Originally from South Shields in the north-east of England, a young John migrated with his family to Australia. Now living in Adelaide, the capital city of Australian state South Australia, he feels blessed to be able to live in such a wonderful country. He is addicted to good coffee, and this, is where he started his photographic journey, taking pictures of his coffee with his mobile phone. He soon progressed to photographing architecture in and around Adelaide before stumbling into the genre of street photography. With a couple of exhibitions, including one solo, and a few photography awards, this passion for street photography has opened up a door and taken him down a path that John never thought was possible.
What is your favourite quote that resonates with you the best?
"One Time - One meeting - One Moment" "Nil Satis Nisi Optimum" - Nothing but the best is good enough.
When did you start getting interested in photography?
I’ve always been interested in taking pictures but it was only whenever we went on holiday or for that 'special occasion'. But June 2018 is when the interest became a passion.
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from a number of sources. Mainly from the beauty of everyday things, light and shadow, other famous photographers and many not so famous photographers that I follow on Instagram and Facebook.
Who are your favourite artists/photographers? Who has mostly influenced your style?
Some because of how I see the world and others because of their immense ability to see it differently.
Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
Yes, I started by taking pictures of coffee with my phone and images of buildings with no human elements in the frame! So I would certainly say that my style has changed and developed since I first started.
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
Anywhere and everywhere and at any given time of the day or night. If I have my camera with me then that’s the time to shoot. So pretty much all of the time as I have my camera with me a lot!
Do you think equipment is important in achieving your vision in your photography? What would you say to someone just starting out?
They say the best camera to use is the one you have on you! That might even be the one on your phone. Mark Fearnley is a street photographer from London. He’s taken some amazing images on the streets of Japan. I just watched a recent interview where he said some of his best shots that he’s ever taken were using his phone as that was all he had on him at the time. I had no idea that the shots he was referring to were taken using a phone! I bought a cheapish Nikon D3400 when I decided to take the plunge June 2018 and buy my first ever DSLR camera. I had no idea how to use it so I just twiddled the knobs until I got a half decent image and watched a lot of YouTube for hints and tips. I then bought a 35mm prime lens which was difficult to master at first as I was forced to learn how to frame my shots instead of just zooming in with my 18-55 kit lens. The quality was far better too but that’s because I was forced to get closer to my subjects.
No matter the camera the principles are the same. If you can master those principles first before shopping for a more expensive camera then you’re onto a winner. In saying that I did end up buying an Fujifilm XT3 which I just love! Love! Love! But I don’t use it too anywhere near it’s full capabilities! But I do love the feel of it, the manner in which the exposure triangle (SS/ISO/A) are set out etc. The Fuji colour science is also stunning in my honest opinion too.
What characteristics do you think you need to become a photographer? What’s your tips or advice for someone in your genre?
Passion / Patience / Tenacity / Eye / Creativity / Belief in yourself...but most of all have your camera with you all of the time. All the technical skills will come from taking shots or be learnt….YouTube is your friend!
Have you ever been involved in the artistic world before photography?
No. If you were to ask me 20 months ago if I was artistic or creative then I would have said No Way Jose! It’s not that I didn’t want to be but more to do with not knowing where to look. Thankfully photography has taken me down a road that I never knew was there and for that I’m truly grateful.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
1. I was honoured to have been asked to become a founding member of the Pictorial List
2. I’ve just been accepted to be the SA Rep for Fuji X Aus + Admin for their FB page
3. I’m currently one of the Admin’s for the Henri Cartier Bresson FB group
4. I started a small group for Adelaide creatives to come together to initially give street photography a go but this has now grown so that other photographers can share their skills with participating members within the group should they wish to learn.
If I wasn’t photographing what would I be doing?...
Who knows! Probably still taking pics of coffee with my phone and writing shop shop reviews! Ummm coffeeeeeee…..
John is one of the TPL founding members. Thanks John for the insight into your photography journey! You can see more of John's street photography by following him on Instagram. Visit his profile here on the website.
All photographs are the property of artist © John Staines