In 2017 I will continue to showcase some of the best photographers from our city. In the fourteenth feature in the series, I would like to introduce you to the most prolific photographer in the city, Johnny Black (@_johnny__black__).
Can you tell me a little about yourself, where you are from and your links with Portsmouth?
Hi, my name is Johnny black and yes that is my real name, I’m Portsmouth born and bred, going to Omega Street/Somers Rd School and onto Northern Grammar and St.Lukes. My father was a ‘Dockie’ and helped build the ramp on ‘Lusty’ and Mum worked in St.Mary’s helping deliver more Pompey babies. I’ve lived in Portsmouth most of my life apart from a few years out teaching Skiing in Andorra and Running a building company in Denia, Spain, but my love for Pompey brought me back.
Portsmouth is an ever giving treasure of photographic opportunities…
Do you have a favoured camera or device that you use for your Instagram photography?
I’m a Canon shooter and have a couple of 5d3’s a couple of 6d’s and a couple of 50d’s but most Instagram photos are taken with my pocket-sized Sony a5000 (you can thank Howard Hurd for that) or my iPhone6.
Can you tell me more about your photographic experience, is this something that you’ve studied or maybe a hobby which you’ve developed?
I have had a fascination with cameras all my life, from when my Mum took me to jumble sales and I’d pick up a rangefinder and click and watch the shutter like it had hypnotised me. I did photography at school and that meant developing film after we had gone out shooting, always loved the darkroom. my birthday presents were always camera/lens related my first SLR being the Olympus 0M10, I have never stopped taking photos since and likely never to stop. I went semi-professional a few years back after everyone kept telling me I should and that I could make a fortune from my photos (I’m still waiting) I have been shooting friends weddings for years and now it is my proper job.
Would you say that you take photos more for yourself or for others?
I take photos for both, obviously, the ones I do for Weddings and Portraits or Company websites (headshots/Architecture/product) are for the clients. When I’m shooting Landscapes they are for myself but I love to share them with others.
Exploring the theme of the “Local”, Portsmouth has a wide variety of climatic conditions, buildings and landscapes. Are there any local places or environments that are personal to you or that you love to photograph for a particular reason?
I tag all my Instagram/twitter/facebook photos #LoveMyCity #LoveYourCity. Portsmouth is an ever giving treasure of photographic opportunities, to say I have just one would not be doing the rest of the city justice, from the east side sunrise to the west side sunset and all in between we have an immense amount to capture, The woods of Foxy’s forest, The Historic Dockyard, The Pier, the Locks, the parks and gardens, the people and their surroundings, every bit inspires and motivates me and that is why I love Portsmouth so much.
You certainly know how to capture a great photo of your food. Are there any particular spots in Portsmouth that you recommend the most?
The Tea Tray in Osborne Road, a tardis of a retro cafe with the best people, the best music and most certainly the best food, ask for ‘the Johnny sandwich’ no words can describe it, it is just a feeling.
For the best views and food, it has to be Southsea Beach Cafe right opposite Canoe Lake near to South Parade Pier, What Ian and Melissa have achieved there, is simply amazing.
You have recently given up the rat race to focus on professional photography. How are you feeling about that now you’ve done it and what advice would you give others who are contemplating doing the same?
Don’t, unless you have 6 months mortgage in the bank and full support of family and friends. You won’t make it on talent alone! You have to believe in yourself, gain inspiration from those around you, don’t be precious, if all photos promote one another it creates positivity in photography and people will respect it and see it as the art it is and will buy the work.
In Portsmouth we have some of the best photographers and it shows in the quality being produced, it used to be well known for its seascape artists, but the photographer artists are now on a level par. That along with a thriving street art scene, life is looking good for the city creatives.
Are there any other photographers who either influence you or that you would encourage our readers to also check out?
I am a huge supporter and admirer of our Local photographers, Howard, Andrew, Grzegorz, Dave, Gemma, Elliott, Danielle and so many others they all bring something different to the table which brings us back to how fantastic our city is to photograph.
If you are starting out in photography then YouTube has many helpful tips, my faves are Joe Edelman, Anthony Morganti and Matt Granger.
If you just want to look at photos Michael Muller, Vivian Maier, Kilian Schonberger, Christian Richters. So much more, just look, be inspired, be motivated and be you.
Johnny has two photos in our 2017 Calendar. There are a limited number left but they are still available in store or online at www.strongislandclothingco.com/shop/printed-matter.
If you would like to get involved or know of a photographer that you think should be on our radar then please drop me an email at [email protected].