new genuary: introducing tom johnson
Another year, another fresh batch of exciting young talent. Throughout the month of January we will be introducing the photographers set to define 2017. Capturing the world around them and interpreting it through the prism of their own experiences...
Tom Johnson, 25
Tell me a bit about yourself and where you grew up?
I grew up in a tiny countryside village, but I've lived in London for about seven years now.
How did you get into photography?
I can't draw or paint and I'm pretty awful at writing. When I was at school, I picked up a camera and would shoot gigs I went to and would photograph people I met along the way. I soon discovered it was a great way of meeting and connecting with interesting and inspiring people.
What is it about the medium that appeals most?
People. Out of a simple interaction with another person you can learn so much. If you want to learn about a city, a place, a feeling — I don't think there's any better way. When I get a camera in my hands I feel like it's an excuse to interact with people and go to places I wouldn't normally go.
How and where did you learn your craft?
I'm generally self-taught but did do a few terms of a degree and found it wasn't for me. I assisted for a little while, but I've had a hands-on approach and have learned a lot from my mistakes. I think you need to shoot whenever you can and not be afraid to put your work in front of as many people as possible.
Is a degree necessary to pursue a career in photography?
I think it depends on how you work, learn, and take things in. Photography at university wasn't for me but I think one day I want to go back and study something completely different, as I think this can make you look at things from another perspective.
Who or what inspires you?
I'm inspired by the people I meet when I'm out and about — I build stories around them. Casting is a crucial part of my work. I tend to look at a lot of documentary work for inspiration although I also look at painting, cinema, other photographers, and artists.
How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
I want to merge the boundaries of fashion, documentary, and portraiture. I find an honesty with documentary that is not always found in fashion photography. Equally in fashion you can create situations that you otherwise wouldn't be able to with documentary. I think it's great to be able to do both because that way they influence and resonate with with each other.
What's been your career highlight so far?
I was very happy with a recent cover shoot at the end of last year for M Le Monde. My favorite body of work of mine is a project with Charlotte James, Merthyr Rising, which we self-published.
What are you most excited about for 2017?
Getting started on lots of new assignments!
Who is the photographer whose work you most admire?
Alec Soth or Richard Avedon. I really love their approach and sensitivity to their subjects.
Where in the world would you most like to photograph?
Where do you go to feel creatively inspired?
Somewhere with a little bit of space and fresh air. I love to get out of London whenever I can. I'm so lucky to live here and it's one of my favorite cities, but I think it's good to have a break every now and again.
Photography Tom Johnson