It’s not far off the mark to say that Michael Spencer Jones defined the look of Britpop. He was the man who shot all the famous album covers of Oasis, the Verve and many others, and he was also ensconced with Oasis in their early groundbreaking days on tour.
Now Michael Spencer Jones is our very special guest at the indieBerlin Photo exhibition taking place in the Music and Lifestyle Hotel nhow Berlin. We’re thrilled and over the moon with joy!
His pieces were shown first in the Albert Hall, then in our favourite Bar Posh Teckel and now some different pieces will be shown together with Mia Morris and Caterina Gili’s photographs for indieBerlin!
We have been very lucky to have been able to ask him some questions for you – our own artists’ readers – for our artist support section.
Learn the craft of photography. It’s also great fun!
indieBerlin: so many people take photos today and Berlin seems to be a photographer’s city especially. Do you think you have to study photography and know how to shoot analogue before becoming a “proper” photographer?
Michael Spencer Jones: In a short answer yes; some photography is instinctive but you also need to learn the craft of photography. If you were a cabinet maker for example it is not enough to have a design in your head, you need to know the artistry and craft involved in making that cabinet, i.e what kind of glue to use, what type of wood, what chisels etc, photography is no different to that, you are crafting an image, whether you are setting that image up or capturing an image by paying attention to the composition or quality of light.
You also need a ‘visual vocabulary’; you may be the best writer in the world but if you can’t read and write who’s going to know. Shakespeare would still have been Shakespeare if he had been illiterate but he wouldn’t have written all those amazing plays. So it is important to look at the work of great photographers and understand what elements makes their pictures great. I also think it is important, in this digital age, to use and experiment with film and also to at least have a basic understanding of how analogue images are created in a darkroom. It’s also great fun!
indieBerlin: how did you start selling your photographs?
Michael Spencer Jones: On the railings of my local park when I was a teenager. A momentous occasion for me.
Photography is not easy, you have to work at it to get results.
indieBerlin: did you ever have a photo session with someone where the human side didn’t work out? And if so how did you go about it?
Michael Spencer Jones: Not quite sure what you mean, but sometimes shoots can be awkward and they don’t work out but you have to persevere with them and apply yourself and work your way through the problem maybe try a different approach. Photography is not easy, you have to work at it to get results.
Your piece of advice for a young photographer starting out in the music or art scene?
Michael Spencer Jones: Well, my advice is ‘to thine own self be true’ … trust your instincts and if something looks good it probably is good; but as I said in a previous question learn your craft and study other photographers, don’t be afraid to experiment, push the boundaries, ignore the rules, it’s not open heart surgery nobody’s is going to die if you take a crap photo.
photography is all about communication with the viewer
indieBerlin: How important is a sense of visionary concept in your works?
Michael Spencer Jones: In photographs where there needs to be visionary concept it’s very important, but virtually all images have some level of visionary concept. Symbolism is important because you are communicating ideas and photography is all about communication with the viewer; without a viewer we would not be taking pictures.
The indieBerlin THE PHOTOS exhibition:
18. february – 31. march
Music and Lifestyle Hotel nhow Berlin
Stralauer Allee 3
Interview by Mia Morris / photos: Michael Spencer Jones
Mia Morris is co-founder of indieberlin and a Berlin native. She has been active in the Berlin arts scene since the early zeroes as photographer and visual artist, also under the name Funkyrotic. Mia Morris also runs ocular-online.de which specialises in SEO marketing and website optimisation.