Interview by Harry Flook –
Jonathan made our Portrait Page back in issue 6, with his image from The Runway Stops Here. In this interview he shares his thoughts and advice on commissioned work, then discusses how the camp at Grow Heathrow developed into a body of work that has kept his attention for 6 years.
Harry Flook: What have you been up to since your feature in issue 6?
Jonathan Goldberg: I spent quite a lot of time on personal work last year, and this year I’ve been trying to focus more on getting commissioned work.
HF: A large part of your commissioned work is environmental portraiture. What is your process with that type of a brief?
JG: I make sure that I know what my client requires, and how much time and constraints I have at a particular job. Then my aim is to establish a rapport with the subject, before or as I’m considering lighting. I often work with off-camera flash as it’s lightweight, unobtrusive and impactful.
HF: Have you got a favourite portrait you’ve shot commercially?
JG: I shot an editorial portrait of Sadiq Khan, which is useful to have in my portfolio as he’s a high profile politician, and I think it conveys some of the integrity that came across to me at the time. The picture has the aforementioned off-camera flash and a relevant background showing the supreme court, and has visual impact. I very much enjoy taking environmental portraits.
HF: The portrait of Sarah in Issue 6 was from your project The Runway Stops Here. Tell us about that project, how did it come about and what have you learned shooting it?
JG: It started when I became interested in how people can make a positive impact on the environment on a local level. I found out about Transition Towns; small volunteer-led groups that organise and promote initiatives around sustainable living. My local group, Transition Kensal to Kilburn for example has a fruit harvesting project whereby local people pick apples from trees which would otherwise go to waste. Grow Heathrow is an extension of this, where residents live off-grid in a way that is in harmony with the environment.
I was passionate about this subject. To undertake a personal photography project there needs to be a passion and commitment for the work to resonate with others.
HF: Are you considered a part of that community yourself now, having photographed there for so much of its existence?
JG: This particular community is quite transient; people stay for weeks, months, several years perhaps then move on. When I started shooting 6 years ago there were completely different people residing here. I feel I’ve been touched by the values of the place, and feel affinity with others that have spent time there. But since I took my last picture there 16 months ago I haven’t been back.
HF: Have you got any exciting shoots or projects planned for the near future?
JG: I have tentatively started a new project since Grow Heathrow, but it’s still developing and finding it’s feet – so I can’t say too much about it at this stage. I’m considering grant applications to enable me to devote more time to personal work. Regarding commissions, every week is a challenge!
HF: Good luck with that challenge, and with the new project, we look forward to seeing it.
Issue 6 is still available to purchase from our online store.