The greatest stories are always, at heart, about people. Today, in the overwhelming and overpopulated Asian megacities it can be hard to find individuality amongst the chaos. British photographer Jasper James has traveled around these places and created a beautiful project entitled "City Silhouettes." These pictures add a highly personal perspective to the vast, anonymous landscapes of Tokyo, Shenzhen and Shanghai. James has also been commissioned by a range of clients including British Airways, Vanity Fair, Ferrari and more.
On Getting Started:
"I've been involved with photography for about 20 years. I spent three years on the London College of Printing photography degree course in the early 90's, followed by five years working as a photo assistant to various photographers in London and New York. For the past twelve years I've been working as a photographer in various different areas of commercial photography, including portraiture, interiors, fashion,
What Makes a Subject Matter Compelling?
"For me, it's more a case of my engagement with the world around me. Whether it's a commercial shoot or a personal project, I just try to engage with it and see what images come out of that interaction. I think my approach to making images is fairly relaxed--there is no big game plan. My approach and interest in a subject matter is more laid back and reserved."
"In my portraits, travel and interiors work it's a case of being commissioned and then turning up at the location. I don't like to pre-plan, so it's a case of working in a spontaneous way with the conditions at hand. There is usually very little post-production to the images as I don't like them to look too worked on."
"With the City Silhouettes series, there was a plan of location, subjects and an idea of what I'd like to achieve with the images. Most of the work is achieved in camera. Afterwards, it's more a case of tweaking the contrast and colours."
An ideal Photoshoot?
"I don't really have an ideal photo shoot. Every shoot is different. It could be more of a set up production or it could be completely spontaneous. I just enjoy the experience of taking photographs on assignment. I think when someone is being photographed, they are usually not in their natural state, they are aware of being photographed and this has an effect on how they act. I try to work with the mood of the subject but might give direction if I felt they weren't relaxed or the situation felt wrong in some way."
About your City Silhouettes Series...
"The series City Silhouettes came about from travelling around various Asian cities, particularly Tokyo and Shenzhen. It was a case of trying to make images that played with the emotions and ideas that wandering around these mega-cities brought up. I knew I wanted to make some photos high above that played with the vast scale of the city but I was also interested in the mass of people that live and work in these cities. I thought it would be more interesting to try and combine the two in one image. From there it was a case of playing around with ideas until I hit upon something that I thought worked visually.
I also wanted to take images that were aware of the negative side of large modern cities, but captured my interest in living in these places. I was born in London and at different times have also lived in New York, Tokyo and Beijing. I've always felt the gravitational pull of a city, with it's mixture of excitement, freedom, anonymity and promise and I wanted to make photographs that reflected those feelings."
How did you end up in China?
"I came to China first in 2009, working with Getty Images on some Advertising shoots. They had a photography Agency called Orchard (which has since shut down) within Getty images that was finding me work there. I liked the experience of working in China and decided to stay."
"I'm always interested in seeing new parts of the world. I think any place that is off the "Generic Brand" map is always more interesting. It can get a little repetetive travelling around the world and always ending up in an environment that features Starbucks, Apple, Gap, and so on."
"The most rewarding part of my job is that I never know what the next commission will be or where it will lead me. I get paid to engage with the world around me, usually on my own terms in a way that is enjoyable. I feel very fortunate."
Visit Jasper James for more photos and info.