John Second works as a freelance photographer in Cape Town shooting portraits for publications and most recently the SS 2014 lookbook for Paez Footwear. For his ongoing personal photography projects he shoots on 35mm film capturing brief encounters with people and places – unedited snaps of real life.
We interviewed him this week to find out more about these series as well as his background and future plans.
Please tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be a photographer?
I am from the Eastern Cape, went to school in the Garden Route, and studied in Stellenbosch. My father had a Pentax ME Super SLR when I was growing up. I fiddled with it during high school for art projects, but didn’t really know what I was doing. The idea of making photographs really appealed to me though. When the time came I decided to study graphic design, but by the end of the first semester I realized that photography was actually what I wanted to do, so I changed my major and that was it, I guess.
What do you take pictures of?
People and things that I like, or don’t like. A friend described what we photograph as ‘real life’; I think that’s pretty accurate.
What are some of the influences that contribute to what and how you shoot?
There are obviously a number of photographers and artists both locally and internationally whose work I admire, but I think it’s the mind-bending stuff that happens every day on the streets and where I live. It nurtures a desire to see more, so I look for more.
Please tell us about your ongoing personal series ‘Week’ and ‘Volume’:
WEEK is a portrait series about my curiosity in people, it is endless.
VOLUME is a way for me to try and understand the vulgarity of consumption. It is something that we are all a part of, our behaviour, and how we treat spaces, objects, and other living things.
Both WEEK and VOLUME are ongoing projects and have been photographed on compact 35mm point and shoot cameras.
A selection from VOLUME:
What was your experience like in Latvia at the International Summer School of Photography? What was the resulting series about?
It was unreal, a really amazing experience. I would go back to Eastern Europe any day. It is a presentation of my experience while attending the ISSP. Ezersala is the name of the school and boarding house for children that we were accommodated in. All of the rooms had the same sunflower wallpaper across two walls, each a duplicate of the next. It was photographed in the room that I was sharing with others who were also attending the summer school. It was a strange place for me to be in for almost 2 weeks. All of the men photographed attended the ISSP, as lecturers or students. By having them pose without their shirts on I felt that there was something juvenile about them, and gave them complete agency away from any branding or colourful distraction, it’s about them, and their experiences, as much as it was about mine. It’s a difficult series for me to explain.
What do you enjoy about Portraiture?
It’s like an endless amount of turns in a game for me.
What is essential for taking a good portrait?
What are you currently working on?
A portrait series for a local skate team, a project that I am super excited about.
What would you like to do more of?
I just want to make more pictures that I am hyped on, and to work with good people who are as excited as I am, so whatever I can do to get there I’ll have to do.
No idea, honestly. I’ll see where the next phone call takes me.
A selection from WEEK:
A selection from the S/S 2014 Lookbook photographed for Paez Shoes: