Former Architect Shows Untold Beauty Inside America’s Textile Industry

With a background in architecture, photographer Chris Payne gives us a unique look at the beauty and order inside America’s textile industry. The series, titled Textiles, is a celebration of craftsmanship and small-scale manufacturing which is persevering despite all of the global competition around today.

His interest in how things are designed and constructed led him to make a connection between how buildings are made and how fabrics are created. “Textile fabrics are assembled from much smaller components like fiber, yarn, thread,” he tells us, “so there is an analogy to the architectural process and the way buildings are put together that makes sense to me. If I understand how something works, it becomes easier to photograph.

“My architectural training also helps with composition. If I can find an underlying geometry or rhythm within a subject, it generally makes for a more visually compelling image, one filled with beauty as well as information.”

“When I started, I knew very little about about the textile industry, let alone the clothing I wear every day,” Payne says. “And yet we touch and come into contact with these fabrics all the time, more than anything else really–so much so that we take them for granted. Learning how fabrics are made, where the materials come from, and the different manufacturing processes, was an invaluable learning experience. I also didn't realize how diverse the textile industry is. It's more than just clothing and apparel, and the modern industry of today is radically different from the traditional one of just a few decades ago. There are many new manufacturing processes and materials that I have yet to photograph, with applications that we wouldn't even consider to be ‘textiles’, so this is still very much a work in progress.”

Chris Payne’s website

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