Introducing 1854’s Fast Track Vol. 2 winners: Tom Marshak, Caitlin Chescoe, Alexander Komenda

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1854’s FastTrack programme promotes unsigned talent in the commercial sphere. Here, three of this year’s winners discuss the practices, including their attention to the everyday, the honesty of community, and the playfulness of the camera

Tom Marshak originally worked on a fishing boat, yet found “the fish too quiet.” He left the maritime industry in 2004, to study his lifelong passion for photography at Hadassah College, Jerusalem. Now, a decade later, the Israeli photographer has relocated to London, and moved into the commercial world. “I relocated to England after receiving my Global Talent Visa,” he explains. “I have had to start all over again, but this time, the sky’s the limit.”

Marshak is one of the 18 photographers selected for 1854’s Fast Track programme. Now in its second edition, the photographers were selected by a global jury to represent the best unsigned talent working in the industry today. The cohort will be championed amongst talent representation organisations, advertisement agencies and brands, and will showcase their work in a special booth at LE BOOK Connections Europe, as well as through 1854’s own global network.

© Tom Marshak.

Marshak has worked on the project for some 10 years, and is still going. Titled A Diary, it exemplifies his style. Since 2011, Marshak has documented his life, by regularly uploading images to a chronological feed on his website. “The project is made of my memories, and blends humour, vulnerability, social criticism and empathy,” he says. “I want all these feelings to crash into each other, offering my take on everyday situations.”

Marshak applies this style to his commercial work, drawing on his experiences to deliver new commissions. “My ambition is to find the right people to work with, and reflect my documentary style into the fashion world,” he explains. 

© Tom Marshak.

Another Fast Track selectee is Caitlin Chescoe, a documentary and portrait photographer based in London. Chescoe stresses the importance of real human connections in her work, as she documents life on both a personal and communal level. Projects such as Freemasonry and Female Guernsey Open Water Swimmers both track the everyday lives of communities, as the photographer connects with the subjects in order to deliver more insightful work. “Creating a portrait is a two-way thing,” she explains. “I want to create a relaxed environment, one built on research, context, and understanding.”

As well as these personal projects, Chescoe works within the commercial sector, fighting to change what photography can achieve. She has worked with both Material Magazine and Marie Claire Taiwan, creating portraits of young women. “The image is a powerful tool,” she explains. “We see [images] every day, all day. I want to achieve a realistic representation of people, – especially women  within the commercial sphere. I want to reflect a real society,” she adds. “Brands have a huge responsibility in leading the change in photography. I have the opportunity to shoot with a more female-focused, natural aesthetic, and this can give real people a platform to share their stories. That is my ambition.”

© Caitlin Chescoe.

Similarly to Checoe, Helsinki-based photographer Alexander Komenda understands the importance of collaboration in photography. When shooting portraits, the artist prefers to “start with dinner,” get to know the subject, and make sure that they have fun. “For me, collaboration is about the ongoing conversation, the place where all great things begin,” he explains. Working in documentary, Komenda employs a “childlike” style, always making sure that playfulness and spontaneity are at the forefront of his images. “I want to present all these different moods and layers, a limitless search for the unexpected, the odd, and the surreal,” he adds. Komenda’s projects search for the “glitches” in his surroundings; his images display a comfortable displacement. For Komenda, oddity is at the heart of documentary. 

© Alexander Komenda.

“When I apply this spontaneity to my commercial work, I want to weave my documentary aesthetics into the creative brief,” he explains. Komenda worked with the Canadian fashion brand École de Pensée, creating a lookbook based on his own ethos of informality – something increasingly popular in the fashion editorial world. “My personal work is always a starting point, and it leads me to find a style that works with commissions,” he adds. Through this unrehearsed nature, each image exists within the fleeting moment, an approach that keeps him on his toes. “Simply put, there is no formula,” he explains.

Isaac Huxtable

Isaac Huxtable joined the British Journal of Photography in October 2020, where he is currently the Editorial Assistant. Prior to this, he studied a BA in History of Art at the Courtauld Instititue of Art, London.