News__ Q + A with Jack Davison

November 08, 2011 | By

Jack Davison is an amazingly talented photographer. He’s also a 20-year-old YouTube addict.

Capturing a person’s soul on film isn’t easy. They move around too much, avoid eye contact and there's usually a lot of posing. It takes practice and skill to get striking portraits. But Jack Davison, only 20-years-old, already has such a hugely impressive body of work. His portraits are genuine, raw and totally encapsulating. "I look for interesting faces," Davison says. "Not necessarily the girls everyone labels as fit--they are often a bore to work with."

Originally from Helions Bumpstead, England, Jack began taking pictures at the age of sixteen. Through practice, persistence and a little help from some friends on Flickr, his work has taken on a life of its own.  He is currently exhibiting pieces at UrbanPicnic in Essex, England.

Where do you live and where were you born and raised?

I live in Leamington Spa, which is a peculiar town just outside of Coventry, England, though I was born and raised in a series of tiny rural villages in Essex. I've given up telling people I come from a village called Helions Bumpstead—all it results in is stifled giggles or quizzical looks.

How old were you when you took your first picture?

Sixteen, I think. But that was just me messing around with the family camera, the results are best left buried somewhere on my hard drive.

Read more Q + A with Jack Davison below.

How has your work progressed since then?

For some reason, I started putting the results of my pissing about up on Flickr, and slowly but surely, I started to copy techniques and stumble my way through Photoshop. I can’t deny how key Flickr was in getting me where I am with my photography. Particularly, the incredible people I met on Flickr. I've made so many lasting relationships through the site. I met Brett Walker, my mentor. I can’t thank him enough for being the best teacher and friend. I would still be stuck fucking around with freckles and shiny eyes on Photoshop if he hadn’t kicked me in the right direction. I needed him to kick the shit out of my work (pride bruising as it was) to actually know where to go next. Working with lots of different photographers has been brilliant.

How do you feel participating in the industry at such a young age?

It's challenging—I have one more year of studying English at university left and I have been slowly readying myself for when I finish so I can hit the ground running. As with much of the creative industry, people expect you to work for free and it is always a challenge to get passed this expectation.  I recently finished my first group exhibition in the AtomRooms gallery in Portobello. I learned a lot from that experience—mainly that the art world can be one mean bitch. I got an exhibition, though and feel I can’t ask for more at my age. The whole experience hardened my outlook on the industry and has encouraged me to be much more careful with my work and who I work with. I am currently exhibiting in a local gallery in Essex called UrbanPicnic, which has been a much more positive experience.

Who or what are your favorite subjects to photograph? Why?

I don't have favorite subjects, I like to work with people I get along with and enjoy working with.  I look for interesting faces, not necessarily the girls everyone labels as a fit--they are often a bore to work with. For me it is always about finding the most unique and peculiar faces, rather than those that are stereotypically good looking. I am terrible when it comes to meeting people as I can’t help but meet a person and instantly work out how I would portrait them. The majority of people I portrait are friends or friends of friends. If I am feeling brave, I will approach strangers if they are worth the chase.

Do you understand a person better after taking their portrait?

Portraiting people is by far the most rewarding aspect of photography. The initial excitement of finding a new face and the rush to shoot it right cannot be beaten. The first shoot is always the most interesting as I stumble around trying to get my cameras to work and at the same time nattering away trying to the relax the model so they don't clam up and freeze. The moment where I work out how to get something from a new model is the most rewarding moment.

Top 3 people you'd like to photograph dead or alive:

Vincent Cassel
Tilda Swinton
Thomas Turgoose when he played Shaun in This is England.

You post a lot of photos on your Tumblr. Do you find yourself on the internet a lot?

I spend an awful amount of time on the internet. It is not good for my degree. I am a bit of a YouTube fiend, I'll admit to that.

Tell us a joke:

Oh god. I've got nothing.

What music are you listening to these days?

Allsorts. Dead Prez. U-Roy. Kanye West. SBTRKT. Youth Lagoon. Gil Scott-Heron. Onra. J Dilla. Ratatat. Wax Tailor.

Anything else?

Thanks!

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