Born in Bristol, England, John Hicks always preferred everything but the conventional route of education. He left left school with poor grades and nothing but an interest in photography that had simply stemmed from the ownership of a Kodak Instamatic at age 10.
If you would ask him what he does professionally, he would say :
“I travel, take photos and stick them in albums!”
Having worked on numerous global advertising campaigns and done a significant amount of international business, Digital Photographer recently nominated him one of the top names in editorial and advertising photography and 2009 saw him honored with inclusion in the prestigious Creative Review Annual.
Q. You say you were never a big fan of school and teaching manners. How is that?
A. I guess the state school system failed me and I failed it. I was good at art and sport and that’s it.
Q. What enthralled you with photography that you couldn´t find elswhere?
A. I got into photography as a kid. On family holidays i would take endless photos of everything and anything and spend hours arranging them in albums. My dad was a chemist so it always was easy to get my stuff processed for free. and later I made a darkroom in the broom cupboard and did it all myself. My dad loved to shoot super 8 movies of me and my sister. I remember one shot he set up where one moment I was riding the swings and the next I’d disappeared and only the empty swing was left – riding the breeze. Stuff like that sticks in my mind even today.I can’t rememember when or why photography became an obsession for me but it did and while it can be the most frustrating, all consuming passion when it all comes good (the light, composition, decisive moment, the energy) its like electricity passing through your body and there is no better feeling.
Q. How would you define your work? What do your photos say about you?
A. It’s difficult to define because I’m always trying to evolve and move forward. I’ve always been interested in the decisive moment and motion capture but now I find myself more drawn to environmental portraits of people that really inspire me and lately these shots have had a still and quiter quality to them.I like to find beauty in everything – even decay…I’m not sure that my photos say more than this is me – what I do and what i see and how i feel. I can live with that.
Q. Do you have any expectations with your work? What do you actively try to express?
A. Right now the only expectation I have of my work is to ENJOY it and to feel proud of what I do. My photography won’t change the world but it does serve as a way for me to communicate with a huge amount of people and to try to capture a series of personal emotions and themes that are central to my pictures – hope, beauty, struggle, pride, rebellion, honesty, integrity, energy, life.
Q. You are currently on a project with HDSLR video, can you tell us a bit more about this?
A. HDSLR video is such an amazing thing to have happened to photography because it opens up so many opporuntiies. I’d dabbled in film making before but the costs/time/team needed to pull it off were prohibitive but now i can shoot stills and video with the same camera!I’m putting together a show reel of my stuff and finishing up a couple of 3 minutes films I made that allow me to explore more of my cinematic eye and the audio visual medium of visual storytelling – it’s exciting!!
Q. You started your own workshops called AVISUALI, how did you come up with that?
A. Avisuali – I’ve always been interested in sharing knowledge and working in the States I came across a lot of really well respected photographers doing workshops and pooling information. it was ike a revelation because up until then the professional photographers i’d met were totally paranoid and always worried that someone was out to steal their shots or lighting set up. A lot of photographers will even keep a closed set because of this but I’ve never had a problem with sharing info.I love to communicate and some friends would say i talk too much but I believe that an open mind will keep you fresh, vibrant and energized and I have as much to learn as the next man. So it got me thinking…..I have an amazing beach house on Lanzarote in the Cananry islands. i’ve travelled the world on shoots and struggled to find better light and or locations than those outside my front door so why not open those doors to others as interested in photography as I am.Check out more info www.avisuali.com
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. I’m currently in post production on a short film I’ve made called Last Man Standing about a 70 year old boxer reliving the glory moments of his past while coming to terms with the inevitability of time and the toll it takes on your body,mind,spirit.I’m also working on a series of portraits in the twilight zone, wrapping up my show reel and experimenting with time lapse.
Q. What do you hope to achieve for the rest of 2010? How do you think Pelime might help!?
A. I guess I just want to feel proud of what i try to do -even if I fall short or fail to do it I want to try to challenge myself as much as I can and keep moving forward. ….Pelime and other networks like you can help me with this because I have a terrible habit of ‘once i’ve pressed the shutter button i know instinctively if i have a good shot or not and I’ve never really been into archiving my work or portfolio presentations, etc because i’m so focused on the next shot but when i spend time and hook up with like minded people i always wish i did a little more to collate my own photography into a body of work. Also i love feedback so here’s hoping i get better at this!