Photographers in Publishing is a series of interviews that gather insights from those who balance both making and publishing photography.
Interview by Dan Keir –
Jody Daunton co-founded Another Escape – ‘an outdoor lifestyle, creative culture, and sustainable living publication’ – with Rachel Marie Taylor in 2012. This interview sees him discuss photographic ethics, his magazine’s particular aesthetic, and the upcoming projects his team have been working on.
Dan Keir: How did you get into photography?
Jody Daunton: My passion for photography stemmed from when I was young, I’d take a camera out with me on little adventures with my friends. Even back then I really enjoyed the process, and that was before the days of decent digital cameras. By the time I reached college, I’d decided that photography was all I wanted to do and I dedicated myself to it. Following college and after taking a few years out of education to work and travel, I went to Brighton University to study photography. However, it wasn’t until after university that I started to find my own visual voice, and that only really developed once I understood what subject matter I enjoyed shooting – which for me, I discovered, was people-driven narratives, portraiture, and outdoor lifestyle focused content.
DK: What has been your greatest inspiration photographically?
JD: My subscription to National Geographic, which my nan bought me each Christmas as a teenager. It had a profound and lasting impact on my work and preferred subject matter. I didn’t travel abroad until I was about fifteen, so Nat Geo gave me this incredible window into worlds I never knew existed. As well as photographically, I think it helped inspire my curiosity and desire to experience different cultures. I also admired and enjoyed the depth of the articles and the authenticity of the features, which has informed both my photographic practice and Another Escape’s editorial voice to some degree.
DK: You started Another Escape with Rachel in 2012. What were your original aims with this publication, and what has changed since its inception?
JD: Another Escape’s intention has always been to inspire people, and this has held steadfast over the years. What has tightened is our editorial niche: we began looking more at innovative and interesting ways people could be creative in their daily lives, and this naturally gravitated towards focusing on our relationship with the natural world, reflecting both mine and Rachel’s interests as editors. The publication has definitely grown up over the years, the editorial content aims to have real depth and soul – which is often thanks to the people we feature and the writers we work with. We are much more sure of our focus and tone these days and understand our readers much more too.
DK: A recent issue focused on wilderness and interpretations of ‘wild’. How do you decide on a theme each issue?
JD: The themes come pretty organically to be honest. We usually have a number of rough themes planned out for future volumes, and before definitely deciding upon one we’ll scope out the potential stories and examine how successful they’ll be individually and holistically as a volume. We work quite far in advance on volumes, so sometimes we’ll be collecting stories for well over a year before publication.
DK: Another Escape has a particularly cohesive identity, in terms of both its aesthetics and ethics. Has this developed from your own photographic practice or did it emerge from elsewhere?
JD: We’ve worked hard to build a visual voice over the years, and this has been purposely done to emit a tone and feeling when you thumb through the pages: we want people to feel a sense of calm, to slow down, but also feel energised and inspired by the content.
I’m not sure I’d say that this has stemmed directly from my photographic practice, but certainly it has been informed by both mine and Rachel’s worldview and personal ethics – there’s no real way we could separate the two. That said, the aesthetic cohesion you mentioned does come from the imagery we publish, both mine and of other image makers who we like to work with due to their distinct style. We always look to have a high standard of photography, and storytelling is a major part of what we do, so high quality imagery is imperative.
DK: How does this identity inform the selection of features and photographers?
JD: When working on story ideas and deciding if they have legs to be turned into a feature, we consider how the story will play out on the pages and how our readers will interact with it. This also helps determine if we think a feature should be an interview, an essay, or a more involved story. It will also determine the style of visual storytelling we want. We work to a criteria for each volume, and we think hard about how our readers will respond to features, which ensures we have a consistent identity from volume to volume.
DK: Your website mentions the value of producing a ‘tactile object’; a tangible item which can exist in the hands of its readers. What importance does tangibility hold for you in the age of internet publication? Has the decision to publish this way been limiting?
JD: Our reason for wanting to be a printed publication comes hand in hand with the experience we want people to have whilst reading it. If you’re reading an article on your phone, tablet or computer, it’s hard to be properly present and absorbed; ding, an email comes in; ding, your friend texts you. There’s too many distractions. We want to encourage people to put all that stuff down and take time for themselves. Plus, that feeling of thumbing through paper and ink, experiencing it in the three dimensions, is something you can’t beat. And physical copies can be kept and shared, which is something we encourage.
DK: Another Escape recently rebranded, can you talk about the reasons for this and its effect on the magazine?
JD: As I mentioned a little earlier, over the years Another Escape has become much more focused and confident in its content. Our rebrand was driven by our desire to reflect this visually. With such a strong standard of content, we really wanted to elevate the brand through a new identity and refreshed editorial design. To do this, we worked with She Was Only graphic design studio in London, and we are currently working on a new website with Series Eight an independent digital design agency.
Both Rachel and I are compulsively always trying to better Another Escape. We are definitely more methodical now, but that is the result of years of publishing rather than the rebrand. Something else that has also helped our workflow is working with trusted contributors, people that we know work to a high standard and deliver beautiful content.
DK: How do you balance personal photography projects with the growth of the Another Escape brand?
JD: Well, I’d be lying if I said this was easy. In fact, Another Escape has absorbed much of my time; but really, as the creative director, I have a lot of flexibility to work on briefs that are true to me and my photographic style. I would like to dedicate more time to more lengthy personal projects, however the content we produce for Another Escape is all stuff that deeply interests me, so between that and client work I feel satisfied in my photographic work.
DK: The type, quality, and eco-friendly origin of the materials used in your printing process are noted within every volume. Can you explain this further?
JD: It’s important that we work to our own personal values and ethics, as well as the message of the publication. This can be hard sometimes and it’s definitely a learning curve, but we try our best and sustainability is something we are always looking to be better at. Luckily we work with a printers that shares this outlook, Park Communication in London, and for a number of years they’ve won awards for being an environmental printer.
DK: Artisanal products are occasionally advertised in your magazine. Do you see any conflict between a promotion of consumer goods and the responsible use of the world’s natural resources?
JD: Anything that we feature in Another Escape has been chosen because we feel it aligns with our values. At the end of the day, we are realists, and everyone is a consumer. It’s a question of what products we choose to buy, their quality, their production processes, their recycling credentials. We advocate that people buy things that are made to last and in a responsible way – and in our opinion, the more exposure we can give to people who are using the power of business to creative positive change in the world, the better.
DK: Finally; what’s next for you and Another Escape?
JD: In terms of Another Escape, we’ll soon be launching our new website, which has been in the works for some time now. We just published our Altitudes Volume and so next up is our Frozen Volume, which is set to be really great – we’ve really poured a lot of heart and soul into it, as we do with all volumes.
As for my personal and professional practice, I’ll continue to do client work alongside of Another Escape, and will be shooting some personal stuff whilst out in Europe this summer, which I’m really excited by.