Creative Careers: Photography
Judith Rita Nanyonga pays homage to London’s creative crowd.
In this interview, she speaks to Brunel Johnson, a street, commercial, sports, lifestyle, and documentary photographer who hails from North West London. Shortly after studying mathematics at university, Brunel picked up the camera… or as he himself describes, ‘It chose me, it all happened by accident’.
J: You stated that photography ‘chose’ you. I’d love to hear about how it happened.
B: I was never into anything creative besides anime and mangas, until the day a photographer cancelled on an event and I found out how much they were supposed to be paid. I told the organiser it can’t be that difficult to take a photo and he gave me the camera. I fell in love with the process, and the maths behind it. I could even implement techniques of survival on London streets into it.
J: When did you know this new passion would become a career?
B: I really don’t know. I still ask myself if it’s a career. I saw it as a hustle for a while. I’d probably say once I started shooting for Adidas, that’s when I said yeah this can be a career.
J: You said you draw inspiration from everywhere, which I love and also feel, is there anything you believe has inspired you the most?
B: I draw my inspiration mainly from my life experiences and observations. Then from my communities and area I grew up in. For me, I just want to change the narrative the surrounds black and ethnic minorities.
J: Your personal projects really speak to the communities, what drives you to shoot this way?
The life I’ve lived! As well as the things I’ve seen / experienced. Gordon Parks once said;
‘I picked up a camera because it was my choice of weapons against what I hated most about the universe: racism, intolerance, poverty. I could have just as easily picked up a knife or a gun, like many of my childhood friends did … most of whom were murdered or put in prison … but I chose not to go that way. I felt that I could somehow subdue these evils by doing something beautiful that people recognise me by, and thus make a whole different life for myself, which has proved to be so.’
J: Is there anything you wish to focus on more, or something you’ve dreamed of shooting?
B: I’d like to dive more into the Muslim community.
J: Which one of your own images is your favourite, and why?
B: A boy reading the Quran alone in a mosque in a village in Gambia. I don’t really know how I caught it but it’s like light is coming out of the book.
For more from Brunel, please visit his website.