Photographs by Jim Eyre
Interview by Ursula Lake
Make chats to photographer Jim Eyre, a London based creative director who says: about himself “ I take pictures with bad cameras and somehow, my images have been shown throughout the UK and around the world”
Q. How did you get into photography?
A. I picked up a camera for a different reason than most. It was primarily to help distract me from personal struggles I was dealing with at the time and I began documenting how I saw the world daily. I didn’t pick up a camera for the love of image making and I personally feel that this possibly comes across in my work and creates an uneasy, subconscious barrier between image and viewer. This is a barrier I’m always trying to break down
Q. How has social media and the accessibility of photography changed what you do?
A. This is a tricky one because social media has a lovely and an awful side. On the lovely side, it has been a beautiful “connector” for me and I have met many artists from around the world and it has also given me an opportunity to share my work, collaborate and celebrate the progress of other artists that I adore and respect. However, for all the goodness there is a profoundly disturbing side. It can be difficult to make work that you know will only be viewed for a brief moment and then disposed of without a care and if you coincide that with an internal pressure to create so to the feed the machine you can end up despising your work and any affection you have for your art. In a blink of an eye, you can lose your focus on what you are trying to do with your art and be taking images for all the wrong reasons. It’s a tricky situation and one I worked on in my recent collaboration and exhibition with @natalie_santafe where we tried to visually challenge the good and bad sides of Instagram.
Q. Your photographs are quite anonymous in terms of their location, Where are you? Do you stumble across the locations organically or is more planned out than that?
A. It’s really exciting to see that you find my work anonymous in their location! It’s a lovely way to describe the images and for me what I hope for when I take them. Knowing exact locations of an image feels like an extra layer and a distraction that takes away from what I’m trying to express in the image. I have lived in London for my whole adult life but I am on the move a lot. My images are simply a diary or what I see daily whilst journeying around. There is absolutely no planning in what I shoot as I know if I did that I wouldn’t be capable of shooting anything through that sort of self-inflicted pressure! It’s hard enough shooting anything without the expectation of going out shoot something in particular.
Q. What is it you are looking for when you are searching for the next shot? Or what make up the key ingredients for one of your photographs and make it uniquely yours?
A. That’s an interesting question because I don’t think I’m searching for anything if I’m honest in my work. Personally, taking a picture is a way of passing time for me. The images are simply scenes and observations I see that have nothing to them visually but seem fitting for an emotion I’m feeling at the time. Recently I have heard and been told that my work is easily identifiable I never know if this is a good or bad thing because does that mean I’m not progressing and shooting safe or is it a compliment that my work is identifiably mine. Do you think it has a unique style…I don’t know?
Q. Your photographs feature desolate urban, public spaces, but never feature anyone in them; is it almost like reverse wildlife photography! Do you have to be patient to get your shot?
A. It would be interesting to show the reality of these images and what is just either side of the frame. That said I’m sure you can picture what is happening, so maybe there is no need to tell you…and leave it for your imagination to tell its own stories!
Q. Talk me through the thought process of how you title each shot if you can?
A. This is a tough question! The images have always been documented to try and capture an emotion I’m feeling at the time and the title is there to help tell this story. I’m not good at writing and this is simply why a single word is used. I guess however in my mind if I can’t say what I’m trying to say in a word I’m failing somewhere.
Q. You seem to love a collaboration having recently collaborated with the photographer Natalie Santafe and the designer Paul Smith. Tell us about those experiences and how they happened?
A. Collaborations are nothing new in the art world but I find them interesting for all sorts of reasons but mainly because I don’t like my images. Working and learning from others and producing something new and unique, is both fascinating and inspiring. Photography is also a lonely medium, so to share experiences with others seems a logical and progressive way to tackle these feelings.
My recent collaboration with a Natalie (@natalie_santafe) still amazes me. Natalie is a phenomenal artist who is making huge headway in the art world, I noticed she had engaged in collaborations with others and being such a huge fan of her work I thought I put it all on the line and ask her if she would consider working with me. Thankfully she said yes and after a many a ‘direct message’ chat on Instagram over 9 months alteredstates/alteredscapes was conceived and then exhibited in London. Natalie and I are still working together and have developed this collaboration further for another show in New Mexico in September this year.
YELLOW with Paul Smith was born out of a conversation in a lift I had with Paul about the colour. We discovered in this short time together we had a common love for the colour YELLOW in that it made us smile! We then shared our images with each other for over a year until Paul decided to exhibit our story in his stores. Incredibly the show has now traveled around the world and the exhibition’s next stop is Paris!
Q. Is there a photograph that you would have loved to have taken?
A. This is a really hard question to answer. It’s hard because I don’t study photography or follow it because I have no photographic education or history. My journey has only just started really so I’m learning what I like and what I would like to own one day. I’ve never thought about wishing I had taken a picture because I’m not sure that will progress my own work but instead I do really love celebrating others images. There are so many incredible photographers out there so I’m just glad to be able to follow along and see their work daily.
Q. What is coming up for you next in terms of your photography life?
A. As well as the Paul Smith show’s, this year also sees some other collaborative projects. I’m really excited about one with the stunningly talented artist and poet Robert Mongomery and the other with a hero of mine Javier Kaplan (@montykapalan) so watch this space!
Q. The theme of this issue is Happiness, what makes you happy?
A. If I am, to be honest, what does make me genuinely happy is to see others succeed and achieve their goals whether it be photographically or in their life ambitions.
To see more of Jim’s work visit his Instagram posts here