"The Douglas Brothers created a style so memorable and touching that they progressed from being jobbing editorial photographers to their present status as guest-star photographic artists."
Since Hill and Adamson in the early days of the medium, the photographic double act has been uncommon, with competition usually outstripped by rivalry. Creative siblings are even rarer, yet the closeness of the Douglas brothers has proved a galvanising force, unifying their vision and investing their photographs with emotion. By relying on the simplest of means and zeroing in on the essence of their subjects, the Douglas Brothers created a style so memorable and touching that they progressed from being jobbing editorial photographers to their present status as guest-star photographic artists. That, combined with their movie-star good looks, prompted Annie Liebovitz to photograph them for the “Individuals of Style” advertising campaign in America. Since that crowning as pop-culture icons, the Douglas Brothers have eased into directing television commercials remarkable for their emotional resonance.
B&W – We have your portfolio in front of us, and the first thing we notice is how unslick your presentation is. Have you always shown your work in this way?
Stuart – It does look like a scrapbook, and the first people to see it were appalled. Initially, we were too busy to put much effort into a whole series of pukka prints, getting them laminated and putting the whole thing together. We would just bung it into the book. The more uptight art directors, the ones who wanted the pristine work and the advertising imagery just didn’t get it. But they wouldn’t have given us the jobs we wanted in the first place. It acted like an elimination process. We said “this represents us: we’re not slick advertising photographers”. So people said “OK, can you shoot this, but we don’t want to shoot in a standard way. Make it look like a Douglas brother picture.”Text – Karl-Peter Gottschalk