London Art Spot: Nigel Tufnell

A note: Just a quick word before I introduce Nigel. You may have noticed that I haven’t posted here in about a month besides that entry last week and the past few posts have been interviews. If you read Little Observationist, you’ll know I’ve had a bit of a busy and rough month! I had been travelling for a few weeks and then came back to London only to have emergency eye surgery two days later which has left me housebound for about three weeks. Needless to say, I have not been out and about in London for quite a while so I haven’t been able to create content for LLO. However, hopefully I am on the mend and will be back soon. In the meantime, I bring you an interview with one of my favourite London photographers, Nigel Tufnell!

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I’ve featured the wonderful portraits of London strangers by Nigel Tufnell on Little London Observationist many times in the past so I was thrilled when he agreed to an interview. A born and bred Londoner, participating in the 100 strangers photography project has given Nigel new insight into his city. He’s learned that good things can come from talking to strangers! Below, he tells us the story of how he started photographing strangers, one of his most memorable encounters and the camera and lens he uses to capture such stunning and natural images.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 12.46.31Photo: Yasmin on Castlebar Road, London

LLO: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
NT: 
I’m from London, born and bought up in West London. For as long as I can remember, I have loved London before I really knew why and without knowing it. Even as kid I knew there was something special about it. Driving along the A40 to the Marylebone Road there just seemed so many possibilities or getting off the tube at Oxford Circus or Ladbroke Grove.

I’ve always been passionate about photography, the idea of capturing a moment; that means something to me. My formal training is in furniture restoration, but I have earnt money in various guises over the years and in the last four or so years my photography work has extended and effectively taken over.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 12.48.20Photo: Ric on Kingley Street, London

LLO: You took on the 100 Strangers photography challenge and now you’re about halfway through your second set! Tell us a bit about why you got involved and how it’s changed the way you approach the city and your work?
NT: Before I was aware of the project, I saw a girl sitting outside a rundown shop near Regent Street drinking coffee and thought she would make an excellent photo, so I approached her and just asked if she would let me photograph her. She said yes! I put the photos on my first flickr account and she loved them, so I got in contact again and we went out and did a longer shoot. It was fascinating talking to her about her ambitions to become a doctor and her education from a state comprehensive to Imperial College, her background and her Iraqi heritage. All that from a simple photograph.

Because of this meeting I found the 100 strangers project, it was quite a natural process.

Street portraits are instant and they are real and I love that they are really immediate. The people I want to photograph could be anywhere; it’s just a case of keeping your eyes open. I want to take photographs where I have an involvement and this project has made me realise that even more because you can really talk to people. It becomes quite powerful. Listening is massively important and really taking in what people are saying because the communication between two strangers is quite unique.

It has just reinforced my view that there is fascination everywhere in London. Sometimes you go out and don’t see anyone to photograph or you get a few knock backs and other times when you aren’t expecting it, you get some great people. It’s full of surprises; as Arthur C Clarke once said, ‘who knows’. It’s vast and there will be times when it’s suffocating and unfortunately there are quite a few wankers, but you just have to deal with that.

During the first 100 strangers set I was obsessed with it. I’m less so now, but it has definitely influenced me to be a bit more positive towards people. You learn by doing this project, about how to get things right and quickly with your camera and by talking to people and hearing their stories. That process influences other things you do.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 12.51.09Photo: Pamela, Margaret Street, Fitzrovia, London

LLO: Do you remember the first time you approached a stranger for this project? What were you thinking? What did you say? What was their reaction?
NT: 
I approached two people and just told them about the project. I was going to make a new account for my 100 strangers and hadn’t even done that yet; I just wanted the pictures. Their reaction was positive. One said yes, one said no.  It was good having the 100 strangers project to talk about. It kind of gave me a sense of validity, but because I had approached someone before and the response was very positive, it felt normal.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 13.02.17Photo: Marwa on Peter Street Soho, London

LLO: Describe a typical encounter with a London stranger – what do you look for before you approach a person? What do you say to make them feel comfortable with you? How much time do you spend with them?
NT: 
Difficult to say really. I see different things in different people. Sometimes I see someone and I’m off. There is no thought. I just feel I want to photograph them. You have to weigh the situation and you don’t have too long to do that because people and situations are easily missed. People say never walk up behind someone, but if you are on a busy street it’s not a problem and needs must, there isn’t a science to it.

The shortest shoot was probably about two minutes and the longest was over an hour. It  varies massively.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 13.03.53Photo: Ruby on Brick Lane, East London

LLO: Tell us about one stranger that really stands out for you and why you remember them so vividly.
NT: 
There are many people that really stand out, but if pushed I would say a girl I met in Kingsland Road called Makada. She had had a very tough life and she and her twin sister had moved out of home at 15 due to a very difficult situation. They moved into a hostel in Camden, but there was no bitterness or even anger. She was at college and trying to do well for herself. It was just a very positive experience. We talked for over an hour and even though I have had similar length conversations and heard some amazing stories, both good and bad, hers was the first. Her openness and positivity touched me. It can be amazing how open people are talking to a stranger on the street. It was just a great experience to really have a decent conversation with someone who was a complete stranger; interestingly a lot of barriers are broken down.

Also all the people I have met up with again and photographed a second time have all been great!

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 13.04.51Photo: Abdul, Red Lion Street, Holborn London

LLO: What has this project taught you about yourself and the city around you? 
NT: In many ways, it has just reinforced my feelings. I love the place, but there are a lot of misperceptions about it and media cliques both good and bad. People do have time to talk and that communication is so important. It is not as cold as we are always being told. London can be but sometimes if you try, things can be very positive.

The city is always moving. The buildings are changing and there is a constant flow of people coming in and going out, experiencing London and hopefully adding to the city. To make it work, it has to keep changing and evolving. The people just can’t be pigeon-holed. You really don’t know what you are going to get when you start talking to strangers. While you have to be wary, very aware of the situation, the positivity makes that less of an issue and on the flip side of that, it’s great to get positive responses from people.

The disappointment has been that while I walk the streets taking photos the disparity between rich and poor (areas) is getting more and more evident. I also think the project has reinforced my dislike for things that are too staged, things like adverts and magazine shoots where everybody looks the same. People on the street look great. They have real style and elegance, but everyday there are visions of the ‘perfect looking person’ looking down or at us to prey on our insecurities.  The people I photographed weren’t prepared, but they had a certain belief that it was okay. I like the instant nature of that. These photographs aren’t manufactured; they are real and honest.

Social media is very big but I like the interaction, actually looking at people and talking to them in the real world.

It has taught me that you can be touched by people armed with a camera and a smile as long as you are willing to listen. It’s massively important to know your subject and if you have only just met somebody, you better start listening and then interacting to what is being said to you. I like to feel involved. I feel that every time I photograph somebody. It’s my way of breaking the prejudices forced upon us by social conditioning that says London is not for talking to strangers.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 13.05.58Photo: Tonisha, Hills Place just off Oxford Street, London

LLO: Let’s talk equipment – what camera do you use? Which is your favourite lenses for photographing people? How about a flash? Any post-processing?
NT: 
I’m currently using a Nikon d700 with either a Nikon 50mm 1.8 or a Tamron 24-85mm. I do a bit post processing but not much. I might enhance the colour or sharpness  a bit, but I basically keep it as it is in the original. I want to see reality in the portraits.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 13.07.32Photo: Mark, Frith Street, Soho London

LLO: Along with each photo, you tell the story of the person you’ve taken a picture of along with their favourite song or record. Why the music question? What has been the most interesting answer?
NT:
 I love music. I think it can be a great source of inspiration among other things. Everyone must have a favourite song or piece of music. It just helps to make people have a think while I try and get a few shots and then it leads onto other conversations. It is strange how some people who seem quite cool can like some really terrible music (my opinion obviously), but that’s just part of it. The most interesting answer was a man called GT whose favourite song was a song he’d written. He then proceeded to give me a copy of it.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 13.08.40Photo: Mina on Southampton Row, The Kingsway, Holborn

LLO: Have you ever had a negative reaction when approaching a stranger to photograph?
NT: 
A few iffy moments, but nothing too bad. It can be a negative when you have a few knock backs in a row, but fortunately that doesn’t happen much and I feel if that happens I must get someone before I head home. It doesn’t always happen though.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 13.10.12Photo: Cristina, Regents Canal, Hackney London

LLO: What’s your favourite London discovery? What’s special about it?
NT: 
The Sir John Soane museum in Lincoln Inn Fields is great. In 1806, he became Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy. He wanted his house and collection of paintings sculptures and artefacts to be preserved for the nation after his death. It’s not like a museum; it’s just a fascinating old house full of interest and it’s free!

Also, the Black Lion in Plaistow, an old coaching Inn about 600 years old and a real old fashioned East End pub. There is a boxing gymnasium upstairs that is home to West Ham Boys Club – a boxing club that produced Olympic medallist Terry Spinks. It serves great beer and Bobby Moore even used to drink there! A real top place.

Thanks Nigel!

Follow Nigel’s work on his Flickr stream: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stretch1000/ 

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London Art Spot: Penelope Koliopoulou

I first spotted Greek photographer Penelope Koliopoulou’s work in Completely London magazine. I looked twice when I found out she was the only person in her images.

Penny’s portfolio is lead by an obsession with taking self-portraits combined with a fascination with the way relationships function and couples interact. She uses her most convenient resource – herself – to represent both parts of many different couples. Most of her images depict the most mundane moments in the daily existence of a couple – watching TV, lounging in bed, chatting, eating. She hopes that we recognise our own relationships in her work. Do you see yourself in any of these scenes below? 

Read on to hear more about Penelope’s vision for this project, how she creates her images and the diary of an imaginary boyfriend she’s just started putting together – another project I’m sure will prove to be very interesting.

LLO: Where are you from originally, how long have you been in London and what brought you here?
PK:
I am from Athens, Greece and I’ve been leaving in London for 2 years now. I came here for my MA in Fashion and Film (LCF).

LLO: Tell us about your self portrait series. When and why did you begin this project?
PK:
At the university where I studied Fine Arts, I always did self portraits. This was my small obsession. I was experimenting a lot, trying either to disguise and play different roles, or picture myself and explore notions of identity, gender, intimacy, everyday life and through this to discover myself and find out who I am. In my final project, I wanted to picture couples in intimate moments and represent true moments of a relationship. The fact that I was going to “do” both parts of the couples came naturally. Moreover, my intention was to make a comment on how easily masculinity and femininity can be created – for example, how I can pass as a man only by turning my back to the camera. To show that both sexes carry masculine and feminine elements. Lastly, using the same person to do both parts of a couple could work as a metaphor for how a couple unites and we become one or see the reflection of ourselves in our partner.

LLO: How do you create the images?
PK:
First of all, I imagine a couple – their look, lifestyle, clothes – and then I think of a scene from their everyday life. According to these, I find a place that most suits the profile of my couple and choose clothes that I mostly take from my wardrobe or friends. I dress as one part of the couple and take a picture, then I dress as the other half, creating different ways of interacting between the two. In the end, I use Photoshop to put the two pictures together and create my couple.

LLO: From the Athens suburb where you were born to the madness of London, do you think the mundane moments couples experience differ?
PK:
It doesn’t have to do with where they live, it has to do with the couple. It may sound cheesy, but I believe in a couple’s chemistry. Either they live in London or in Greece. You see couples that are not really ‘compatible’ but they remain together for other reasons (insecurity, because it became a habit, or for practical reasons, such as children) and some others that are a perfect match. Relationships are hard. They need a lot of time, devotion, honesty and selflessness no matter class, sexuality, race, region.

LLO: What do you hope to communicate through your work?
PK:
I like to tell stories. I hope I tell stories that make people identify with my protagonists. What I wish is when someone sees one of my couples to think “I’ve been there. It was hard (or nice).”, to create feelings, to bring back memories and make them think about their relationships.

LLO: What has been your favourite scene to recreate so far?
PK:
Ha, my favourite scene was the couple having a private after party in the morning. Technically it could be a better picture, but as it was my very first so I excuse myself and also I believe I’ve managed to create the right atmosphere which is more important to me.

LLO: Tell us about another artist you know in London who is doing something worth talking about.
PK:
Zero-tau, a collective of mix media performance.

LLO: What are you working on now?
PK:
At the moment I am not taking any pictures for a personal project, but I’m working on some new ideas, like a diary of my relationship with an imaginative/fantastic boyfriend and also some more couples but from a different approach.

LLO: Best place in London for food and/or drinks?
PK:
My place, with good friends.

LLO: Favourite London discovery?
PK:
Kaos party.

Thanks Penny!

You can also find Penny here.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

London Art Spot: Alex Ellison

You probably recognise Alex’s name if you’ve been reading LLO for a while. I often photography because he has one of the most extensive collections of London’s street art that I’ve seen. It’s a hobby of his, to go out hunting for pieces that are newly created and photograph them before they disappear. He’s not an artist himself, but his knowledge of the street art scene and the artists who contribute their work to the walls of London is second to none. 

I had a chance to pick Alex’s brain about some of the best artists on the scene right now, the hottest places in London to go looking (without bumping up for a street art tour), and how he thinks the Olympics will change the graffiti and street art scene in the city.

All photos included were taken by Alex.

ROA - in progress
ROA in progress, East London

LLO: You have one of London’s best graffiti and street art photography collections on Flickr. Why the interest? Are you an artist yourself? Or an admirer?
AE: Thank you. No, I’m not a street artist myself, just a very devoted follower. Although I studied art at college I think I do a better job documenting it than I would creating street work myself. And besides, I’d feel too self-conscious painting in public! I was given a copy of Subway Art when I was younger and Banksy emerged soon after, and combined they began what escalated to a full-on obsession about five years ago. I started by mainly looking for Banksy’s work until I began to notice other artists’ work everywhere. This was before I was using the internet so I didn’t even know the names of any other street artists. Of course when I started I was shooting on film so there was a limit to how much I could photograph, but when I got my first digital camera I could start photographing everything I found. Of course now there’s so much work everywhere I’ve had to start being a lot more selective!

Isaac Cordal, East London

LLO: How often do you go hunting for new work?
AE: Generally once a week. Living outside London means I can usually only visit on Sundays so I have to cover an awful lot of ground in one day. I tend to spend the first half of each week sorting and editing the previous Sundays pictures, then the tail end of the week is more geared towards planning the next Sunday. I have many, many scraps of paper, lists of locations and pieces I haven’t found yet. So much new work goes up every week, it’s hard keeping on top of it all.

ATG – Elmo, Mighty Mo, Mr. P.

LLO: Who’s your favourite graffiti artist right now? Street artist? 
AE: That’s a tough one! It’s very hard to pick a favourite. Anyone following my Flickr page will know I’m particularly devoted to the Burning Candy crew, members past and present, especially Rowdy, Sweet Toof, Mighty Mo and Gold Peg (in no order of preference). I’m sure everyone in London must be familiar with the painted monkey faces and pegs on rooftops, and bright pink gums and teeth everywhere! I love the way that they do what is unquestionably graffiti – tags, drippy rooftop roller pieces, etc, and then they do the complete opposite indoors for galleries. I find it fascinating that someone who can produce quite beautiful, almost traditional, paintings can also go along a street doing what a lot of people consider “messy” tags.

Mighty Mo & Sweet Toof, Hackney Wick

I guess my favourite particular graffiti writers at the moment would have to include Masika, Owed, Neka, Temp32, Snoe, Vibes… Crews would include ATG, OPD, LB and 1T.

Owed LB / Diet PFB, West London

As for street artists my absolute favourite, although he doesn’t work in London that often, has to be Phlegm. He makes huge, mind-blowing, black and white murals, illustrations from another time and place. There’s no-one else working on his level at the moment, he just goes from strength to strength. Although you need to go to Sheffield to fully appreciate what he does, there are a few existing pieces in London, the largest being on Heneage St, off Brick Lane.

Phlegm
Phlegm, East London

I love Kid Acne’s work too, and Public Spirit, who does the multi-styled teardrop-shaped stickers, and Curly’s words of wisdom written on US postal labels you see stuck up everywhere.

Curly, Rivington Street, London EC2

And of course Malarky, the king of colourful shop shutters!

Malarky & Sweet Toof, Roman Road, East London

I’ve been trying to strike a balance between legal graffiti and street art with the illegal stuff, but with a lot of the art around Brick Lane in particular being permission-based it can often feel a bit too safe and sanitised. With the exception of the artists I’ve just mentioned I’ve been leaning a lot more towards illegal graffiti recently. I have a lot more respect for those that take sometimes insane risks to get their work up.

Public Spirit, East London

LLO: London’s hottest graffiti/street art hunting spots?
AE: The obvious ones are Shoreditch, Brick Lane and the entire surrounding areas, but while there’s always a reason to go there it has become a bit too saturated now. I prefer to go hunting away from the crowds. There’s lots to be found west, especially around Ladbroke Grove. There’s often good work all along the canal, from the west all the way to Hackney Wick. Some of my best finds this year have been around Camden and Kentish Town. And there’s some nice spots further east, and north, well off the beaten track. There’s always hidden treasures to be found around Hackney Wick and Bow. In truth it is everywhere, you just have to look. When you start really looking for stuff it becomes inescapable.

Tunes, Nychos, Vibes – West London

LLO: What do you think of all these street art tours that are popping up lately?
AE: I have a very low opinion of them I’m afraid! It wouldn’t be so bad if they actually knew what they were talking about. On the few occasions I’ve crossed paths with one they were coming out with complete tosh, and people actually pay for the experience! They’d do better learning online about who does what, and why and where, then go out exploring on their own. You don’t need to go on a tour.

Buytronick & Stinkfish, North London

LLO: How do you think the Olympics have or will change the graffiti/street art scene in East London?
AE: Good question. It’s been tough recently, seeing all the main London tracksides completely buffed, a lot of history gone forever, and a fair amount of street pieces painted over, but of course it does mean we now how many huge blank canvases. And with the authorities’ graffiti removal squads surely blowing their entire annual budget in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, anything which goes up afterwards should be safe from the buff for a while. In the long-term I don’t think the effect will be as bad as a lot of us had feared. I just hope Hackney Wick doesn’t become too sanitised.

Pablo Delgado, Hanbury Street, London E1

LLO: When you’re not photographing art, where’s your favourite place to take your camera? 
AE: I spend so much time photographing art that hardly anything else gets a look in anymore. When I get the chance though I do enjoy night-time photography, buildings and bridges, anything with nice illuminations, and I’ve got a thing about reflections recently. I like walking through the City at night when there’s few people around. I love the City churches and churchyards, where nothing has changed in hundreds of years. And I love any industrial wasteland, whether there’s graffiti there or not, and anywhere where there’s no people. Such places do exist in London!

The Globe Night shot of The Globe in Southwark, London

Thanks Alex!

You can also find Alex on Flickr.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

London Art Spot: Justin Sneddon

Justin Sneddon spends his working life exploring London’s streets as a taxi driver and a good chunk of his spare time as a exploring London’s faces as a photographer. He’s recently shed his inhibitions about approaching strangers in the street to photograph them for his growing collection of portraits and as a result, has been able to forge a greater connection with his subjects leading to more powerful images.

In his interview for London Art Spot, Justin talks about who and what inspired him to approach that first stranger, exactly what he said to him and the most negative reaction he’s received so far.  Scroll down and, between Justin’s stories, you’ll see some lovely work and a brave approach to street photography.

LLO:  Give us a bit of background info first. Where are you from and what do you do for a living?
JS: I am a London taxi driver. I grew up in Greenwich and now live in Bexleyheath, Kent.

LLO: How has your photography style changed and developed over the years?
JS: I don’t think it has changed, at least not in the style sense. I have always made an attempt to frame my shots properly, and where possible include some background or foreground detail. The reason I wanted to start getting closer and closer to my subjects was that the more I travelled, the more I saw the world becoming homogenised, thus making getting an unique photo from a particular destination very difficult. Basically it’s all just glass and concrete, no matter where you are. My first trip with my first digital SLR was Hong Kong, and I know it sounds utterly ridiculous, but I was expecting it to look like it did in the film Enter The Dragon. What I mean was I was looking forward to the low flying aircraft coming into land (the airport has been moved further away), rickshaws (gone), and the bustling Junks of Aberdeen Bay (now more a tourist attraction). Then what happens when you point your camera at someone abroad is they either pick up an object to hide their face, or hold their hand out for money.

LLO: When did you start taking street portraits?
JS: I have been doing street photography for a few years now, but it has always been in one of two forms.  The first was “from the hip”, which was putting a wide angle/standard lens on, setting the camera to servo, and taking photos anywhere but up against my face.  I would see someone that caught my eye, then employ various methods to avoid looking like I was taking a photo of them.  This way resulted in some nice candid shots, but I also lost a lot because they were out of focus, or cut parts of bodies off.

The second method was to use a telephoto lens 300/400mm, and take a photo while  maintaining  a  comfortable distance. The problem I have always had with these two methods is the anxiety beforehand, the funny looks I was about to get, and people looking annoyed that I was photographing them.

LLO: What influenced you to begin capturing strangers with your camera?
JS: A few months ago I picked up someone who was a friend of my someone in my family, and who was, how can I say, always extravagantly dressed – usually a leather trench coat, lots of piercings, and dark make-up. I told him about my photography methods, and he said disagreed with that approach, that if someone asked to take his picture, he would gladly let them.  I then heard about the street photographer Eric Kim on The Candid Frame podcast, and listened to his methods.  He actually, for most of his shots, asked people, and they, for the most part, agreed.  After getting my hands on a 50mm f1.4 lens last year, and seeing the stunning results using the shallow depth of field, I decided I wanted to take pictures of people with just their eye(s) in focus.  I preferred this because it meant the image doesn’t look flat due to a person’s whole head being pin sharp.  It also means that photos look like they were taken with an SLR, not a compact.  The final item that I needed, which arrived this week, was a battery grip for my DSLR.  First of all you don’t have to arch your arm right round when you need to turn the camera to portrait, but most importantly, when people see this monster of a camera I am carrying, they take you very seriously.  I remember reading an article about a pro who goes to big events, and he noted that the bigger & more impressive his camera looked (battery grips, flashes and brackets, big lenses), the more celebrities etc would want to to stop and allow themselves to be photographed.

LLO: How do you approach people?
JS: The decider was seeing a tweet that listed Eric Kim’s “102 things I have learned from street photography”, and one was to ask people if you can take their picture – they are usually always very  accommodating.

So off I headed for the Brick Lane area; I parked up just east of it (most places free on a Saturday), and headed down one of the many graffiti covered streets looking for my first victim, err, I mean, model.  My first was a real gem, a guy, maybe in his mid thirties, dressed pretty normally, but, he was adjusting his monocle!!  That was really rare, I had to get him, so I crossed the road and made sure I stopped about 10 feet in front of him; so as not to startle him.  I asked “excuse me, would you mind if I took your picture”, (holding my huge camera up for him to see) he replied “sure”, and the deed was done.  For the next hour and a half I wondered about, just asking this same question to people, and only 1 in 10 said “no thanks”.  I was asked a few times what it was for, and told them I was just a street photographer; this seemed to be enough of an answer for them all.  One thing I quickly realised that I needed to print up some business cards, as some people wanted to know where they could see their photo.  Roll on the next trip out.

LLO: Have you ever had a negative reaction from a subject? How did you (or would you) smooth over the situation?
JS: Yes, from a punk sitting on the canal bridge in Camden Town. I pointed my lens at him, he immediately clocked me and shouted “if you want to take my photo then I want money”. In that situation I just wondered off sheepishly. Hopefully now that I am asking people’s permission, I shouldn’t get any negative reactions.

LLO: Tell us about the most interesting Londoner you’ve had the pleasure of photographing so far.
JS: To be honest, I don’t really chat to the people that I photograph, other than asking them firstly to take their photo, and secondly to not step back as I want a full head shot. If I had to choose one, I would say the first I photographed with my new technique, which was the man with the monocle. Most of the other people that day looked like many other people I have seen around London – various lengths of facial hair, different styles (rockabilly, punk, hippies etc), different ethnicities – but why was this guy in his mid thirties wearing a monocle? I think maybe as I gain more confidence I will start asking people about their look, then I can add it in the description field on Flickr. Also, I have now printed up 1000 business cards to give people after I have photographed them. Maybe when they go on line to see their photo, they themselves may want to add something.

LLO: What do you hope to accomplish through this work?
JS: Why am I doing this? well I like to take pictures of anything that catches my eye, whether it’s a building or a bird, aircraft or a shark, but to be honest, they all become a bit stale after you have one or two photos of each.  You end up looking for that one “stunning” capture, which means you touch your shutter button less and less.  Not only is there always a different number of faces on this planet at any one time, but they change every fraction of a second depending on different circumstances – ageing, disease, emotion, make-up, pollution, location, time of day, lighting etc etc…  You can see whole stories in faces, and you can stare endlessly at one trying to imagine what’s going on in their minds and their lives.  Basically I can now see this being my chosen direction for the foreseeable future – to build a library of “faces”.

LLO: Where do you see your future as a photographer?
JS: I don’t want to become a photographer for a living, as every professional photographer I have ever met or read about, hardly ever lift their camera up for fun.  I am happy as a London Taxi driver, but wouldn’t mind my work being displayed in public – museums, galleries, shops – I don’t mind. One thing I did advertise myself as once was as a “personal travel photographer”. The idea being that someone, a couple, or a family, would hire me to travel with them, and record their trip through both pictures and video. This would then free them up to do what they want to do, and rest assured that all of their adventure would be recorded. Of course this would rely on them being relatively well off, as it would mean paying me not only a wage, but any transport, accommodation, and food costs. I created a website, but only got one enquiry in 2 years, so just let the website expire.

LLO: Which other London-based photographers do you most admire and why?
JS: I’ve always seen photographers being asked this question, and always dreading it being asked to me – because I don’t have any. I think is just down to I don’t spend much time scrolling through the internet looking at other people’s work. I have several other hobbies that take up much of my time. When it comes to my photography, I go out, take pictures for a few hours, spend an hour or so tweaking them before uploading to Flickr, then onto my other hobbies. I rely on suggestions from “Light Stalking”, “photojojo” and “petapixel” on Twitter. These bloggers put up links to cool stuff they’ve found, saving me the trouble, then I have quick scan.

Thanks Justin!

See more of Justin’s work, visit his Flickr page.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.