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FOCUS: Jon Enoch

4 June 2020

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© Jon Enoch

Shortlisted for the Portrait of Humanity Award we catch up with Jon Enoch to find out more behind his selected image of a scooter rider in Hanoi and their crazy cargo. Jon's career was born out of winning an around the world flight ticket. He hasn't looked back until now with the pandemic and travel being suspended, Jon reflects on the effects on the power of portrait photography and how it will be seen in a new light as we emerge back out into a different world.



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© Jon Enoch

At what point in your life did you first think that you’d like to become a photographer?

I was at The University of Sheffield studying for a BA in Geography. I won a random, no skill, name out of the hat type competition - the prize was 2 around the world flight tickets and some cash. I took a year out and bought a little point and shoot to capture my travels. I was hooked instantly so from that point on I tried to figure out how I was going to make it happen.


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© Jon Enoch

Can you remember your first photographic commission? And what was it?

When I was back at University I had done some work experience with the local paper The Sheffield Star, The picture editor, Dennis Lound, who was amazingly kind and encouraging, passed my details onto The New Musical Express who were looking for a recommendation for a freelancer in town. I was booked to take some live pictures of a local band in a tiny pub. It turned out to be The Arctic Monkeys - in the very early days. I think it was the band's first bit of national press and the NME ran my picture about the size of a postage stamp.


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© Jon Enoch

You have been shortlisted for the Portrait of Humanity Award with the image of the man on a bike transporting a huge amount of what looks like balloons?! Can you tell us more about how the image came about?

They are actually children's toy footballs. This was part of a wider set looking at scooter riders in Hanoi, Vietnam and their crazy cargos. I spend a week out there capturing all the weird and wonderful things they move around on the back of bikes. I had one assistant with me from London and we worked with a local fixer who we dispatched on a scooter to chase down any crazy cargos that drove past and convince them to come back and pose up. Some of the things we captured were extraordinary. Men transporting hundreds of eggs, bags of live fish and towers of ice. But the colour of the footballs really pops.


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© Jon Enoch

As a Portrait & Lifestyle Photographer your work must have been hit by the pandemic, how do you see your shoots panning out in the future?

It’s an uncertain time. I had a very busy six months leading up to the quarantine. I was shooting out in Dubai and had a few shoots out in Greece and spent Christmas and the New Year in the US, so the change of pace has been rather dramatic. I think things will be slow to return to normal in the industry. In the medium term however I think the power of people photography is going to be greater than ever. Brands will be keen to capitalise on the emotional resonance that images will invoke and the connection of humans. Even something that previously was relatively mundane, say a group of friends on a beach enjoying a beer - well that's going to be so much more powerful. Brands will certainly be keener on people focused work - which is what I do - they certainly won’t be commissioning a still life or illustration so I think there will be opportunity.


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© Jon Enoch


What advice would you give your younger self?

In terms of my career I think I would point out two main things.

Firstly, your career will have many stages and each one will be surprisingly different. For me I started off in local newspapers and then worked as staff for a news agency in the Midlands. I then moved to London working for The Times. I shot news, but then moved into features and portraits and then onto magazine work and finally advertising and brand work. The work I’m doing today is so far removed from where I started it might as well be another profession and all of those different stages have involved wildly different skill sets.

Secondly, being a successful commercial photographer involves a lot more than taking images. Other areas such as marketing, handling clients, negotiations and project management also play a very important role and require focus.


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© Jon Enoch

What does being a member of the AOP mean to you?

It's been a great thing. I picked up a great client not long after joining via the ‘find a photographer’ feature so that's always nice. I’m a big fan of the AOP's Legal Advise. They've helped me on numerous infringement cases and frankly that is worth the membership fee alone. The awards are always helpful too but overall it's just a positive organisation to be a part of.


View more of Jon's images in Find

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