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April 6, 2020


Photography by James Ayres
Interview by Melanie Meggs

As a child, James Ayres developed a deep fascination with the world around him. He found an inexplicable joy in observing the hustle and bustle of everyday life in his home city of London. People watching and taking in all the sights, sounds, and nuances of his environment provided a solace which he had yet to find in any other activity. James soon found a passion for street and documentary photography, as it allowed him to capture the raw, unbridled beauty of his beloved city.

Although he has worked hard to hone his craft, James believes that the key to a great photo is simplicity. He explained that his captures should be able to tell a story that encourages the viewer to ask questions and ponder the scene he has set. As a photographer, he is motivated by the potential of every shot to create a connection with his audience.

James has struggled with his mental health for many years, and when his therapist proposed that he try something creative to help with his therapy, it immediately resonated with him.

“I’ve struggled with mental health issues on and off for many years and recently diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) so when my therapist suggested I try something like photography it was one of those ‘oh yeah’ moments. I’ve always been interested in any kind of visual art form, be it painting, sculpture etc, so it was a very easy decision to make. Photography keeps me in the moment and also keeps me aware of my surroundings. I also find that editing a picture is very therapeutic as well.”


THE PICTORIAL LIST: Where do you find your inspiration James?

JAMES AYRES: My inspiration comes from the people in London.

TPL: Do you have a different style of photographing today than when you first started?

JA: I think so, yes. I think I used to over complicate my pictures. But now, for me, simplicity is key. I’ve also started shooting in black and white only. I find that I see things better in black and white, and I feel, it’s better suited to my style of photography.

TPL: Where is your favourite place(s) to photograph?

JA: It’s a pretty standard answer but I love London. I love to shoot in Soho, Oxford Street and Regents Street mainly. But I love to shoot in the city as a whole. I live just outside so it’s easy for me to get to and I love the fact that wherever you go in London it changes so quickly so it makes you think on your feet and no scene is ever the same from minute to minute.

TPL: Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?

JA: Whilst the equipment is somewhat important to my vision, I see it as just tool! I think the thought behind a shot is more important to the overall outcome of a picture.

Great photography is always on the edge of failure. - Garry Winogrand

TPL: What characteristics do you think you need to become a good photographer? What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?

JA: Obviously a good eye, a sense of humour and loads patience is key. Confidence is also high up on that list as well as trying to be consistent in the fact to try and shoot daily. I think the more you shoot the more you see the little things that you would have missed originally.

TPL: Have you ever been involved in the arts before photography?

JA: I haven’t, no. Although I would have loved to have been the next Jackson Pollock!

TPL: Do you have any favourite artists or photographers you would like to share with us, and the reason for their significance?

JA: This is a hard one as there are so many amazing photographers and artists out there that I would say have influenced myself. However, I love Garry Winogrand’s shooting style and how he composes his shots. I’m also currently really loving Jill Freedman’s work, especially the work from the early 80’s.

TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?

JA: I created a ‘Zine a while ago entitled Strangers, which is a collection of street portraits of Londoners. As for something current, no, nothing at the moment. However I’ve started thinking about certain projects that I would like to photograph for future so watch this space.

TPL: "If I wasn't photographing what would I be doing?...

JA: I’d like to travel more so I would be on a city break somewhere where I haven’t been before."

James has used his camera as a form of self-therapy, his photos capturing the unique moments and perspectives of everyday life and giving a unique look at the world around him. By joining James on his personal journey we can learn more about his observations and experience life through his lens. If you're inspired by James and want to follow his lead, grab a camera and start taking pictures today. You never know what you may capture.

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