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Interview with Paul Jones photographer

Paul Jones is one of Manchester's leading fashion photographers. I first met him when he took my portrait for the Circle Club's gallery of members. Looking at the finished results I was amazed at the spontaneity and superb technical qualityof the images - Using the same basic lighting set up - a studio flash and softbox with a plain white background - he managed to bring out the individual in each person.

He also took a decent photo of me, which is quite an achievement. Here's my e-mail interview with photographer Paul Jones done in January 2006.

Where did you learn photography, how long have you been a fashion photographer and how did you get into it?
I never formally trained as a photographer though I learnt the very basics on a foundation art course in Shrewsbury. I fell into photography somewhat by accident as I was offered 3 weeks work as an assistant on a still life shoot. I became full time assistant after this and eventually went from full time assistant to freelance assistant to freelance photographer. I have been shooting fashion/portraits for 15 years.

How do you publicise yourself and get work?
I have regular clients whom I work for and get recommended frequently by existing clients to new ones. Over the years I have gained a decent reputation and have shot some high profile jobs which is important to getting new business.

How important is your website in securing commissions? Do you think it will become more important, and why?
My website has been up and running for 3 years and has been a very useful tool in publicising my work and allowing prospective clients to view what I do. I feel having a good quality website is essential in securing new work and will become increasingly so. It is very difficult to get appointments with possible clients so the website is a great way of showing the work to people at their leisure. Only recently I have picked up commissions from London Magazines on the strength of my website.

Which publications have your photos have appeared in and what were the assignments?
My work has featured in numerous magazines such as Radio Times (cover) , Inside Soap Magazine, Sugar Magazine, Star Magazine, Hello and OK Magazines. These shoots are generally fashion shoots of soap stars and bands in a variety of locations from studio shoots to bars, hotels etc. Recently I have shot fashion campaigns for Littlewoods Stores and Pilot Clothing for their instore window displays.

What types of fashion assignment do you enjoy most and why?
I enjoy editorial shoots most as it allows my creative juices to flow! I have shot a campaign recently for Lily Whttingham where I was allowed the freedom to shoot what I liked as opposed to a commercial orientated brief from the client.

What are the special qualities required of a fashion photographer?
Patience, the ability to communicate well with people and a love of photography.

How much work do you do in the studio as compared to on location? Which do you prefer and why?
My workload tends to be split about 50/50 between studio and location though there have been periods where it has been predominantly location work. I enjoy both equally, though getting to go new places does have a certain appeal.

Are there any negative aspects to the job?
Long hours and waiting around for hair and make up to be completed!

What type of non-fashion photography do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy the variety in shooting other subjects such as still life and advertising work.

What camera and lenses do you use? Would you recommend them, and if so why?
I use my Nikon D2X Digital Camera with a selection of lenses from wide angle to telephoto depending on what is required. I also have a Mamiya RZ67 Film Camera kit including 3 lenses and film backs etc. The Nikon D2X is a truly awesome piece of kit! It is Nikon's "flagship" digital camera and is pretty robust also. It has loads of functions which initially is daunting but once mastered, it is a joy to use. I love my Mamiya which is one hell of a beast!! It is a huge camera and quite weighty but the quality of the images out of it are superb.

Do you use mainly film or digital and which do you prefer?
I mainly shoot digitally these days as that is what the clients want. Occasionally I get the chance to shoot film on the Mamiya which I still prefer to digital. There is something more 'permanent' and 'real' about committing images onto film. I shoot on the Mamiya when images that are being printed massive are required. I just shot a job for Joe Bloggs Jeans which is being printed 25 feet x 20 feet on the Mamiya.

What advice would you give to people who would like to become successful fashion photographers?
The most important advice I can give is to be positive and always believe in yourself. In a fiercely competitive business , there are always knock backs and disappointments but the ability to overcome these are essential in becoming successful. Keep the faith!!

Thanks very much for sharing these insights. To find out more visit the Paul Jones photographer website www.pauljones-photographer.com.

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2006-01-24

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