Producing something without the feeling of constraints and external restrictions is, I believe, a step towards discovering your own creativity.
View Jon’s portfolio at Fotoblur.
Jon, please introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Jon Downs, born in Sheffield, England in the early 60’s. My late Dad worked with computers. My Mum managed a library until she retired; she now enjoys painting in her spare time. I currently live with my wife and two lovely teenage daughters in Milton Keynes, which is a modern town famous for its shopping centre, traffic roundabouts, and concrete cows (honestly!).
How did you first become interested in photography?
From an early age I was, and still am, interested in music - both playing and listening. However, around 2009/2010 I decided it was time to branch out and find new ways of expressing myself artistically. Over the months leading up to this decision I had become increasingly aware of the sheer amount of photographic talent in photo sharing communities on the web; these photographers and communities inspired me to start taking photographs. I then started posting my own work online and with the feedback I received, began to refine my photographic and post production skills.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I must confess that, even to me, my photographic style seems a tad eclectic and quite varied. My stylistic preference is towards clean, uncluttered and minimal images with strong lines, patterns, or mood. I have a love for unusual composition, strong graphical and geometric elements, and abstract shapes. I often use blur and/or overexposure to add to the simplicity of an image - this serves to reduce an image to its core components and removes detritus. With simplicity comes impact.
What kind of ideas do you think you communicate through your photos?
While I appreciate photography which has a strong message, I consider myself artistically apolitical and try to keep my photos pure. My aim with my photography is to offer a new perspective on the world as opposed to making a point. I’d rather make a photo with a bit of mood, a little pathos, or humour. At the end of the day we live in a beautiful place and I like to try and draw some of that beauty out.
What are your thoughts on creativity?
As photographers we are all creative. Taking a photo creates an image, an act of creativity in itself. However, there has to be more to it. Producing something without the feeling of constraints and external restrictions (real or perceived) is, I believe, a step towards discovering your own creativity.
What do you look for in a subject or scene before you decide to press the shutter button?
Sometimes I have ‘pre-canned’ titles for photos in my head. For instance the title ‘we have an opening’ is about two years older than the photo itself. So, in this case, I had the idea of one window in an office building and then searched for the chance to get that photo. As it happens, that photo was taken within a mile or so of where I live in Milton Keynes.
In your photography, what are your greatest sources of inspiration?
Like my music before it, I find my photography almost meditative. There is something cathartic and freeing about being able to produce a piece of art, essentially producing something from nothing. It helps me relax but at the same time it is creative and productive.
Who do you think has had the greatest influence on you as an artist?
With regard to music, my favourite artists are Bill Nelson, Wire and Autechre; the latter has particularly influenced my photography style in that it is ambient, stripped down and a little non-conformist. I love the works of Rothko, Dali, Van Gogh, and Miro, although it is difficult for me to limit just to these. Photographically, I adore the work of Storm Thorgerson, Anton Corbijn, and Brian Griffin; these come from my love of music, as they are all photographers that have contributed to the music industry.
What advice do you have for people who are just beginning photography?
First, and I can’t recommend this strongly enough, always carry a camera with you, even if it is just your mobile phone with a camera in it. I tend to also carry a compact camera around with me for zoom capability. Next, just get out there and take photos. You would be surprised as to how many good photographic opportunities arise just by getting out there and taking photos. Lastly, take lots of shots from subtly different angles to experiment with different compositions. You can spend time later looking through the various shots to find the one that jumps out at you. Consider just looking at small thumbnails first, rather than the full photos - often the contrast or composition will jump out even from the smallest image.