In this piece of writing, I am going to review an article from the latest issue of the British Journal of Photography. This particular issue is titled “Ones to watch” and is focused on new emerging Photography talent (in commercial and editorial practices).
The article I am reviewing is called “Ones to watch” and is written by Tom Johnson, with images by him also.
At first glance, the imagery in this article appears to be a very documentary styled, with a portrait of a young girl with striking shaven hair standing next to a boxing ring alongside.
Personally, I am very interested in Documentary Photography and after reading his article, I am now even more interested in Tom’s work. I think this is a very good skill in both his work and the way the article is presented. Just scanning through the journal, you wouldn’t necassarily expect the concept behind his work.
Knowing the theme of this issue of the journal and the fact that it is also the title for this article, gave me a preconceived impression that this article would be about an up and coming Photographer, however it doesn’t give you much of an indication of what his work is about. It gives you an opportunity to make an assumption before reading further.
The article is written by Tom and used both First and Third person styles of writing language. It gives a background about him as well as direct quotes. For example, the first few sentences say “I’m quite dyslexic and dyspraxic..” but then goes on to say “Johnson left school at 17”. This is a unique but intriguing way of writing and I believe adds more variety to the reading of this article.
Reading the article informed me of Johnson’s practice, its uniqueness and variety. He gives the reader a good review of his history and journey to where he is now. From leaving school, shooting local gigs and moving to London to where he is now signed to the agency ‘Mini Title’ and having his own studio in East London.
Through reading this article I was also given a new perspective on the use of Documentary Photography. Tom acclaims that is work is definitely about people but is about “fusing” together Documentary, Fashion and Portraiture. This is something I have not imagined or heard of before but really seems to work to give a rare form of fashion/ editorial image making. I love his take on his image making as he says “I think I found a way to create situations and environments, which you can’t really do in Documentary”. He aims to stage settings and events in the way often practiced in Fashion Portraiture whilst also making it seem real and natural like Documentary/ Street Photography.
Over all, I enjoyed reading this article. I love Tom’s story and how he went from leaving school at just 17 to becoming an established Photographer in the industry, working for many infuential titles (such as Buffalo Zine, Man about town and more). I also enjoyed having my eyes opened to a new way of image making and hope to practice this myself one day. However I would have loved to read more about the stories behind the actual images featured in the article. I have so many questions about them and one of the reasons I love Documentary Photography is hearing the concepts/ narratives. I am now following Tom on Instagram so I can keep up to date with his practice and progress and gain even more of an insight into his image making.