Photography with Joe Clarke
Hey Joe! At the time of writing this, your main occupation is marketing, but you’re looking at making the shift into full-time photography. Looking at your work, it’s surprising to me that you haven’t already, as it looks so fully realised – much more than just a hobby. Was photography always your plan, or has it been a slow development?
Thank you! I can’t say photography was ever the plan (I’m not from a photography background and never studied it at school or anything) but it has always been an interest of mine and I’ve been playing around with cameras for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until a trip to Iceland 3 years ago though that I started to realise it could have the potential to be something more, not just in the sense that I would enjoy it as a career, but that people seemed to like my images too. I set up my website and instagram and it’s just grown organically from there. Before long I was receiving work requests and selling prints to people around the world so I started to dedicate more time to it, albeit quite difficult trying to juggle a full-time job, hence the desire to shift to full-time photography. I guess you could say it’s been a subconscious slow burner my whole life and is now the main plan..
Your work could loosely be categorised as travel photography. What are some of the most inspiring destinations you’ve been to? What do you seek out in a location for photography?
I’d have to put Iceland up there at the top. There’s a reason it’s been photographed to death but you can still some explore lesser known areas and see unique things. I think that’s what I’m always looking out for – things that might have been overlooked or not even considered as a subject, a sense of beauty in the mundane perhaps. On my last day in Iceland I witnessed an incredible sunset at Diamond beach and there must have been 50 other photographers all shooting the same view but I was more drawn to the shards of ice of the beach glowing orange as they reflected the sun, and the photo I took ended up being one of my favourites from the trip. I also went on a road trip to Lofoten in Norway but specifically didn’t plan any destinations and just drove around getting lost, stumbling on locations I would never have seen otherwise. So I don’t think I have a preconceived idea of what I’m seeking out to shoot, I just like to explore and see what catches my eye. I’ve most recently found inspiration on short walks from my flat in London – the right light can transform a scene and I’ve found myself shooting things I’ve walked past for years – one of the few upsides of lockdown!
With most people constantly taking photos, and our lives littered with imagery, it can be easy for a photo someone has worked hard on to be overlooked or missed among the rest. What will always make an image stand out to you? Do you worry that social media changes how people look at your work?
Different images stand out for different reasons but I think the most universal reason for standing out is when they create some sort of emotional connection with the viewer. The constant bombardment of images we’re faced with every day has resulted in a sense of indifference as to what’s good or not but every so often a photograph makes you feel something and pause to look at it (before mindlessly scrolling on again..) It doesn’t have to be perfectly composed or a beautiful subject, if it tells a story that resonates with you or is something you haven’t seen before it’s going to stand out. Regarding social media, despite its obvious benefits of giving everyone a platform to easily share their work and connect with people, I think it has also been quite damaging to the industry, turning photography into a popularity contest that favours regularity and constantly sustained likes over true bodies of photographic work. I don’t know too much about the algorithm but we’ve probably all been guilty of not posting something for fear of its social approval and that’s not a good thing!
What would you like to offer up as your WFTP hidden gem?
I’m not sure he’s that hidden anymore but I’ll say Wim Hof. He’s pioneered the physical and mental benefits of cold water and breathing exercises for so many years now but it seems like people are only just getting on board. Essentially (in an incredibly simplified sense) a cold shower and a few minutes of breathing each morning has huge benefits for both the body and mind – everyone should look into it and start!
Thanks a lot Joe, it’s been great to hear from you. Please give us your links and social media channels so we can follow what you do!
Interview by Alex Wilson