Many budding photographers get their start thanks to the helping hand of a family member who shares their passion. Whether it’s a hand-me-down camera or a tutorial on the difference between shutter speed and aperture, it’s often the first step towards what becomes a career. For London-based Jack Johnstone, it was the trips he took with his uncle Andy which introduced him to the medium.
“We used to drive all over when I was younger, especially around north Wales,” Jack tells It’s Nice That. “We used to find ways into old quarries, factories, asylums etc and he showed me how to first use a camera.” Although his practice has developed over the years, his images still retain “a strong leaning towards landscapes and incidentals”, picked up during those early experiences with a camera.
Jack’s portfolio consists of both personal and commissioned work, but the natural world remains a consistent motif across the two. Pristine portraits shot in the studio sit beside beautiful landscapes, the two feeling altogether appropriate in tandem. As well as the natural landscape itself, Jack’s explorative introduction to the medium still remains as, even in said studio portraits, a sense of spontaneity and chance encounters is always present.
“I love the seasons and am always ready for the next,” he responds when questioned about his references, “they all have an unpredictable, but unique set of characteristics.” Beyond the natural, architecture – both the grand and the mundane – fascinates him, “as do many elements of styling and use of colour.” Whatever his focus, Jack’s images are dreamy, so soft that at times they appear other-worldly. Landscapes appear to quiet and devoid of people that they seem too good to be true, while his portraits capture truly intimate moments between him and his sitter.
It’s this concept of colour which ultimately filters through to everything Jack shoots. “I have quite an ambiguous pattern of concepts in my mind which are really tough to put down on paper, but they centre around the use of colour and shadow,” he explains. These interests are clear when looking at Jack’s work, his images often awash with sunny glows or accompanied by spots of colours, cast by panes of glass, for example.
Whether capturing someone’s portrait or a desolate beach, his focus is always on the subject at hand. “Certainly with people, I like to convey a true moment where both parties feel at ease. Without digging too deep, it’s pretty special to take someone’s portrait and I think I always recognise that.”
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.