Get ‘Noodled’ with James Pecis

Didn’t think hairdressing could help marine conservation? Think again. James Pecis chats to us about how his new charitable photographic project, ‘Noodled’, came to be…


Inspired by the beauty of the sea, ‘Noodled’ is a series of black and white portraits – featuring hair styled by James – that have been paired with vibrant colour images of water in motion.

The limited edition hardcover book is published by Accidentalism and is raising funds for Mission Blue, an oceanic conservation charity.

“(Creative director) Kimberley Norcott and I are always scheming and coming up with ideas for creative projects. This idea took shape while on holiday at the beach after a long (surfing) session in the ocean. We sat there exhausted and talked through ideas.  She was pushing to do a book which would connect elements found in nature that can also can be found in beauty, and we found that the movements of hair and water had a natural connection as they both bend and shape similarly. It even gave us the name for the book – ‘Noodled’ is slang for tired arms.

“We approached (ocean photographer) Ben Bugden first. Studying his photos helped me start to plan out ideas for the hair and we knew we wanted to work with Paul (Wetherell) right from the beginning as we love his beautiful, poetic portraits. We then contacted Shelley Durkan for the casting and we decided that London would be the best place to cast and shoot. Kim and I were very specific about casting interesting, unique and youthful modelling talent and London is great for that.

“Each model was very special. For some of them, it was their first ever photoshoot and they’d taken trains to the studio with their parents. Everyone was eager and proud to be involved with a project with a cause behind it.

“There was a lot of planning that went into the different styles, but like water, hair moves organically and it was about finding the right movement for each model. The final pairing of the photos took place at a beach house in Costa Rica. All photos from Ben and Paul were printed out on 1/4 pages and taped across a wall. We spent days pairing up the right images and laying it out.

“Seeing the images now makes me appreciate how individual we all are, how we are all finding our way. Nature affects us all directly and indirectly – it may put you in the right mental state to focus or it may help you see things in a different way. Most importantly it connects us with something bigger than ourselves and that inspires me in many ways. The ocean speaks to me primarily because it brings me true happiness to be in it.

“Everyone who collaborated on ‘Noodled’ wanted to support ocean preservation as it is something that means a lot to us. If you spend any time in the ocean, you know that it is the life-force of the earth and it is in extreme danger. Mission Blue was founded by Silvia Earl, one of the world’s leading marine biologists, who I find hugely inspiring. She encourages people to use their own talents to support causes they want to get involved with and Mission Blue has been very supportive of this project.

“Creativity speaks in many ways and, I feel, why not use it to do something positive? Challenging times encourage creative passion and the world needs our help right now, so this is the time to use your skills for something you believe in, whether it be through expression, support or simply talking about the issues. There are a million causes out there and it is a very turbulent time. We can all find something which speaks to us, and through this project, I have learned that this type of work is more rewarding than any other.

“Personally, I hope to get involved with as much charitable work as possible in the future. I want to start a campaign to make plastic bags and styrofoam illegal. We cannot stop now – our choices are everything. There is a spread at the back of the book with simple suggestions and facts about what any person can do. Any small change in people’s habits can make a difference.”

Concept, art direction and book design: Kimberley Norcott
Hair: James Pecis
Make-up: Athena Paginton
Portrait photography: Paul Wetherell
Ocean photography: Ben Bugden
Casting: Shelley Durkan