Collaboration (n): the action of working with someone to produce or create something.

One hot afternoon in Soho, London saw a collaboration that combined the talents of two creative lovers of leather to produce a set of stunning images.

Matt Spike is one of the UK’s top photographers who has a passion for leather and kink. He has an outstanding ability to capture the essence of what it means to be a leatherman and has been responsible for producing some of the most memorable images of our favourite leathermen; Nick Dawson is a well known figure in the leather community who has been the subject of some of the most iconic images in recent years. Matt and Nick have worked together before and the results are always stunning. This time, both men had come together with the intention to produce an image that would support Nick in his candidacy for this year’s Mr Leather Europe competition, to be held in Helsinki on 27th August.

The first step in producing art of any kind is to have an idea of what you want to convey in the final image. Nick and Matt had already discussed ideas for the shoot and both wanted to portray Nick as both approachable and strong – two of the qualities Nick values in leathermen. As for the outfit, Nick had commissioned a bespoke shirt from Mister B Amsterdam that complemented his XXX Leather Title Holder’s sash. Along with the traditional trappings of a leatherman – Muir cap, tall boots, jeans, gloves and cuffs – the outfit was sorted. Now the guys needed a location.

The streets of Soho provide many interesting backgrounds and locations for photographers with a diverse range of architectural styles and building types. With camera in hand, Matt, Nick and stylist Chris took to the streets in search of suitable locations for the shoot. Matt takes his inspiration from what he sees around him and often works freestyle – reacting to situations and instinct. By seeing the subject (in this case Nick) in the setting, Matt can instantly see if the location is going to work or not. The shapes and forms offered by various structures and the range of textures on display gave Matt many creative possibilities.

The first location provided a heavily textured stone wall and cobbled street which complemented Nick’s smooth leathers and shiny boots. A confident stance and low angle conveyed the sense of power both were looking for, with the stone features of the setting adding to the sense of strength. The alleyway setting with its barred windows and dirty brickwork behind Nick subtly reinforced the undertones of an edgy subculture.

Location number two provided a different colour palette, with warm red bricks and a classic dark brown wooden door which gave a pleasing frame around our handsome leatherman. In order to get the best angle, Matt isn’t afraid to get down and dirty, often lying on the ground shooting up towards guys in order to get the best results.

The same location gave rise to the third set of images with stone and wood being replaced by metal and concrete. The background of apartment windows divided by a huge rusty metal pillar gave these shots an urban, contemporary feel which offset Nick’s black leathers perfectly. By placing an iconic leatherman in such a setting, Matt created an image that contained visually strong elements (the metal pillar, the grid pattern of the windows and concrete paving) that worked with Nick’s pose and outfit resulting in a more affable image of a leatherman.

Finally, the soft yellow limestone pillars of a church gave Matt and Nick an opportunity to capture a leatherman in a setting that gave an interesting contrast to the black leather while, at the same time, giving a softer feel to the image. This balance between strong and approachable is what Nick and Matt were looking to achieve, and these warmer tones were able to give the images a sense of both these characteristics.

The resulting images have already been a hit on the internet and have been used as flyers for Nick’s entry to Mr Leather Europe 2016. By working together with a common vision, Matt and Nick have once again shown that they both have a vision for how to portray the contemporary leathermen. Well done guys!

To see more of Matt Spike’s work or to contact him, visit his website: www.mattspikephoto.com

You can see examples of his work on our Pinterest board: uk.pinterest.com/LeatherWest/art-matt-spike