Inside this issue
I’m a London based photographer with a career spanning over 30 years - I’ve taken portraits of personalities ranging from Steven Hawking to Jonny Depp, shot numerous campaigns for brands like Adidas and Sony, and have won several AOP and D&AD awards. Alongside this work I have continually produced personal imagery, some of which you can see here.
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
We’ve interviewed a couple of people before who photograph at night (Alex Bamford and Jasper Goodall), and this was my prompt to approach Justin, but there is illumination here too. It can be a privilege to open an avenue of enquiry into a photographer’s practice, and Justin tells me it’s the first time he’s put it into words. He has had a distinguished career as a portrait and lifestyle photographer, and there are insights into that, but it’s the way that he writes about his personal photography that is most absorbing. So make a cuppa and settle down; Justin has put a lot into this, and I think you will find plenty to take away.
Would you like to start by telling readers a little about yourself – where you grew up, what your early interests were, and what you went on to do?
I grew up in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. My family had been part of the town’s history in that they had set up industries that had seen the town thrive in the 19th and 20th Centuries. We were big fish in a small pond, silver spooners. At 8 I was dispatched to a boys' Catholic boarding school. Single-sex boarding schools are weird institutions - on the surface everything seems normal and proper and well-regulated - and the private life of the school, which was very Lord of the Flies? Mayhem. It was cold, it was harsh, and at times quite terrifying for a little one and it was home for 8 months of the year. Its saving grace was that it was surrounded by magnificent nature everywhere you looked, situated on the moors in the Vale of Pickering, in North Yorkshire. Waking up to snow on the dormitory floors that blew in through the obligatorily open windows “toughened me up”. Fortunately, I was able bodied, so I survived; I could hurl cricket balls, run like hell on the rugger pitch and across fields and fight my way out of any argument. The head described me as an inky little boy. I was a bit odd too, while the other boys bounced around to T Rex’s Metal Guru, I craved only Beethoven sonatas.