Chatting with the Lightbox Photographic Open Winners

22 December 2017

The Lightbox Photographic Open saw photographers from all over the country entering with their interpretations of the theme 'Anniversary and Celebration', and we were blown away by the results! The resulting exhibition (open 14 Oct 2017 - 7 Jan 2018) is a stunning visual journey through fireworks, parades, birthdays, weddings, parties and all the rites and traditions humans share through celebration. With just a couple of weeks left to place your votes for The People's Prize, we had a chat with the judges' winners.

Shaun Jackson, Best in Show

What is the back story to your winning photograph, Teddy Boys Party (above)?

In 2012 I saw a group of Teddy Boys in a restaurant. I remember finding myself drawn to their style of dress, choice of haircuts, and their sense of otherness, particularly as this group were not teenagers, but people in their fifties.

In 2014 I started the final year of my degree and remembering my encounter in 2012 I decided to look at the subculture of both Teddy Boys and Rockers and those who inhabit the Rock and Roll scene. The project took the form of portraits as well as documenting the iconography. The final result was called ‘Fury Unleashed’.

After completing of my degree, I continued to photograph the Rockers and Teddy Boys from a personal perspective, but as well as portraits I started to photograph the events in a more traditional social documentary form. This image is the result of one of those shoots and was photographed in January this year.  The Teddy Boys were out in full force at the Crondall Rock’n’Roll Club to watch The Fireballs U.K.

One of the dances involves joining together and rapidly moving forward towards the stage, literally using the stage as a springboard they push themselves back as you might push yourself away from the edge of a swimming pool while doing backstroke. In one of these surges I cheekily jumped in front of them and took this photograph. 

Images from the project Fury Unleashed © Shaun Jackson

How has your experience been of The Lightbox competition?

I was delighted when both my images were accepted as part of the Lightbox Photographic Open as the gallery is such a wonderful space to exhibit. I was completely shocked and thrilled when I discovered that my photograph had been chosen as the ‘Best in Show’. 

What inspired you to get started in photography?

In 2010 I almost died after contracting a virus, which damaged my heart. I left hospital with 11% heart function and was pretty incapable of doing anything for 3 months. Thankfully for me I reacted well to the medication and was looked after brilliantly by my late Mum. I was too ill to work and therefore decided I would study an A-Level in art as I enjoyed drawing and painting as a hobby.  When I went along to enroll I discovered there were not enough candidates for the course to run and by pure chance I met the photography lecturer who encouraged me to try the A-Level in photography and within 6 weeks I was completely hooked. After finishing the A-Level, I continued onto the BA (Hons) Photography Degree at Farnborough and graduated in 2015.

Arbiter of Waste - Jan © Shaun Jackson

Patron of refuse - Mr Chintz © Shaun Jackson

These images are from a project entitled 'Uncherished Memories', about recycling and consumerism.  It is inspired by my continued fascination by what is deemed as rubbish, how society deals with it, and the consumers’ decision to discard previous purchases that were potentially once cherished and loved.

Jan, who features in one my portraits is an arbiter, or judge of waste. He decides the final destination of consumers detritus. He sifts through the thrown away, rearrange where necessary, to make sure that the materials and objects are in the correct bin. Their policing of the thrown away deserves the recognition. 

Mr Chintz. I don’t know his real name but I call him Mr Chintz in reference to the famous IKEA advert which suggested we should ‘chuck out the chintz’.  He is a regular visitor the the recycling centre, he goes there in the hope of finding useful items from discarded items.

What other photo projects are you working on?

Apart from continuing to work as a freelance photographer, I am also researching and have started several projects.  One of these is looking at the growing number of people who find themselves homeless in the UK. I have been struck by their plight, no longer are they struggling in just our big cities but are also prevalent in our local towns. I am looking at the lives of these people and the increasing number of dedicated charities who help them.

I am also interested in the way our high streets are changing. I live in a small town where our local shops and businesses have so far resisted change and the modern uniformity, with many of the small businesses continuing to trade in the traditional sense. I am exploring through photography a way of life that is slowly being absorbed by big corporations who are literally swallowing our British high streets and making one town indistinguishable from another.

Gnome £19.99 © Shaun Jackson

Prom Dress £39.50 © Shaun Jackson

What advice would you have for young photographers like Olivia (winner of the Young Photographer's Prize)?

First of all I would like to congratulate Olivia for winning the Young Photographer's Prize with such a brilliant image. The best advice I can give from my own experience is to continually explore photographers past and present, you will naturally be drawn to work you like and in a subliminal way it will ultimately help you to produce better photographs.

Cameras today are so clever that anyone can use one, I think it’s important not to rely on the automatic functions but to learn how your camera works. To understand your camera and all it can do will open up avenues for greater expression and representation of whatever you like to photograph.

Olivia Teasdale, Young Photographer's Prize

Lux © Olivia Teasdale

How has your experience been of The Lightbox competition?

The experience of the competition was completely new to me as this is the first ever photographic competition I have entered, but the process was very rewarding and I’m very glad I chose to enter. The process has enabled me to feel more motivated and inspired within the creation of my photography, and seeing my work up in a gallery filled me with pride and hope for the future.

What inspires your photography?

My photography is partially inspired by the fantasy styles of David LaChapelle and Nick Knight, with their vivid colours and dream-like depictions. I often draw upon their setting and lighting techniques, and attempt to reflect these within the photography I create. However, I am most heavily influenced by the work of Petra Collins, a young American photographer. Her exploration of femininity, female sexuality and the anxiety of youth are all motifs I touch upon in my own work, and her prominent use of gels linked within the emotions of the subject also reflects within my own work. Her book, entitled ‘Babe,’ features prominent images from herself and other female photographers, and heavily influenced the production of my own book, ‘The Presentation of an Alternate Reality.’ I take inspiration from not only other photographers, but classical artists, and I have looked in depth into the expressionistic painters of the 19th century.

What’s the story behind your winning photograph, what drew you to work with neon?

The photograph ‘Lux’ came about when I was sixteen years old, and was shot within the studio at my College. The image was intended to convey a hedonistic scene, with the mirrors used to form an internal triptych style, and also touch upon the theme of personal reflection. The solemn expression of the model amongst the sharp colours creates a juxtaposition between outer appearances an inner conditions, and therefore helps to convey the anxieties of youth. The neon was bright, eye-catching and expressionistic, and therefore it was a medium I was excited to have the opportunity to work with; the concept of the image was tailored around the materials I had chosen.

Do you have any other photo projects you are working on?

So far this year, I have completed 25 shoots and about 200 pages of portfolio work for my A Level Photography. Starting in January, I will be given a theme by the exam board and have to create images inspired by the theme, so that is likely to be the next significant photographic project that I work on. I have been exploring ‘The Presentation of an Alternate Reality,’ as a title, using different styles to convey similar messages, and this is something I will continue to work on into 2018. I have also created a website where my work can be viewed by the public, and I run an Instagram page by the same name. As a young person, I have had to balance education with my passion for photography, but I have every hope that I will have more time and liberty with my photography in the future.

What are your aspirations for what comes next?

I’d like to complete my Photography A Level, hopefully receiving my targeted grade of A*. I then hope to move onto university, and continue to work on my photography throughout my degree. My College has provided me with so much inspiration and equipment, and the process of creating an image is such a rewarding experience that I hope to continue it throughout the rest of my life. I will continue to enter photographic competitions, and hopefully one day be able to employ photography as a career. Otherwise, I will keep creating art that I love, and that reflects who I am as a person - and if that’s not enough, I’m not sure what is.

Don't miss your chance to see Shaun's and Olivia's winning photographs in person at The Lightbox Photographic Open exhibition, open till Sunday 7 Jan 2018. While you're there, cast your vote for the People's Prize - the photo with the most votes will win £250!

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