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April 15

Photographer In Focus: John Angerson

By Ella Miista
Today we are talking to John Angerson. A photographer travelling the world as he documents his surroundings, his work is fascinating to say the least. The Bristol born, London based photographer has quite the portfolio. He’s shot portraits David Cameron and The Black Eyed Peas, and possibly everyone in between. He’s documented astronauts training for space walks at the Kennedy Space Centre. Curious about the ecological meltdown slowly killing the fishing industry, he travelled across four continents. Capturing the lives of fishermen, 'Sustain' was born. He’s spent a year working on a unique spin on portraying the homeless - to create a sense of what rough sleeping is like, he photographed the common locations for the homeless to spend their nights. Even without the traditional approach of picturing worn down faces he manages to evoke an eerie feeling. His current project is the ‘English Journey' inspired by JB Priestley's book of the same name. Taking from the subtitle of the book, it sets out to be a 'rambling but truthful account of what one man saw and heard and felt and thought during a journey through England.' He mentions how English towns have Americanised and become so reliant on technology. Our obsession with celebrity culture and even the lesser freedom to take photos comes up. Sounds a bit dark? Not completely. He adds that he met so many open-hearted people that made him believe - just like Priestly 80 years ago - that we all work towards a common goal without forgetting we depend on one another. His work speaks of change but Angerson doesn't pass judgement. He shows things the way they are but even if they are grim, his work never gives the feel of hopelessness. Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 16.11.06 Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 16.11.28 How did you first become involved with photography? I bought a Praktica nova 1B from a classified ad listed at the back of my local newspaper when I was 14 years old - I had saved up £20 as I knew photography was something I wanted to explore. The gentleman who I bought it from was an 80 year old retired professional portrait photographer and I used to return weekly by bicycle to his house to process the film and get an appraisal of what I had shot. It was a charming introduction to photography. Is photography truth or fiction? I think photography can be whatever you want it to be and in some cases it can be a combination of ‘truth’ and fiction. I use photography to record and document what is around me and never use any manipulation on the images. What's your stand on film or digital photography? The most part of my career has been spent shooting film so I still have a very close connection to it and I shoot exclusively film on all of my personal projects, simply because I understand how it reacts to light and the process comes naturally to me. I use a Linhof 5x4 field camera. It takes a single sheet of film and every function is operated manually. This slows down the whole process which in turn makes me think long and hard about what is important in the composition and final image. Is there a preferred subject to your work? My main focus is in the way people and communities shape, shift and change a landscape over a period of time. Are there any other artists that have inspired your work? Photographer Bill Brandt has always been an inspiration - he had the ability to produce work that was quiet, poetic and simple at a time when documentary photography was still in its infancy. Another influence is the artist David Hockney. I spent 10 years in his home town of Bradford, Yorkshire and lived within walking distance of his 1853 gallery - this led me to admire his playful yet sometimes dismissive relationship with photography. The monograph 'English Journey' is to be published in December. You can follow his website at www.johnangerson.com or blog at www.theblueoblique.com for more information. If you'd like to join his mailing list, email him with 'subscribe' in the subject line! Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 16.07.00 Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 16.10.07 Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 16.12.16
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