Fit, real, grounded and obtainable, there’s somethin, somethin about a regular hometown girl that is undeniably hot. Meet the babes of Colne, courtesy of i-D photographer Nik Hartley.
“These girls wouldn’t necessarily be scouted by Storm to appear on the front cover of Vogue. But they’re fit. The lads at school would all want to go out with them.” Trucking around his hometown territories of east Lancs for a week, staying at his parents’ house, Nik Hartley captured a cast of good looking local girls on film. Taking his final edit of portraits and filling the pages of a bespoke, hand-printed tabloid newspaper, Nik named his first zine The Fittest Girls In Colne and distributed the one off publication about the underbelly of London. i-D flicked through the pages of this latest project to find out where true beauty lies and how he attempts to represent it accurately, using his trusty Hassleblad.
What are your perceptions of beauty? It’s an individual thing, I don’t think there’s any formula for it particularly. It’s a difficult thing to capture in a photograph because what makes somebody beautiful isn’t necessarily just their physical being, there’s more to it. The twinkle in somebody’s eye or a smile or an aspect of their personality… Everything combined together makes somebody beautiful, so that’s why it’s a challenge to take photos of somebody and make them look beautiful because it’s easier to take photographs of people and make them not look beautiful. Photographers take hundreds of frames of the biggest models who are seen as being the most beautiful women in the world, but they’re all trying to find that one picture where it all collides together, and the girl looks really great in that one picture. It’s no different for anybody else, you know you’re trying to capture all the different aspects of it, I don’t think it is just about appearance.
If you find someone beautiful, does that make it harder or easier to take their picture? It’s easier than the extreme opposite of that case, that can be challenging. If you really don’t find someone attractive, it’s hard to make them look attractive. But all that sounds pretty shallow!
Who’s the fittest girl you’ve ever taken a picture of? Cheryl Cole, I think.
What specific qualities do you look for in a model when you’re casting? Stories always sort of come out of mood boards and references and everything so somebody whose look is relevant to whatever look we’re going for, if it’s based on a era or a specific reference. Then apart from that, just individuality really. Good skin is a bonus.
What did the girls make of the finished paper? I haven’t given them the hard copies yet I literally only got it back about two weeks ago and I’m going up north next weekend so I’ve made big prints of their individual photographs as well for each of them. I’m going to package it up with a few copies of the paper and go and deliver it next weekend. I’ve sent the images via email and I think they like them. One of the girls was a bit unhappy with her introduction. She said she felt that it was a bit condescending, like it made her sound like a lager lout, which wasn’t my intention, but yeah I think they like it. I’ve made them all look good, I mean they’re all nice looking girls so I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t be happy with the actual photographs.
Text: Milly McMahon