Interview for Manchester Fashion Network – see it here http://www.manchesterfashion.com/c/16/1351/featured-member-jonathan-pow/
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career in photography.
Well, it started over ten years ago, fresh-faced out of college.
With a serious interest in photography, and having studied Guy Bourdin as well as Cindy Sherman, the spark was lit. I just needed to find a way of keeping the fire burning & earn a living.
Commercial / fashion photography wasn’t my first job, however. I moved away from home & my native Devon, when I landed a job as a press photographer at a busy daily paper in Humberside. Scunthorpe to be precise. It was quite a shock to the system.
With about 8-10 jobs a day I was thrown in at the deep end, and soon had to pick up essential skills to deliver the goods.
Not long after I was tracked down by a press agency, where I worked for national newspapers and magazines from my base in York.
How did your interest in photography begin?
It was always the elegance of it. To me, film photography was like magic.
Also, being 6’9″ tall a friend suggested photojournalism would be a good option, because if I didn’t get shot it would give me a fantastic vantage point.
Back then, before I started my professional career, I had a Mamiya 645 with a polaroid back, which was amazing to use. I carried it everywhere with me, even backpacking in the Rocky Mountains and through Canada. It was such an immersive experience to use, and required thought and skill to get the shot right.
Also being a photographer is an amazing way to meet people from all walks of life. That’s another reason why I went in to press photography. You are in a privileged position, where you often see and experience things only a few people have the opportunity to.
What made you want to become a freelancer?
I wanted the freedom to pick my own fate. I loved working for a press agency, but after over five years I wanted to work in other areas to try my skills as photographer. Since then I’ve been on mountaineering photo-shoots for outdoor clothing companies, lingerie shoots, met and photographed world renowned artists. I’ve also done things I knew my boss would not have liked, and made them work. That’s pretty satisfying.
Where are you based?
Currently I’m based in Manchester, and regularly travel across to Yorkshire, as well as the Scottish Highlands and London. Apart from that, I’m working all over the UK.
Which areas of photography do you specialise in?
My work is essentially split in two. First is commercial work. As a fashion photographer or as a lifestyle product photographer (essentially products being used in a reportage style with a commercial edge). These can be creatively lit and commercially have quite high production value.
Second is press work for national newspapers, agencies and magazines. These are often shot and sent straight, with standard corrections, as papers need their photographs to be an accurate portrayal of the story, and to be true to reality.
In the future I’m looking to work with more British manufacturers and retailers on commercial photo shoots. We’re an amazing little island, and our industries, be it the fashion industry or retail sector have so much influence around the globe. I’m always pleased to get these commissions, and always happy to help when someone seeks me out for creative shoots.
What is your favourite project you have worked on so far and why?
It has to be the recent work for the expedition clothing company, PHD. Their factory is in Stalybridge, and they make gear for expeditions which ends up in the far reaches of the world (in some pretty extreme environments). It’s not your standard job, climbing up a mountain-side in ice and snow to photograph equipment in use. Then again I didn’t go into photography to have a normal job.
I’m also on social media