Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Hywel Jones - A Minimalist Sensibility
Hywel Jones relies on simplicity and spontaneity to create images that reveal a keen appreciation of form and beauty
Although he may have stumbled into the profession, Jones' success has been no accident. He spent a few months working with that photographer, took a short course in college, and ultimately moved to London where he assisted two prominent commercial photographers. Jones has been working hard at finding his way in this profession ever since, and a portfolio brimming with beautiful images proves that somewhere along the line he stopped slacking off and set his mind to work. Jones attributes much of his success to a mindset he picked up in those early days as an assistant.
"They taught me all I needed to know to get started in about a week," he says of his first employers. "They had an amazing ability to cut through the bullshit and concentrate on the simple techniques needed to be a professional photographer. So armed with one Elinchrom and a Nikon 35mm, I started shooting portraits for magazines in London.
"I spent the first 10 years [of my career] as a portrait photographer for magazines, lured by celebrity and the high life," he explains. "But I really became disillusioned. The reality was 90 percent business portraits in some industrial estate, photographing someone who really didn't want to be photographed in ugly offices and usually with an art director over my shoulder telling me what ƒ–number to use! I don't know how I lasted so long at it before deciding around seven years ago that I had to completely change the way I work."
That change took Jones from a regular assignment photographer to a beauty photographer, generating his own jobs. He now could handle everything from concept to execution, postproduction to sales. He was able to photograph the subjects that interested him, in the style in which he wanted to work, and distribute the photographs through his online library of images, The Beauty Archive.
"I remortgaged the house, took on a full–time assistant and started my own library," says Jones. "Now I have 100 percent control over what I shoot, when I shoot and how I shoot, only working on a handful of commercial jobs when an interesting project comes up. It enables me the freedom that I always needed within photography, and I find it very easy to motivate myself because of this freedom. I think of it as just shooting personal work and letting the worldwide agents do the selling. I don't feel forced to take on every job just for the money."
This self–directed method has allowed Jones to master his singular personal style. He has excelled specifically because he's shooting what interests him, what he loves. His business is ultimately more prosperous and he's finding creative fulfillment in his work—an enviable position for any photographer.
"I think shooting mostly ugly subjects in ugly locations with bad art directors was enough to kill anyone's creativity," Jones recalls of his early years. "So when confronted by beautiful models in beautiful locations with complete creative control, everything fell into place. Since the moment I changed direction, it all developed very naturally."
That natural progression would have followed a different path were it not for recent technological innovations. Not only does Jones rely on digital post–production to produce the subtle perfection required for his subjects, but his business relies on the Internet to flourish. It has allowed his library to sell itself and has exposed his work to potential customers worldwide.
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