Emanating his intrinsic passion for liberation, his work is largely created whilst travelling cities in a campervan or on the road, free to venture where he sees fit. This physicality, coupled with the creative freedom to shoot whatever he likes on that day, not tied to a brief or particular framework allows for new work and inspiration. Exploring his “dark and moody” aesthetic, Josh has nurtured his signature style since teaching himself the craft, producing a styled, curated and artistic portfolio.
Take a look at our latest NINETYseven photographer’s story and the work to illustrate it below.
Ace to have you as a new photographer with our NINETYseven Collection, can you tell us about how you got started in photography and your creative evolution so far?
For me it all started when I left school. I was really into Parkour/Free Running, and every chance I got I would be out there filming these tricks with my friends. I started off filming on an old Samsung flip phone, which looking back was hilarious because the footage looked like it was filmed with a potato. But regardless, it was a start and was the catalyst for me to improve my filmmaking skills. I didn’t pick up a proper DSLR camera until years later. My first camera was a Canon 100D, which is just a basic entry level camera. I just dove in and taught myself all that could be learned about taking pictures, editing, lighting etc. I decided to start an instagram account (@joshjamesjoshua – shameless plug) to ‘host’ all my pictures, which just added to my motivation to continue learning and growing.
Clearly you are equally passionate about travel as you are photography. How did you pair your two passions successfully?
When I travel, I much prefer to hire a car/camper and explore the country I’m in than stay in a hotel and be bound to one place. Personally I find this a much better way of experiencing a country and absorbing the culture. So naturally, my photography and filmmaking skills go hand in hand with my travels. Once the tickets are booked all I think about is shot ideas, video concepts, what music to use etc… Plus, the bonus of documenting my travels means I have fond memories to look back on.
What one photograph of yours changed things for you?
This picture holds a special place in my heart. It was one of the first images of mine where I started experimenting with ‘dark’ and ‘moody’ styles. It was winter when I first started shooting like this, so when I had spare time to go out and take pictures, it was already dark. I had to use any opportunity presented to me, and was forced to adapt to these new constraints. This image was also one of my first to ‘go viral’ on instagram. That was a great confidence boost and showed me that there was an audience out there for this type of thing.
How I shot this image was an adventure in itself. As you can imagine, being winter and nighttime, it was very cold. I had a location in mind from previous travels, it was an old castle type building open to the public 24/7. No one ever goes there after dark, so I knew I would be free to utilise the space to get the perfect shot. To get the dramatic smoke, I used a smoke bomb to fill the room with a thick haze. I had an off camera flash set up on a tripod aimed at the ceiling. That way, the light would bounce back and produce bold downlighting. Then it was a case of getting a friend to hold the shutter button down for me until we got the shot you see here!
You specialise in travel photography with particular focus on road trips, documented by drone photography on your Youtube. Tell us about shooting with drones. What is the technical and creative process involved?
Shooting with a drone has changed dramatically over the years. When I first got my hands on a small entry level drone, that’s what I would take on my trips with me. It was light enough to pack and didn’t really get in the way. Nowadays the drone market is heavily regulated with lots of rules and regulations. So it’s worth doing your research on local laws applying to drones before you get out there and fly! Otherwise, you could land yourself a hefty fine.
In terms of the creative side of droning, most drones tend to have smaller sensors, so low light can be difficult to shoot in and has to be taken into account. Polar opposite to that, direct sunlight can be a challenge also, so it’s worth investing in ND filters so you can still maintain that cinematic shutter speed! As with any creative tool, I definitely recommend diving in and researching all there is to know about your equipment. Youtube is a fantastic place to start. As you get more comfortable with what you have, you’ll be spending less time worrying about settings and more time actually getting creative!
What is it about road tripping that you love so much?
Freedom. The idea of going on holiday and spending two weeks in a hotel, being constrained to the same place just doesn’t appeal to me. Whereas, renting a camper or vehicle enables you to fully experience a country, as you’ll never be in the same place twice. You could be in the mountains one night, shooting a timelapse of the stars and the next night you can be in the heart of a city framing up a shot of a majestic building.
Is there a location that you visited that changed something for you, creatively, professionally or personally?
Absolutely. What comes to mind is Trolltunga in Norway. It tested my limits of all three aspects in your question. A lot was involved in getting that image you see. There was an 11km hike one way to reach Trolltunga. Me and my friends seriously underestimated the task at hand. You could say we completely winged it. I remember we set off in the pitch black at 1am. The first 1.5km of the hike involved a very steep incline, with an uneven rocky path. So you can imagine us with all our gear on and small head torches scrambling up the side of this mountain… Fun times indeed. We had to camp halfway into the hike as the cold became too much to bear, and we were already running empty on energy. But we persevered. As I got closer to the destination, I caught a glimpse of what we had been working towards, and instantly had a boost of energy which enabled me to get to the end! I have real fond memories of this trip with my friends that I always look back on.
In your own words, how would you best describe your photography style and aesthetic?
It’s probably a cliche at this point, but what best describes my style is ‘Dark & Moody’. Although, as I have progressed, I have tried to incorporate nature more into my creativity.
Your work offers a young, fresh and artistic take on travel photography. What, to you, does aspiring to do things differently mean and why is it important?
I’ve touched upon it in the previous question, but I would like to mention I’m trying to stay away from one particular style, and just shoot whatever feels natural to me. If I like it, I’ll shoot it. That’s the beauty with travelling, it’s never going to be the same twice. So you have to adapt to whatever is presented to you. It would be a shame not to snap something because it doesn’t fit within your current framework.
How do you decide where to go and what to shoot? Is it decided by the work or by the location?
When I first started travelling, as I live in the UK, travel within the EU is really cheap. Some flights cost me as little as £29 return. So I made it a point to explore as much of Europe as possible. I would often just look at instagram or youtube for inspiration, pick a country and search for camper vans for hire. This even led to me reaching out to these hire companies and getting discounted rates in exchange for content for their websites, which was always a lovely bonus. Brexit & Coronavirus has now paved the way for some uncertainty regarding EU travel, so after the effects of the pandemic have worn off, it’ll be more clear what’s possible regarding Europe. Of course, there’s a big world out there to explore!
What’s coming next for your work? Anything exciting in the pipeline?
I’ve recently started a new role within a video production company which focuses on Weddings and Commercial projects. So I’m very excited to dive in and get creative! We have a few bookings around the world in 2021, so being able to travel for work is a dream come true!
Thanks for the questions, and I hope all the team at Imago have a great year!