It’s never too late to start… Photography inspiration | Terence S. Jones

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How did you start photography?
I “started” photography a couple of times. In the beginning I shot a lot of film in my youth but quickly had to realize that I did not have the means for shooting film in a sustainable way. I then took a break from photography for about 9 years and got really serious in my early twenties again.

Tell us what are you into besides take photos?
I am intrigued by everything and anything that is authentic and real – from movies to languages. I have little patience for the artificial. I feel that life is often very detached and artificial and I search for the real and authentic. Often with my photography this leads to an impasse with clients that often look for highly stylized and photoshopped images whereas I prefer a natural raw look. I also prefer to work with models that are interesting by not following the same cookie cutter mold.

Who is your favorite photographer?
A tough question: it is multiple, they are still alive, and good friends of mine and I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. Also, they are not the usual suspects. I am much more intrigued by living photographers than the standard dead idols that every photographer seems to w(h)or(e)ship. The reason for this is manyfold however the most important thing for me is that a photographer (or any artist for that matter) should not be an anticlimax to their work: the person and their work have to complement each other naturally. I just love to interact with photographers and see their vision of the world extending into their work. That’s impossible to do with dead idols.

More generally, I like photography that captures the world in its context. Street photography is surely one part, but I am also very fascinated by portrait photography that manages to capture some unique and defining characteristic of a person. There is a whole gang of Japanese and Korean photographers that are really good at this – much better than the over-stylized American swimsuit approach. They often shoot film, their work is unedited and raw, and you look at it and it feels like you are there.

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How do you stay inspired to shoot when life has the upper hand?
I very regularly go out and shoot. I am in the lucky position of having enough time to dedicate to photography without the pressure of doing assignments I am not interested in: no weddings (except for a very good friend of mine), no babyshowers, no senior portraits, etc. However, if I am low on inspiration I go either go to an exhibition of some of my friends (I need the personal connection together with the work) or stalk them on instagram for some inspiration. I also get a lot of inspiration simply from reading about photography.

I am not a bit fan of the no-time excuse. The average American commutes about 1 hour *every day*. That is about 4% of your daily time. Dead time that you will never get back. Doesn’t matter how many audiobooks you listen too, or whether you convince yourself you are winding down… Take another 4% to do photography and create a positive outlet for yourself.

Did you grow up with a large family?
Relatively large by today’s standards. We were three.

What’s the biggest city you’ve been to?
I think that is probably Tokyo.

What’s your most favorite city to visit?
I think that is probably Tokyo as well.

What city do you have on your list to go to before you die?
That list is really long. For example, I have Havana, Seoul, Taipei, and Rio on my list. But the list is really long. I like visiting different cities and actually live in them for a limited amount of time. Say somewhere between 3 – 6 months to get a feel for a city.

What advice would you give another photographer looking to succeed?
I think the most important thing is to just go out and shoot and not to be afraid to present your early work. “Your first 10000 photographs are the worst” – Henri Cartier-Bresson. It seems like a triviality but there is a lot of truth in it. Also, I think it is very important to acknowledge that skills are nothing that one is born with but something that can and will improve over time.

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Finally, success comes from standing out and not fitting in. I urge any young photographer to search for their own voice. It is ok to play the imitation game in the beginning to hone one’s skills but at some point the “unlearning” has to kick in and we need to find our own way. I think every successful photographer that I know – and likes etc is not a metric here! – has managed to define and cultivate their own voice. That’s why I look at *their* work and not the one of someone else. Because it is unique.

How can we follow you online?
The best way to follow me is on instagram under @terencesjones or on 500px under “terencesjonesphotography”. The former is more travel and leisure oriented, the latter more portraits etc.

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