Skip to main content

There is no magic formula - Jack Lawson

7 years ago

Jack Lawson is a London based freelance photographer, specialising mainly in personality portraiture. He has worked with individuals from all walks of life - from musicians and politicians to craftsmen and CEOs. He has a number of editorial and commercial clients, as well as working on his own personal projects.

He was shortlisted in the Open Smile category of the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards.


Hi Jack. Thanks for chatting with us. Tell us a little about you

I am a 28 year old photographer based in London. I would say that the majority of my work is portraiture and reportage, but I end up taking pictures of everything. I grew up in London and love being in the city but I am glad that through work I have been able to travel to some beautiful places and photograph some amazing people.

Talk to us about your shortlisted image from the 2016 competition - it is full of joy and elation

I was lucky enough to travel to Ghana for a job at the end of 2015, an beautiful place with such lovely and friendly people. It is an incredibly photogenic country but the photos I enjoyed taking the most were of the children. As we travelled around to new areas we were always met by excited children from the local villages. We were in some pretty remote areas and the sight of us was usually quite a novelty - the children were always smiling and laughing and dancing around us. This image was taken as soon as I got out of our vehicle while the children were still running over to greet us. They loved the camera and being able to see themselves on the screen. I think because they weren’t so used to having pictures taken of them, their expressions were much more natural and so what comes across was their genuine show of emotion.


Why photography?

I have always needed a creative outlet and from my teens onwards that has been photography, portraiture especially. I love the variety that photography brings as every day offers new opportunities. For me it is a chance to try to show people how I see the world but also I find that it pushed me harder to look at the world in a more interesting way and to really concentrate on the incredible things going on around us everyday. I don’t believe that photography is something you can ever completely master so I love the fact that I am always learning and improving. Photography has given me such a great opportunity to explore the world and a chance to meet some really interesting people.


What makes a great portrait?

This is always a difficult question as there is no one thing that makes a great portrait, but I think that is what makes it so interesting. There is no magic formula. It could be a quick snap taken on your phone or it could take days of set up in a studio with a medium format camera and expensive lighting. For me, I always try to get to know the person I am photographing so I can try to portray something about their character, something personal to them. I try not to go into a photoshoot with too firm an idea of how I want to shoot it, so that way I can adapt to the person in front of me. I think a great portrait should try to show something more than just the physical features of the person, and as with all good photographs it should provoke some sort of emotion in the viewer.

Where in the world are you and what's next for you?

I’m in London at the moment but just got back from a trip photographing North America and the Caribbean for a travel company. I’m trying to line up a few more trips abroad but I am also working on producing some personal projects a little closer to home.