Garry Jones has a wealth of experience shooting everything from high-end fashion portraits to fast-paced action shots. We sent him the Lomogon 2.5/32 Art and a roll of LomoChrome Metropolis to test out his analogue skills and he talked to us about pursuing his passion for photography, from a hobby to a professional career.
Hi Garry, please could you introduce yourself to our community?
I'm Garry Jones a freelance commercial photographer from the UK. You may remember me from such articles as ‘Capturing the Spirit of Shambala’ and ‘From A to Berlin Kino’. Really channeling Troy McClure in that introduction. I have been shooting professionally for around ten years now with a variety of clients in the music industry right through to sports brands. My background in how I got into photographing was all culturally driven by my hobbies such as skateboarding and DJ’ing.
I documented what I was stoked about and began to grow with that, leading me to work for record labels, festivals, skateboard competitions, and more. Also in the past couple of years, I have begun to guest lectures and pursue teaching with the goal of sharing my experiences with photographers who also want to get into a similar field. Currently, I also hold a position as Artist in Residence at Birmingham City University where I completed my Masters a little over a year ago.
Your portfolio covers everything from lo-fi film shots to sports, action, portraits, and music festivals. Why choose to have such a varied selection and do you have a favorite?
I think going through my portfolio of it does look quite varied but it's really just an embodiment of what I’ve been interested in throughout my life. Everything has a back story but it started with skateboarding for me, seeing documentation of professional skateboarders on trips, or getting a poster in a magazine to rip out and put on my wall to analyze how it was shot. Never did I think that years later I would be photographing at X-Games, I would never have dreamed that could happen. Spending three years shooting film, developing, printing in color and black and white darkrooms gave me the understanding of film photography that has become an undercurrent to my style of shooting ever since. My music photography certainly came from being so into mixing Drum and Bass in my teenage years and naturally I wanted to recreate photos I’d seen of my favorite DJs. Going to clubs at the age of 16 which eventually progressed to festivals at 18 and so forth. All these subjects just came from what I loved. The portraits didn’t come about until my mid-twenties when I really found new confidence in what I was trying to achieve with my photography. Realizing photoshoots weren’t so scary if I worked with people I shared common interests with and that I could build a connection with during the shoot. Now all I want to do is shoot portraits. Overall, if you add all my areas together, it gives a picture of me and who I am as a person. Shooting what you're passionate about keeps it fun and the results are going to be something you're genuinely excited by. Having to pick a favorite, I’d go for shooting sports, specifically skateboarding.
What makes you want to shoot film and digital? Do you think attitudes about using film are changing within the professional industry?
Personally, I think it's healthy to shoot a bit of both. So many friends who work in the industry do. One minute they can be documenting a festival with two massive DSLR’s and then the next week doing a little fashion shoot with a 35 mm point and shoot. For me, I have a lot of work that it’s just not needed to shoot on film, or the budget and turn around probably isn’t there with the client. Instead, I try and specifically create a shoot knowing I’ll shoot it all on 120 and set those expectations to whoever the shoot is for, this normally being in the music industry for a band or solo artist. One of the main things that make me want to shoot both is keeping it fun. I love photography, it’s very much my life and it’s enjoyable using different cameras, stocks, and lenses.
It’s important to keep that sense of learning and engagement in what you’re shooting with and why. As far as speaking about attitudes towards shooting film in the professional industry I can only speak on a personal level, but you see a large portion of talented photographers in all areas of specialism, fashion, sports, landscape, all choosing to shoot film because they have grown up shooting it. Schools, colleges, and universities still really champion shooting film with so many keeping darkrooms and facilities open for younger photographers to experiment. These opportunities then go forward when the photographers progress into working with clients bringing a portfolio full of film photos that are a true representation of that person's style which then gets them work. Finding out what works best within film photography is what I found important as I gained confidence in shooting 6x6 120 and made that a staple of my professional practice.
How did you find shooting the Lomogon Art Lens and the LomoChrome Metropolis Film?
This was the first lens by Lomography I had shot with. Very briefly, a few years back I got to check out my friend Paul’s Petzval 85mm lens when we were shooting Bestival. So it was nice to experience a new piece of glass and to be clear I'm a big fan of prime lenses, especially when shooting film. My first reaction to getting the lens was 32mm, I really need to take this to the streets and capture some candid moments. But to keep on trend with what I was shooting at the time I took it with me to my shoots and shot just a few frames over the space of one roll of LomoChrome Metropolis. Having it on the back burner to just pull out attached to my silver Nikon F65 almost relaxed the shoot or threw away any fatigue as the conversation went straight to this epic looking brass lens. The Lomogon Lens itself feels so solid and almost no thrills about it giving it an everyday lens feel that could be attached to your daily camera when you’re out and about. Focusing is really smooth and everything just works how you want it to, I think a photographer at any level would appreciate this lens.
This isn’t my first time with the LomoChrome Metropolis 35 mm, I had experienced shooting the film stock at the beginning of the year when in Finland. Shooting a film you aren’t used to at times has margins for error. I shoot the same color negative film the majority of the time so I know how it reacts in certain lighting and the results I’ll get. This time around I shot Metropolis at 100 speed, being summer and having a huge amount of light available I thought it would be best to really test out how fine the grain levels were in this film. The best thing about the film and the most obvious is the shift in colors and the results you get. The desaturated look that sways towards muted yellows and greens but then pops in contrast for areas of black and pushes the areas of white. It's certainly a standout look and can completely change the aesthetic of the photograph due to the color palette of the film. Metropolis is so worth shooting a few rolls just to experience something new within analogue photography. I’m really looking forward to buying some 120 Metropolis to use for some shoots in the coming months.
What’s coming up in the next 12 months?
With everything that’s been going on its been hard to plan too far into the future. I've been taking every month as it comes just thankful to have had regular work. I’ve really been supported by some of my fantastic clients/friends that book me to take photos for them. I've been doing a lot of work back in Coventry where I’m from, shooting for Coventry City of Culture 2021 and creating bodies of work for them in the run up to next year. Hopefully, I’ll be carrying working closely with the amazing team there, shooting events, exhibitions & portraits. I’m always constantly on the search to create new album cover art for musicians as well so hopefully can find one or two projects on that front as it's so nice to sink yourself into a big body of work that ends up in a vinyl release. The next twelve months for me is to shoot more photos, reconnect with friends and enjoy being out with my camera.