“This year has been quite a year of discovery in terms of people seeing my work”, said Jack Davison at the end of 2015. With a year as fruitful as the one behind him, 2016 can only look bright for the self-taught London photographer. The last 12 months saw him amass a number of triumphs, from getting signed to Mini Title to shooting the cover of Avaunt’s second issue , to taking David Byrne’s portrait for the FT Weekend Magazine and closing the year with work featured in the pages and cover of The British Journal of Photography.
On top of this he contributed to Pylot, Re-Edition, and Garage, and still managed to keep producing beautiful personal work. “I also did a fashion story with my grandma [for Double ],” he says. “It was really fun to apply her to a fancy French fashion magazine that she doesn’t give a damn about. She hates the pictures but she really enjoyed it I think.”
His cover for Avaunt in particular sums up his intuitive and confident way of working. Asked simply to interpret the word adventure, he was essentially given carte blanche to produce the cover image, for which he took to The Fitzroy Lodge boxing club in south London to shoot an almost abstract portrait of a boxer on Polaroid.
“I think the really nice thing is it fits in quite well with the way I’ve learned to take photos,” Jack explains. “My background is kind of taking one picture and letting that go up as a standalone piece of work. It doesn’t necessarily have to fit into a grand story. That image can just be really strong on its own. That idea fed in really well with that Avaunt cover because I was only commissioned to do one image, and that’s got to say everything and nothing at the same time.”
As for the coming year, he’s particularly excited about a story he’s shot for The New York Times, due out in February, and is looking forward to keeping the ball rolling. “I think what’s really important to me is doing a wide range of things – so fashion stuff, portraits, the street photography I grew up doing. It’s very easy to get into a position where you’re known for doing one thing,” he says. "There are working relationships that have only just started that are going to be really exciting, stuff with The New York Times, and stuff with McQ, which is cool.”
If he could take anyone’s portrait in 2016, he says it would be Grayson Perry’s. “Something I was talking about with a couple of people recently is that photographers don’t really get commissioned to take the kind of portraits that they used to,” he explains. “Irving Penn or Richard Avedon got unrivalled access to do their portraits of someone notable or famous. Sometimes when you have to photograph someone in the public eye, it can be more difficult to take a picture that you consider part of your own personal work. I’ve kind of been in a good position, I got the chance to take a picture of David Byrne for the FT which was great. I did a picture of him and it felt like a really me picture.”
With his refreshing style of portraiture, an almost fine art approach, and personal work that rivals even his most impressive commissions, Jack’s success will only grow. “This year I just want to make sure I keep experimenting with things. I think it’s important to keep testing yourself,” he says. “I think we’ve set ourselves up quite well to have a good 2016.”