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Studio Visit - James Needham

Studio Visit - James Needham

Studio Visit with James Needham

We are thrilled to introduce James Needham to the Tappan family! Needham’s unique photographic practice explores image construction, and  hyper-realistic portraits of the urban landscape. Read on to explore his work and philosophy....

Q.

Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an artist…

A.

My mother gave me the OM1 that she used to teach high school art classes and shoot with herself. After that photography was just always a part of my identity. Photography club, work experience at a print lab, art school and after that almost every job I had, from painting Cycloramas to lighting to digital tech, had to do with photography.

 

Q.

Describe your work in three words…

A.

Line. Shape. Colour

 

Q.

What is your creative process?

A.

If I was to break it down in to 3 steps, they would be. Shoot. Edit. Compose. I find a location I like and then photograph it in various states. I change crop, angle, include different figures and wait to see how the shadows change. Then I go through the images back at my studio and select which elements I like. I combine from different photos or subtract parts I find too distracting. I have no interest in documentation. I want to create images.

Q.

Explain the concept of image construction?

A.

Combining elements from different images to create the most pleasing one.

 

Q.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

A.

Anything visual. I find composition and the choices people make behind it captivating. There’s a limited amount of space within a viewfinder or on a canvas and what someone chooses to fill it with says so much about them and what they were feeling at the time. It’s like a Rorschach test we create ourselves

 

Q.

How do you balance your commercial and artistic practices?

A.

By constantly missing deadlines.

James Needham says

“I find composition and the choices people make behind it captivating. There’s a limited amount of space within a viewfinder or on a canvas and what someone chooses to fill it with says so much about them and what they were feeling at the time. It’s like a Rorschach test we create ourselves.”

Q.

You have lived in lots of different cities across the globe. How do your surroundings affect you work?

A.

I don’t move my home as much as I used to but my work is based entirely on exploring new environments so I do travel a lot. I never appreciate home as much as when I’ve been traveling and I always get restless when I’ve been home for too long… Basically I can only be content in 2 week increments.

  

Q.

Is art making therapeutic for you?

A. 

Sometimes, except when I feel like a complete fraudulent good for nothing never amount to anything won’t have another good idea for the rest of my stupid idiot.

 

Q.

What country do you wish to visit?

A. 

Ireland.

   

Q.

What makes you laugh no matter what?

A.

The radio show Car Talk. I love it.

Q.

What's something you will not be doing in 10 years?

A.

Snoozing, I hope. I’ve got a terrible sleeping habit.

 

Q.

What's one thing you still have from your childhood?

A.

Fairy Winkles (They’re tiny little forest fairies with sparkles)

 

Q.

When do you make your best work?

A.

Late morning/early afternoon. Anytime after 11 I guess. It takes me forever to wake up. Hence the snoozing problem.

 

Q.

What are your other hobbies?

A.

Boxing and dancing and making anything in general, any craft anytime. And aspiring to be a back yard mechanic.

 

Q.

What’s next for you?

A.

I’m going to Sweden to paint for a few weeks.

About James Needham

The artist’s compositions form a hyper-realistic portrayal of urban scenes, while the addition of a solitary figure or vehicle disrupts this tranquility and injects a sense of loneliness. The combination of both creates a calming beauty.

 

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About James Needham

James Needham is an Australian photographer, who currently lives and works in New York City. After graduating from the Photography Studies College in Melbourne in 2005, he spent several years working in London and Paris before heading to the United States in 2011. Needham first began working in fashion photography, but was mesmerized by America’s urban landscapes, which he began to document. Struck by how empty an overcrowded city could often appear, he was captivated by the quiet, isolated spaces tourists often travel through, rather than to. Utilizing the bright and saturated style of urban landscape painters such as Edward Hopper and Jeffrey Smart, Needham set out to photograph New York through a different lens, rendering it almost unrecognizable once stripped it of its most notable characteristic – the inhabitants. As his focus expanded beyond the city, the graphic aesthetic remained. The calming composition of shape and color combine to form a hyper-realist portrayal of urban scenes, while the addition of a solitary figure or vehicle disrupts this tranquility and injects a sense of loneliness. The combination of both creates a calming beauty.

STATEMENT

“The focus of my work varies a lot, but the aesthetic is the connective tissue. I’m interested in line and shape and color, all of which combine to make up my subject matter.

 

My desire to create imagery is what drives me, rather than a need to document. This has led to a process of combining elements from different images – sometimes taken from the same scene and sometimes lifted from completely different locations and times. Foreground and background are interchanged in order to create the most visually pleasing image. It’s equal parts shooting and editing. Once I find a location I like, I’ll post up and photograph it for a while, making sure to capture different examples of composition, traffic and shadow movement. Then when I’m reviewing the images I see which elements work best, eliminating and combining to create what is to me the most visually satisfying image.

 

I find inspiration in film and paintings more than other bodies of photographic work. I like to translate aspects of those media to photography, such as the careful composition of a painting and the storytelling of cinema. I think the most interesting thing about any type of visual media is how the person who created it chooses to frame their subject. There’s a limited amount of space within a viewfinder and what you choose to fill it with says a lot about you and what you were feeling at that time. It’s like a Rorschach test that you create yourself.” - James Needham

 

EDUCATION

2017, Photography Studies College. Melbourne, Australia.

 

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2016, Subjectively Objective Group. Detroit, MI
2017, Modern Blocks - Group Exhibition. Brussels, Belgium

2018, Milk Gallery. New York, NY  

 

PUBLICATIONS

2016, Obscure Land

2016, Noice Magazine

2016, Nylon Korea

2017, Paper Journal

2017, Art Maze Magazine

2018, Visual Voices Magazine