PhotoVoice is interviewing established photographers to gain a wider insight into the power of photography and the different approaches to ethical issues. This month, we interviewed award-winning photographer, Jackie King on her photography and passion for the medium.
Jackie King is one of the judges for the CLiKD #loveinlondon photography competition, which is supporting PhotoVoice. Celebrate the unity, diversity and solidarity of London and show us what Love means to you in the capital. Your photographs could be displayed on digital screens across London. Find out more and submit here.
Where did it all begin and why did you chose photography and not another medium?
Photography chose me! I studied Fashion Design at Brighton and after graduating moved to Ireland to work on movies in Dublin. I needed a change and hadn’t found what made me jump out of bed every morning until I got work on a feature film and that literally changed over night. I shared a portfolio of picture’s I’d taken and the next day was asked to be the stills photographer. I spent two amazing years in Dublin and from there I moved to America to study on a photography program as I felt my technical skill level had plateaued and if this was going to go any further I had to improve. What was supposed to be a nine month trip, ended up being two years. When I finished I wanted to be the next Annie Leibovitz, that hasn’t quite happened… yet… but I utilise all the skills I picked up working in Fashion in terms of curating a scene and attention to detail and you find as you go along that the experiences and skill base you’ve nurtured all come together and feed into what you’re doing.
Tell us a bit about your approach to photography.
I usually go into any situation quietly to access the different components with a neutral mindset. My approach then forms as a gut instinct. Some days I love and hate photography as a medium in equal measures because I get frustrated with myself (so I’m hating on myself more than photography) for taking longer to get the shot but once I remember it’s all part of the process and I have a system to ‘warm up’ then I properly begin. For instance, at a wedding I have to start with the details first, calmly taking a moment to find my vibe and then I’m off – same really on any job, the warm up shots I guess.
How do you decide if something is worthy of being captured?
Well, when I’m photographing weddings it’s a split second decision based on gut instinct and apparently I have a particular smile when I’ve gotten what I wanted or ‘nailed it’. Whether I’m commissioned by families or corporate clients, it’s the same approach which is to bring out and photograph the best version of someone. For personal projects I am more critical of what I’m looking at and I tend to focus on the urban environment. I’m fascinated by empty space and people-less places, the peace amongst chaos.
Is there a single image that defines you as a photographer?
There’s one I’ll always love which took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to create and which has its own story : ‘Crazy Lady’ was my winning entry for Photographer of The Year and way back in the day was my experimental approach to merging illustration and photography. I love the colour!
Can photography bring about positive social change?
Yes I believe it can, even if it starts with positively impacting one person that can create a ripple effect.
Has charity photography changed since you started?
Yes and it feels like the viewers receptibility has shifted too.
What is your approach to the ethics of photography?
“We are all fighting a battle you know nothing about” – be kind, we have no idea what is going on in someone’s life so on a interpersonal ethical level I always choose kindness in my approach to whomever I meet and have the privilege to photograph. For that moment you are literally ‘capturing’ their essence. We all have our own process for creating imagery, be honest about it, understanding and empathy go a long way.
What is your greatest achievement as a photographer?
Winning Portrait Photographer of The Year and as twee as this might sound, making a difference in people’s lives by recording a particular time or moment for them.
How important do you think equipment is?
Having an eye, a great lens and of course light is more important, don’t get bogged down with equipment.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?
Stay curious, align yourself with like minded groups or organisations, find a mentor or visit reviews, take on board advice but listen to yourself too. Be resilient, expect a roller coaster and learn how to ride it + learn your craft
Featured image: © Jackie King Lyndsey & David