James Kerwin : Passionate by architecture
Hailing from a small town called Norwich, UK, photographing architecture quickly became for James Kerwin like a matter of course, almost a necessity. It all began in 2014, fascinated by travel and architectural masterpieces around the world, once thriving buildings now ravaged by nature and time, all of which the Briton laments are not maintained. Inspiring places full of stories that he tells through his images, hoping that people will look at them, find them interesting and even a little unique in some aspects.
His images have a striking stillness, as if out of time, they are bewitching, poetic and powerful. He loves colors, graphic structures and composes each photo with a sharp eye, almost like paintings.
Represented by the Goodman & Co Gallery in the Netherlands, he has also been awarded several prizes in the category of architectural photography and has published several books.
Your first photographic click?
James Kerwin : Back in 2009 I was living and working briefly in Melbourne, Australia. I lived with two Germans that were heavily into their long exposure cityscape photography – it inspired me to go down into Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne and purchase a Panasonic LX3. 3 weeks later I shot my first photos as I travelled through Hong Kong – 2 long exposures of the city at night.
The man of images who inspires you?
James Kerwin : Robert Polidori, a Canadian-American photographer known for his large-scale color images of architecture, urban environments and interiors. The guy is now in his 70s and shoots everything medium format.
The image you would have liked to make?
James Kerwin : Robert Polidori – ohh his old Havana stuff is fantastic. He has one I love, it is of the Señora Faxas Residence, No.4, 2 #318 (at the corner of Avenida 5ta.), Miramar, Havana, Cuba, but it was taken in 1997!
The one you regret you didn’t made?
James Kerwin : I have missed a few opportunities in recent times – for instance there was a stunning casino in Constanta in Romania, I had plenty of chances to visit – but I missed this and it is now under complete renovation and has been altered a lot.
The one that moved you the most?
James Kerwin : Ohh for sure most of the stuff in Beirut that I photographed for my recent book Abandoned Lebanon. The area I was shooting in had been badly affected by the blast of August 2020 – the stories and the wrecked architecture in front of my eyes was a real horrible thing to see – but the recovery mission moves me, its fast, determined and hopefully better in the long run.
And the one that made you angry?
James Kerwin : I have been back to locations or missed locations only to see images crop up online showing none of the original features have been kept. Most of these make me angry.
If among your images you had to choose only one?
James Kerwin : The Circle Of Trust, Beirut – 2019. The facade of a residential building in Beirut. The curtains were installed to allow owners/tenants privacy from the other high rises opposite.
A key image in your personal pantheon?
James Kerwin : Congo / Dilapidated was the one that got me noticed in Europe – the light rays were special at the time and people found it unique. It got me signed with my agency Goodman & co in Holland.
The quality needed to be a good photographer?
James Kerwin : Hard work, learning, patience, and post processing skills. The rest is dedication and the ability to think up new ideas and market yourself. Taking a photo is a tiny part of the process.
The secret of the perfect image, if it exists?
James Kerwin : Slowing down and thinking about the end result. It makes a huge difference.
The person you would dream of photographing?
James Kerwin : It would be cool to place some original builders/architects into a space and photograph them – how many of these people are still alive I am not sure.
An essential photo book?
James Kerwin : I have plenty of books from various photographers, shooting this genre and other photography types. Urban Photography by Tim Cornbill I enjoy.
The camera of your beginnings?
James Kerwin : Panasonic LX3
The one you use today?
James Kerwin : Canon R5
Your favourite drug?
James Kerwin : Photography for sure – it is the thing that makes me feel relaxed, takes me away from my troubles and made me travel and learn different cultures.
The best way to disconnect for you?
James Kerwin : Eating out, a social drink. Perhaps a few days away from the laptop – and even a day out with the camera shooting a different genre can help.
Your greatest quality?
James Kerwin : My drive – and ability to keep fighting for something that I want to do, I do not give in very easily.
The job you would not have liked to do?
James Kerwin : A paramedic during the pandemic.
Your greatest extravagance as a photographer?
James Kerwin : Visiting Namibia was right up there – plenty of sand, very remote and visiting ghost towns buried in the desert in the sweltering heat.
The city, country or culture you dream of discovering?
James Kerwin : Egypt, and many parts of South America.
The place you never get tired of?
James Kerwin : Any seaside town on the Med! Historical ones like Batroun in Lebanon are lovely, Mykonos, Some spots on the Turkey coastline as well.
Your biggest regret?
James Kerwin : I am fairly happy with everything I have done – I always used to chase more more more / but these days I have learnt to slow down. I don’t count countries anymore – it is not what locals want to hear at all.
Instagram, Tik Tok or snapchat?
James Kerwin : I only really use Instagram currently (@james.kerwin) – however I will start placing my reels on Tik Tok in the coming weeks.
Color or B&W?
James Kerwin : I am very much a colour guy – my website is packed with colour. I think the aesthetic I shoot suites these colours.
Daylight or artificial light?
James Kerwin : Usually, I am only using natural lighting in any one location – it is special when you come across unique lighting, such as light rays.
The most photogenic city according to you?
James Kerwin : Thus far Beirut & Tbilisi in Georgia have been my most photographed cities. But the most photogenic depends on the eye of the cameras holder.
If God existed, would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?
James Kerwin : Selfie for sure!
The image that represents for you the current state of the world.
James Kerwin : You can choose any of my most ruined scenes, but there is one that provides a glimmer of hope. Lets opt for « Light Entertainment ».
What is missing in today’s world?
James Kerwin : More freedom of movement, remote working opportunities seemed to pop up a lot during the pandemic and have then been totally forgotten about soon after.
And if everything was to be remade?
James Kerwin : Let’s keep cameras though yeah?
Website : jameskerwinphotographic.com
Gallery : goodman-co.art