He’s done incredibly well so far, so fingers crossed that will continue as he’s very talented and works really hard. It has been exciting for us all, going with him to photo studios and radio stations. Ali is very proud of Craig, she’s always on Facebook or Twitter saying ‘that’s my brother!’”
Published in nine countries, style-bible Vogue is regarded as the world’s most influential fashion magazine. Now student Craig, who is taking four A-levels including photography at NCN High Pavement Sixth Form Academy, is determined to build on his early success and achieve his dream of becoming a professional photographer.
“I’d love to be a fashion photographer,” he said. “My ultimate dream would be to work for one of the big magazines like Vogue or Vanity Fair. That would be awesome.”