Interview with Jonathan Chritchley
#1 Please introduce yourself:
My name is Jonathan Chritchley, I was born in London, England but have lived at the coast in south west France since 1998.
#2 How did you get interested in photography?
My father was a keen amateur photographer, so there were always cameras around the house when I was a child. When I was about 6 or 7 I remember him giving me one of his old cameras and I used to carry it everywhere, framing and shooting imaginary photographs – there was no film in it – I guess I became accustomed to seeing life through the viewfinder. It was later, when I was around 21 or 22, that I decided it was what I wanted to do with my life.
#3 Do you have an artistic/photographic background?
I was always quite artistic – I loved to draw and paint, use charcoals and pencils, and my family always assumed I would eventually be some sort of artist. I actually loved comic art and for a while that was the route I was planning to follow. Things changed as they do when you’re young and I went on to study photography at art school in the UK, then ended up assisting several photographers – the greatest learning process ever!
#4 Which artist/photographer inspired your art?
The sailing photographs of Beken of Cowes, the seascapes of David Parker, and the sublime composition and camera work of French film director Luc Besson, particularly in his movie The Big Blue. The first 10 minutes of that movie, shot in black and white, are what steered me towards what I do.
#5 How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph? Are you planning every step or is it always spontaneous?
I research locations using Google Earth and the internet, then once I arrive the spontaneity takes over and the artist kicks in. I like to work to a basic plan but leave plenty of opportunity for experimentation, as I think that often my best results happen that way.
#6 What fascinates you in places that you shoot?
The sea and man’s attempts to co-exist with it. I am drawn to coastal locations, all over the world, where mankind adapts to and lives with the sometimes savage, sometimes benign force that exists within our oceans. The ocean makes me feel calm, humble and respectful, which I think are all pretty good traits for a human to be reminded of!
#7 We can see your photographs only in black and white, why have you chosen to present them in this form?
I am drawn to the simplicity of black and white, the way it reduces a landscape to elemental shapes and tones, the way it can completely change the way one views a subject or location, the way it alters ones perception of reality and adds a certain mystery to the landscape, making even the most familiar of objects seem somehow unfamiliar and somehow more special, more romantic even.
#8 Could you please tell us something about your technique and creating process?
Although I still have my Hasselblad 500CM I have turned pretty much digital these days. I was unsure whether to go the Hasselblad digital route but was concerned about its suitability to the environment in which I work – water, water and more water! In the end I went for a Nikon D3X and a host of Zeiss lenses – I work closely with Zeiss and have always admired their quality. I am delighted with the results I get and the file size is a healthy one for the work I do – mostly large prints. I now process using Lightroom and Photoshop, but my workflow is very quick and based firmly in the darkroom – conversion to black and white, tweaks of contrast and tone and hey presto!
#9 Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in photography?
Come on one of my workshops… Only kidding! Really it’s like to old saying goes – the more you practice the better you get. It’s great to have influences but try and develop your own style and stick to it. Choose something you love, somewhere you know and feel comfortable to photograph – you’ll get the best results that way. Know your equipment and have a routine in setting it up – that way you can concentrate on the art rather than the science.
#10 What do you do in your life besides photography?
I am lucky enough to earn a living combining my two passions – photography and water, and currently work with galleries, magazines, décor stores and collectors. In 2007 I started photo workshops and courses company OCEAN CAPTURE with a couple of dates near where I live in France. Now the team travel to 9 countries worldwide visiting and photographing the best water locations in the world. We also run workshops in the UK and from near my home in France. It is a dream job and I feel proud of my company and what has been achieved.
#11 What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?
The most immediate is publishing. I am talking to a few publishers at the moment about releasing work in book form and hope to have a firm plan by Christmas this year. We also have plans to make a documentary film and once again we are talking to producers and film crews – we should start shooting in the early part of 2012. But most importantly it is to try to ensure the continued health and happiness of my children, who I love more than any of the above.
Jonathan Chritchley Official Website: