Tell us about yourself.
I live in rural County Antrim, Northern Ireland – where the weather is shit – with my wife, two kids and cat. I’m obsessed with photography, photobooks and coffee. I’m completely self-taught and like to print in my darkroom, when I’m not out with my camera. I’m a member of the allFT Collective.
What content do you like to create?
I mainly work on projects which culminate in zines or books, all being well. I like to create series of photographs that instill an emotion or evoke a reaction in the viewer. Even though photography is a terrible medium for storytelling, I like to try and tell stories through pictures.
So when did you decided to start shooting photographs?
I’ve been shooting off and on since my late teens – consistently for the last 10-12 years.
What camera do you use?
I use different cameras for different jobs; I have a Leica M6, Contax T3, Chamonix O45-H1 and Mamiya 7. All of them loaded with Ilford Hp5+.
What would you say the main narrative behind your work is?
I have always been fascinated with the concepts of home, identity and belonging, and I think this drives most of my work. Recently, I have been focusing more on the relationship between people and the landscape; both physically and psychologically.
Your photos have an essence of horror to them, is this what you try to create, or is that your style?
It makes me happy that you think that. It means I’ve achieved what I set out to do – and created a response in the viewer. I’m not sure horror is the right word to use though. A recent zine I published (‘Figments’) certainly has some horror elements in it; it was inspired by dreams, nightmares and a poem by W.B. Yeats. But my other work has more of an isolated melancholy to it, I guess. I strive to create images that have a certain style and minimalism, hopefully that comes through my photographic voice and what I am trying to say, or subject matter I am attempting to investigate. I think photographers get too hung up on trying to find a style, I am more interested in what they have to say personally – style comes naturally once you find your feet.
What drives you as an artist?
I was asked to write about this for another article recently and have tried to think deeply about this subject – the upshot is I really don’t know. I pour a huge amount of time, effort, thought and resources into photography and I still can’t work out why. However, the need to be creative has always been with me and for the last 10 years it has been channeled through photography. If I don’t exercise this creative outlet I get irritable and can be a pain in the ass to live with. I must come up with a concrete answer to this question soon!
Was there anything else before taking photos?
Yes – music; I used to produce music, run a club night and radio show, and DJ when I lived in Scotland many years ago. Literature and good films have always held my interest too…
What do you do when you aren’t taking photos?
Look at photobooks, read, print, go on adventures with my kids, develop film, drink coffee, work in my garden, drink wine, dance around the kitchen to loud music with my son, watch Netflix – that kind of thing…
“Art is a lie that tells the truth”
I can’t pick a favourite single photo, so I’ll pick my current favourite book – she dances on Jackson by Vanessa Winship.
Who do you look up to in the creative world?
Alec Soth, Todd Hido, Trent Parke, Vanessa Winship, Sohrab Hura, David Hockney, Michael Mack, Gerhard Steidl and numerous other contemporary photographers.
Anything we can look forward to?
Yes! I am currently working on a book project. It’s based in the Glens of Antrim and shot on large format film – it will be a long slog to get it finished and (hopefully) published but I’m excited about it. I also have a couple of exhibitions lined up which will be happening soon. The collective I am member of will also be releasing our second group zine very shortly – check out our instagram or website.
Out of all the projects you have been apart of, which has been your favourite?
That’s a hard one, like asking to pick a favourite kid! I would say my family project which is ongoing is closest to my heart.
Any last words?
I’ll leave you with a Picasso quote; “Art is a lie that tells the truth”
To buy any of James’ work, contact him via:
Your Portfolio Archive currently has no entries. You can start creating them on your dashboard.