Interview: Simon Edward Johns

Simon Edward Johns - Poster 2

Simon Edward Johns is a portrait photographer living in Exeter. His exhibition is at the Glorious Art House until May 16, where you can see the world of rock ‘n’ roll, beautifully captured in a unique perspective.

What sparked your passion for photography?
The magic of watching of a blank piece of paper turn into a photograph. Watching a musician playing on stage, and seeing a room full of people turn into some kind of merry-go-round. Somewhere between these things, my passion was synthesised.

What’s the inspiration behind the portraits in the exhibition?
All of them were unplanned. The happiest, most joyful moments are the ones that produced the pictures that people seem to like the most… and I’m no longer shy to say I like my pictures too. They’re memories, they remind me. For example, the hoody one [as seen in the poster above] is from my time living with my friend Glenn. It was after college and we lived in a weird little flat, and there were days where we would just sit and listen to Pink Floyd. There was all this angst – how to get money, how to get a job, whether I was able to do photography instead. We went out one day, and I always carried my camera with me back then. I took some pictures and came across that angle, the silhouette, and I had this weird feeling that it was some sort of mysterious, urban youth. It’s a black and white figure wearing a hoody in an urban environment. It’s a complete disguise – just a basic outline.

What about the inspiration behind the candy floss picture, on the cabinet by the window?
I was in London visiting my dad, and I had some time left before I had to catch the train, so I was just wandering around. I saw them and at first, I was nervous thinking that they might see me, but it was also exciting. Their facial expressions were captured at perfecting timing. It’s a different experience taking pictures of strangers in London – in Exeter, you feel like you can because it’s your town.

You write, you play music. In what way do they affect your photography?
As much as I think, I’ve never thought about it like that. The effect things have on my photography – I have no idea. I don’t see my photography as a ‘thing’ at all – it’s just there. I used to be so obsessed with my camera when I thought that was my way out of the vision of working minimum wage all my life. I thought this machine was my golden ticket to another lifestyle. I was turning up to studio parties wearing flares and having long hair, thinking “I’m not working for the man, I’m going to be a hippy – even if it’s just taking photographs of people who are living a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Even if I’m just the producer of the ephemera of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.” And then, funnily enough, that can be described as a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle too. I had to be involved. I had to know what it felt like. It all merges into one thing – one continuum. All you’re effecting is the way your ego illustrates your frustration with that false dichotomy.

Check out for more of Simon’s work here.

Nickie Shobeiry

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