In this article we’re delving into images of the National Bowls Championship, as photographed by Jonathan Taylor. We’ll find out a little about Jonathan along the way as well no doubt!
Thanks for spending some time talking to us about your series Jonathan. To start us off can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Firstly, many thanks for the opportunity to be featured on the UPSP website.
I was born in Stoke on Trent UK and at the age of five my family went to live in Dubai in the Middle East. After 6 glorious years in Dubai, my family returned to Stoke on Trent when I was at high school age, which was a real shock to the system! After studying at university in Leicester UK, living in London for several years and extensive travel to South Africa, Malaysia and Thailand, I am now a father of two children, living back in Stoke on Trent, travelling around the country working as a site auditor in the telecommunications industry.
How did you find photography?
It was the B&W photographs Anton Corbijn took for the sleeve work of U2’s album The Joshua Tree in 1987 that first really introduced me to photography. The imagery in the albums sleeve work really opened my eyes to the creative process of photography. It was then at college in the early 1990’s I chose photography as a subject to study. I had to fill my time with a certain amount of hours of study, so I selected photography as a means of filling my time table. I was a short time into my time at college that I realised what a fantastic world in photography I had discovered. It was here I was introduced to the works of Bresson and Brandt and as a result, I mainly took photographs of people on the street, which at the time was classed as documentary photography. I remember the thrill of first working in the darkroom watching my image slowly appear in the tray of developer. It was a magical process. I then went on to study photography and design at University.
Dubai… Cool… Its interesting. I have been having some conversations with a good friend about transient people in photography. I moved around a lot when I was young, and it sounds like you have travelled a lot. Might not be something you have thought about before, but would be interesting to hear your thoughts.
Good question. Myself personally, at a young age I was introduced to an alternative childhood and upbringing to one that I would never have experienced had I stayed living in the UK . Living in Dubai , I was exposed to a very different culture and alternative way of life. Before settling and starting a family, I lived in various locations and travelled extensively. With the experience you get from sampling different cultures, the exposure to unfamiliar environments and varying civilizations I think it is inevitable you have a different perception and outlook and view the world in more detail.
So you started with film like many. Do you still shoot any film, and I am pretty sure that you’re mainly digital these days, so what was the trigger that transitioned you to digital?
I first started shooting on a Canon compact film camera that belonged to my Mother. My first SLR was a Nikon FE. I used Kodak colour film and Ilford HP5. I also used Kodak Kodachrome E6 film for my travels. This film gave really nice results when cross processed. After a prolonged absence from photography, on my return I bought a Nikon D80 but now I use a Ricoh GR, which I love and for me is the perfect tool for street photography. Shooting film gives the image a certain quality and aesthetic you won’t get from digital, but it does have financial implications that shooting digital doesn’t! Digital suits my needs as access to the images is instantaneous which living a busy life suits me.
I know you’re showing us some images from a series you have taken at the national bowling championships. Tell us a little about it.
The series of images was taken at the National Bowling Championships in August 2014 in Leamington Spa. My family had the opportunity to house sit for some relatives of mine whilst they were away on holiday. We went to a park which was a short walk from the house where we were staying and we stumbled across the event. Using ice cream as a bribery to keep my children happy, I wandered around the event with my GR in hand. The quintessential Britishness of the event was quite wonderful and urge to photograph was instantaneous. What really struck me was how the aging spectators were sat on chairs facing the various bowling greens even though no bowling was taking place. There were participants proudly parading their pin badge medals on their jacket lapels from previous victories, there was lots of shuffling of plastic and folding chairs to different bowling greens and cups of tea and rain coats a plenty. These were all the things that became the beautiful elements of the event to photograph.
One of the things that struck me about the series is the colour combinations and contrasts. The funny thing is the colours sort of dont correlate to the ‘Britishness’ that you mentioned earlier. Can you talk a little about colour in your work in general?
The day I took the photographs, it was beautiful sunshine, but with erratic and heavy downpours that lasted only minutes. These downpours were frequent, so the bowlers where under umbrellas waiting for the rain to pass and the spectators were in their waterproofs for the duration. So in that sense it was typically British! The content of the images I feel to be very British, but because I used flash whilst shooting, I guess the images are naturally vibrant in their content. With regards to my colour work in general, like most, I have dabbled with black and white in the past, but now I always shoot in colour. This is the way we see the world, so it makes sense for me to capture it in this way. Graphical content is an important element in my photographs, so colour is the natural choice for what I want to achieve with my imagery.
Name some influential artists for you and tell us a little about how they influenced your work?
Over the years there have been many individuals who have been an influence. The people who have had notable impact over the years are the likes of Bill Brandt & Richard Avendon. When I was a student studying photography in the 1990’s, it was publications such as Dazed and Confused and ID magazine that really got the creative juices flowing and photographers such as Nick Knight and Jean Baptiste Mondino were important influences on my studio based work. A real lightning bolt moment was when I first saw the photography of Richard Billingham when it was part of the Saatchi’s ‘Sensation’ exhibition at The Royal Academy. It had real impact as did the whole exhibition of the artists on display. The colour work of Constantine Manos and Alex Webb is very special. The one photographer that has always has notable impact is Martin Parr. His wit, observation and vision, whilst documenting life is quite incredible. It could be said that this notable influence can be seen in this series of images, but it was not a conscious thing at the time of shooting. I just photographed the elements of the event that were of interest to me. But, if you photograph a ‘British’ event, using flash, shooting it in colour, then this is inevitable.
Favourite photo book of books?
I love photography books and it would be impossible to choose just one. A few to mention would be The Last Resort and Think of England by Martin Parr, Richard Avendon’s Evidence 1944-1994, the art project Face 2 face by JR, Grim Street by Mark Cohen, Street Photography Now, Minutes to Midnight by Trent Parke and Pastoral by Alexander Gronsky. My recent addition to the collection is, Don’t Just Tell Them, Show Them by Jesse Marlow. His eye for an image and his delivery of colour is just stunning.
Thanks for talking to us, its great to learn a little about some of our active members in this way. Last parting words or advice for people?
Thank you for the opportunity Tristan. It is appreciated. As for parting words and advice for people. I am just like everybody else on UPSP. I like to wander with the camera and enjoy the escapism that street photography brings. So I would just say, enjoy your camera time, drink alcohol by the bottle and make sure you eat the recommended 5 a day portions of fruit and veg…….or is it 6 now….I am not sure.. So eat an extra citrus portion just in case…
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