Justin Yockney is a photographer based in Bristol, his first exhibition opens at Walcot Chapel Gallery in Bath on Monday 27th November. It is an opportunity to see work spanning the last 10 years covering a range of key themes that have evolved for the photographer during that time.
I asked him to tell me more about his work and the upcoming exhibition, "In ordinary and forgotten places, I photograph landscapes I find interesting and surreal, that reflect the odd way we leave our mark on our surroundings.
The landscapes, stripped of all people, show only the consequence of our presence. The idea that the subject matter is being seen for the first time, with nothing to add context or comfort, appeals to me. Taken out of context, the intention is that these scenes from everyday life, present something that is unfamiliar, alien, surprising even"
Does his art school training in Sculpture influence his work?
"Most of the images have, set within them, objects or buildings that I treat as pre-existing sculptural content. When I find an interesting combination of place, atmosphere and sculptural elements, then I have found the kind of landscape I seek to photograph.
The work on show explores things we take for granted, what we perceive as familiar and attempts to display something extraordinary, that is quite unlike the world we think we live in"
How, i wondered, was he first drawn to photography as a medium?
"From an early age, I was fortunate enough to go on many holidays around Europe with my parents, in a heavily packed Mini Clubman, clutching my prized bright red Konica Pop camera. I loved that camera and it still sits proudly on a shelf in my flat with other cameras I’ve owned over the years. Even at this early stage, it was evident that I had a penchant for focusing on less celebrated subjects. A long-standing family joke tells of a photograph I took of a campsite toilet block set against a Swiss mountain landscape.
As I moved through art education, the photograph continued to be an important tool for me in my exploration of the many approaches to making art. It was not until the latter stages of my degree, studying sculpture in Newcastle, that it took over as the most important medium for me. I would take my sculptures out into the landscape and photograph them, the photograph becoming more important than the sculpture itself. I played with form, colour and texture in my sculpture, trying to replicate man made objects I saw out in the landscape. Ultimately, I realised that nothing I made could compete with the sculptural content surrounding us. This has become the focus of my photography to this day"
What about his favourite projects or commercial photography jobs, did he have any favourites?
"Occasionally and, often after much searching, I find a place that is charged with a certain atmosphere. I can’t describe this atmosphere but I know it when it’s there. It will be a place that has stood, unnoticed for a long time and now becomes my own secret landscape to photograph. Places like this, capture my imagination and are the inspiration for my art photography.
Commercially, I sometimes get to photograph musicians that I, not only like musically, but also find visually interesting. These jobs I find particularly rewarding. Similarly, I enjoy photographing other artists’ sculptural work or performances, attempting to capture the essence of what they do, photographically, as a record for them to showcase their work"
Would there be an ideal photographic commission?
"I would like to empty a town or city and walk it’s streets, bereft of people, capturing images of the landscape they have left behind."
And what about technicalities, what kind of kit do you use and how do you print your photographs, you must have come a long way since the Konica Pop...
"The 16” x 10” photographs are printed on Canon professional studio finish photo paper, using Canon Chromalife100 printing inks. When I need to up the scale for an exhibition or commission, I employ a pro photo lab that prints on traditional silver-based photographic paper. In terms of kit, my main camera body is a Canon 5D Mark II which has the full frame sensor to retain high image quality, but is also very portable. It’s a good camera for commercial work and works well in capturing impromptu scenes I find out and about in the landscape. My core lenses are a standard zoom, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM lens, again, good because of it’s versatility and range, and a Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS II USM lens which is great for performance and concert photography."