ModWear5 - E17 - Duncan James June 22 2016

ModWear 5 with Duncan James – Episode 17

We recently saw some cracking Black and White (and some colour) pictures being re-tweeted on our Twitter feed.  We went to the source and stumbled across: @Spaceinvader65 – It also led us to finding an article on the London Economic.  (Link at the bottom of the post)  The pictures are all part of a project called: “Mad Mods and a Camera (MMAAC)”  

We wanted to find out more so spoke with the person behind the lens and behind the twitter handle – Duncan James.  

Above and following Images from Buckingham Palace Ridout and Brighton.

1) We know you as @Spaceinvader65 on Twitter, but for those who haven't yet connected with you, what do you do?  

I’m an Art Director for a London agency based in Farringdon. I’ve always had an interest in photography and my job has involved working with a range of photographers over the years in producing creative campaigns, brochures, videos.

What that’s actually allowed me to do is more important – I want to document the Mod movement in photography because there isn’t a contemporary view of it to inspire the new generation of Mods or to celebrate what Mods are all about in this century. The Mods are still going strong, and hopefully the book will still be here long after I’m gone.

2) How did the Mad Mods and a Camera Project come about?

It was Remembrance Sunday, 8th November 2015. I was heading back home with the Sunday papers and as I passed a local café I saw that a number of Mods with their scooters had congregated outside. By the time I got home I had decided I was going to go back and photograph them. Don’t ask me why but I knew I had to go back.

 Bear in mind I hadn’t picked up a camera in years, so I was a bit nervous, to say the least! Outside the café I asked if I could maybe take a few photographs, not knowing what kind of answer I’d get, if any. Then Smiler, as he’s known, replied, “Of course mate, where do you want us?”

 So a huge thank you to Mad Mods and Englishmen. Little did they know they truly started the Mad Mods and a Camera project.

3) What attracts you to Mod Culture and what in your opinion creates a great image / what is it that you’re specifically looking for when shooting?

 I’ve always loved the look, the music (book collection), and especially the array of lights and mirrors on the Vespas and Lambrettas. For me it’s a timeless lifestyle that touches the new generation and the old. From a photographic point of view nothing much has really been done to capture what’s happening today with the Mod scene, and that’s why I thought to do a photographic book.

Ultimately I want to capture those real moments, whether at Rideouts, club meetings or social events, and try to document the scene as it stands now so that people can look back on it in years to come.

 In terms of what makes a great picture, Alfred Eisenstaedt said, “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” That really sums up how I’ve approached the project. At the Buckingham Palace Rideout, a Mod tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Keep spreading the love, Duncan,” so in my own small way I’m doing the right thing!

In a way I’m taking that amazing book Mod: A very British phenomenon on to the next level and showing the journey of those young Mods right up to present day. It’s a kind of ‘what happened next’ thing.

What I look for in a shot is that moment in time that completely captures the scene. When I do that, Mods themselves say that it’s spot on. And if I can reflect that strength and impact over the years, regardless of how often the shots are viewed, I’ll be a very happy man.

4) By attending the meets and ride outs, what have you found out about Mods / scooter enthusiasts? 

It’s got to be punctuality. When a Rideout has to meet or move on, it’s always dead on time! Nothing beats watching a gang of Mods move off at once. It’s such a buzz.

And everything in between has been a total pleasure. I’ve met true friends and proudly photographed them, but just as importantly they really back me in what I’m doing with MMAAC. I’ll always be grateful to them.

I discovered as well that people will always give you time and a warm hello, just like the guys from Mad Mods and Englishmen when I first rolled up with my camera on that Remembrance Sunday. I’m happy to say that very first pic is on the header banner on their Facebook page!

Everyone has been so welcoming and accommodating that it’s an honour for me to be associated with such a cool scene.


5) What do you plan to do with the images and what do you have lined up in the near future?

First of all I want to say a big thank you to you guys at Modwear for asking me about the project. Secondly, I’d like to thank Joe Mellor at the London Economic - you’ve been a real star in giving me a true window in publishing my photography. And I’m sorry for missing every deadline!

But back to the question. I’m a bit reluctant to give away too much just yet, but the plan is to launch a website, then the book, and hold an exhibition later in the year to show the journey I’ve been on. So if you’re willing to have me back later in the year to expand on the book and exhibition, it would be my pleasure. No doubt I’ll have a lot more tales to tell!


We will of course be keeping in touch with Duncan, you can as well by connecting with him on Twitter:  where you also be able to see more images.

You can see the London Economic article we mentioned here:

There was also a follow up article which can found here: