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James Perolls

Work / Photography

Photographer James Perolls’ soft, romantic dreamscapes

You may already be familiar with James Perolls’ whimsical, sun-kissed photographs. Having worked with big names like iD, Dazed and American Apparel, the young photographer has already accumulated a vast portfolio of accomplished work. But a career in photography hasn’t always been on the horizon for James. The Brighton-born photographer spent years working in a corporate job as a pricing strategist, taking pictures of his friends and family as a side-hobby. His decision to move to Berlin three years ago was what changed James’ course. With no formal training and little experience, James developed his expert photographic eye through trial and error.

Soft colours and carefully considered arrangements make up James’ body of work, who snaps romantic figures in immaculate outfits wandering around the English countryside. His unimposing photographic style and unassuming angles is what lends subtlety to James’s images and allows him to produce dreamscapes of eerie – and undeniably stylish – characters. Although the Berlin-based artist only turned his focus on photography three years ago, he hasn’t put his camera down since.

Your images are filled with intriguing characters. Why do you photograph people?
The subtlest body language and the micro-expressions on someone’s face can dictate the entire mood of a photograph. If there’s any sign of apprehension or uncertainty it can make an image look forced and uncomfortable, so it’s very important for me to understand the other person’s personality. Whether I’m creating an honest portrait or depicting an embodied character for an editorial story, I try to ensure that they feel comfortable and confident. This results in a more authentic, natural image. Everyone reacts differently in front of the camera, which makes each shoot a unique challenge.

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James Perolls

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James Perolls

How has your style changed since you first started?
I have always wanted to capture photographic stories filled with fictitious characters. But when I first started out, I was too shy about my own ideas so I held back and focused entirely on portraiture instead. When I moved to Berlin I was filled with a newfound confidence. I stopped worrying about what others thought and started creating the sort of work I’d always wanted to make. I’m extremely grateful to have collaborated with some incredible stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists and models, all of which play a vital role in bringing the projects together. I couldn’t do it without them.

How would you describe your current work?
My current editorial work portrays an imaginary world populated by adventurous and explorative individuals. I hope my work resonates with the viewer and that they can identify with all the narratives I create. Innocence and magic permeate my photographs, which also have slightly darker or more humorous undertones. I often work with underlying messages that stem from personal emotions, childhood memories and my own feelings towards life.

How do you decide on your compositions?
It’s mostly instinctive. I assess the lighting and various angles and ensure that every element in the frame is there for a reason. Dealing with hours of rain or a whole day of overcast can force me to think differently about the way I’m composing a shot. I find that allowing myself to take my time and think carefully about each shot pays off. There’s no point rushing anything. Shooting on film also helps me to slow down a bit. I try to nail the shot in the first few frames rather than blasting through multiple rolls of film and hoping for the best.

Has your colourblindness impacted your photography?
I suffer from a form of colourblindness called Severe Deuteranopia, which essentially limits the range of colour I am able to see. Everything is basically quite dull. My brain also finds it difficult to differentiate between colours. I can’t tell the difference between greens, yellows, oranges, reds and browns or between blues, purples, pinks and greys. I have been colourblind my whole life, so I don’t know any different. I suppose my colourblindness has helped me create my own aesthetic photographic style based on how I see things.

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James Perolls

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James Perolls