Hi James, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. How was it you came to be in the photography world?
'Not at all and you’re very welcome! I’ve always had a creative streak, one which wasn’t appreciated by the education system. I got kicked off my art course when I was 15 because I kept drawing Orcs and Elves when they wanted me to draw flowers. Same went for my photography, it just didn’t conform to what they wanted. As a result I shelved being creative because ironically my experience with education taught me that I was just plain “wrong”. Fast forward a number of years and I was working on a website where the content centred on entertainment, and that meant there was a need for gig photographs. We had a photographer lined up, but they couldn’t make it so I was thrown into last minute. Bit of a shock to the system, first three songs, no flash, and an old Sony Bridge camera. Luckily the stage lights were quite bright so I managed to get some decent shots, and that’s when I was bitten by the creative bug a second time round.'
Of the gigs you've shot, which would you say was your favourite?
'Good grief, that's an evil question! A couple spring to mind, first one would be Alter Bridge at Rock City in Nottingham on their ABIII tour. I'd interviewed the band a couple of times (which is why you'll see the signed Ibanez on my portfolio in various shots) and not only are they all incredible musicians, but they are such a nice group of genuine decent people too. The Saturdays were good, and had one heck of a stage show (again Nottingham), and another gig that blew my socks off that I loved shooting was WASP at Rock City.'
Before we take a slight detour, this is mainly a photography blog so I best ask...what do you shoot with?
'Aha, this is where a couple of photographers have laughed, but a Nikon D90 believe it or not, a nifty fifty lens and the AF-S Nikkor 18-105mm. Outside of that a Bowens Gemini 400Rx, a nice softbox and a triflector. That’s it!'
|Model - Eden Elizabeth|
As we've discussed in the past, and as evident by some images in your portfolio, you're a fan of, amongst other things, Star Wars. Of all the films within the universe, which is your favourite and why?
'Empire Strikes Back, no hesitation. The only film I saw before that at the cinema was Lord of the Rings (the animated one), so Empire was the second film I had ever seen, and I hadn’t even seen Star Wars beforehand either. At that time Star Trek: The Original Series was on TV, and Buck Rogers (ah Erin Gray), so when I saw a squadron of Tie Fighters blasting around the screen it just blew my mind, and the AT-AT’s, it was just so refreshing, new, creative and the whole good versus evil I totally bought in to.'
|Model - Laura Anne|
Obviously, as you share it online, your photographic talent isn't hidden. Do you have any hidden talents?
'Hidden in so far as only my friends know, but I guess that’s about to be blown out of the water. I write. I’m four chapters into my epic saga, shared those with some fellow writers and they were surprised that they enjoyed it, and were desperate for me to write more. In fact they keep bloody nagging me! I play guitar, I draw, and have trained in four different martial arts.'
Speaking of talents...somewhat loose segway, mind you, most of mine are...what did you want to be when you were a kid?
'Remember Airwolf and a computer game called AH64 Apache? I wanted to fly for the army air corps, passed most of their tests, was told I was a natural when it came to flight controls, but then found out I was short sighted. In those days you weren’t allowed to wear glasses for military pilots, and you weren’t accepted even if you had had laser corrective surgery.'
I loved Airwolf. A few years back I started building a remote control model version, then finances fizzled and I had to sell it... I know it's not quite what you wanted to do but, have you managed to do any recreational flying since?
'I've been a passenger in a few helicopter excursions, and did look at a training course, but bloody hell, it's a bit more expensive then driving lessons ha! Marriage, mortgages and kids tend to limit finances, and of course I'd love to fly, but the reality is, I wouldn't swap the world for my wife and kid. If however I found myself better off, then I'd certainly be looking into it again.'
|Model - Eden Elizabeth|
Let's move back to photography... If you could shoot anyone, living or dead, famous or 'normal', who would you shoot and why?
'Oh god what a question, so many people, a huge list, David Bowie, Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks, infact, anyone in a Sci-Fi series! But if I really had to narrow it down, I would say either Audie Murphy or James Stewart. The two of them just seemed to be genuinely decent people, both saw active service (in fact, Audie Murphy I think is one of the most highly decorated soldiers of WWII), and I watch their films religiously whenever they are on. I admire them as good people, and guess that they’re role models for me.'
Your fantasy and film related stuff...which I'm a fan of by the way...how do you go about creating it?
'Magic Elves. Tough question, it really depends. Some shots I’ve meticulously planned, setting the lights up to be the same way as an intended background image. Some images I’ve done a studio shoot with a model, and then when I’ve come to process them I’ve had a “HOLD IT RIGHT THERE” moment followed by a “I wonder if....”. Sometimes what I’ve got planned will dictate the colour of the background (black, white or green), and other times it’s the other way around. And then Photoshop happens. Actually Photoshop always happens. I shoot in a very tight space, so ye olde “canvas size” with a 200% increase tends to happen as a matter of course!'
|Model - Laura Anne|
What's the best photography advice you've received?
'Pardon the swearing, but verbatim, I was told this “If you aren’t fucking something up then you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough and you’re not progressing your skills”. I can confirm there are plenty of screw ups, so I must be advancing my skills at a dizzying rate of knots!'
What's the biggest, or most ridiculous fuck up you've made...that you can admit to?
'Photography or personally? Ok, world exclusive on a mix of the two, with names omitted or changed to protect the innocent. I was given a gig shoot in Sheffield for the main act, and an interview with the first support band. At that time, they were just starting out, but now they get airplay on Radio 1 and such like, but again, having interviewed them once before, thought they were a bunch of really nice people. As it turns out, at this gig, there were two support acts, both hailing from up north, with the same accents, and one guy from the second act looked a bit like one of the guys from the first support act (you can see where this is going can't you). Security at Sheffield didn't seem to know what was going on, and I spotted "Barry" and yelled across to him asking how he was doing. He answered "good to see you mate, are you here to see us?", and I replied that yes, and the interview was scheduled at 5pm, and he seemed ok with this and ushered me in through the corridors back stage to their dressing room. I get the camera set up ready to video, and then it suddenly dawns on me that I don't recognise any of the band apart from "Barry", and then I see the band T-shirts. Oh sh*t. "Barry" isn't "Barry" at all, and I'm in the main support acts dressing room, about to do an interview, not having any questions prepared and actually not knowing a great deal about them, only for things to escalate as the singer from the main act comes in too. Surprisingly the interview went ok, and then I was rescued by the real "Barry" and did the proper interview as planned and on time. Real "Barry" that it was bloody hilarious but at the time I was sweating bullets.'
|Model - Emily Victoria|
We're already six months into 2017, what have you got planned for the second half of the year?
'Well, I’ve worked myself into a career dead end, so non-photography wise I need to make a career change and that’s a huge challenge. In terms of photography, more of the same, but I’m also looking to do some more shots of doggies, and wildlife in general. Depending on if I have the time, I would quite like to have a little dabble in landscapes and architecture, but we’ll see how things go with dogs and deer etc first.'
And finally, if people want to see more of your work, or book a shoot with you, where can they find you?
'Well there’s this great site called Purpleport - http://purpleport.com/portfolio/jmhphoto
But outside of that I don’t tend to do social media too much, or if I do, it’s not really related to my photography! Maybe I should change that?'
Just one more thing (he says in his best Peter Falk)...what's your favourite joke?
' A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables, and when he picked up a CD player to place in his pack, a strange, disembodied voice echoed from the dark saying, "Jesus is watching you."
He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight out, and froze. When he heard nothing more after a bit, he shook his head, promised himself a vacation after the next big score, then clicked the light on and began searching for more valuables. Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard,
"Jesus is watching you." Freaked out, he shone his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot. "Did you say that?", he hissed at the parrot.
"Yep," the parrot confessed, then squawked, "I'm just trying to warn you."
The burglar relaxed. "Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?"
"Moses," replied the bird.
"Moses?" the burglar laughed. "What kind of people would name a bird Moses?"
"The kind of people that would name a Rottweiler Jesus." '
Once again, I'd like to thank James for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. Be sure to check out the links for more of his work, and the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved.