An Interview with James Cannon

  • Image by James Cannon
  • Image by James Cannon
  • Image by James Cannon
  • Image by James Cannon

As a photographer, James Cannon creates natural modernism in his photos with compelling portraits and awesome landscapes. He manages to capture motion and emotion, appropriate as he has begun dabbling in motion capture.

In shooting an ad for KXU which Direct Digital supported, James replicated the look and energy of a spin class – this, as anyone who has been to one of those thumping, high-octane classes can tell you, is no easy feat. We managed to take some time out of James’ busy schedule and ask him some questions.  

How did you get into photography?

At 15 years old I picked up a few photo magazines and read about how firework and night-time photographs were made, learning all the technical aspects of creating long exposures with all the light trail effects. I took a couple of rolls of film at the local firework night and, surprisingly, I received a nice set of images back – from there I was hooked!

How would you describe your style?

Ah, the ever-evolving style question. For me, I think it’s continuously developing at the moment through a need to experience new opportunities, meet new people, and challenge myself to create better work. It’s come together quite naturally but involves a reportage feel either on location, in the studio, or more recently in moving image. 

What inspires you and your photography?

A good question! Various things from films to people you meet to the random adventures. I ask myself questions that I try to answer through new projects. I love sport and adventurous pursuits. I love the values sport encompasses and the moments and memories they create. I use these concepts to come up with new ideas also. Some older examples include projects from Mental Health in sport to having my first magazine commission documenting the Women Tour in a bid to get more women’s sport covered in more main-stream media.

What are some of your favourite projects you’ve worked on?

There have been a few! Spending weeks in Siena embedded with a Contrada for the famous Palio, to hurtling down the oldest bobsleigh run in the world in St Moritz to calling in a road closure around the mountains in South Africa on an Advertising job; it’s really varied, and I absolutely love it.

I’ve loved moving into directing my first piece of moving image, working on projects with more depth that require collaborating with multiple like-minded creatives. It’s great as everyone gets it and are working towards the same goal. The first project was called ‘Flow;’ a performance with a ballet dancer at the Jubilee Pool in Penzance.

What kind of equipment do you use? Do you have a preferred brand?

I kind of keep away from sticking to one brand and with camera and film developments moving forward so quickly it’s the best reason to be renting equipment from Direct Digital. From a business perspective, it makes sense and from a creative perspective it keeps all your options open. I have a basic arsenal of kit, have just purchased some more lighting and a Drone, and build out kit depending on the job.

Why do you choose to use Direct Digital? How have we helped you?

I think my relationship with Direct stems back from just after University. I’ve some old colleagues who head up departments at Direct so it’s good to keep in touch with industry friends from university to the current day. You have a wide range of equipment available, the kit is invariably well looked after and, ultimately, you all care and help to make a shoot or idea come to life! The service and professionalism are paramount in a fast-moving industry.

What’s next?

Well, I’m just back from the Lake District shooting a new short moving piece, so we’ll be editing and colouring that soon before we’re off to Austria to shoot another moving image project which I’ve been planning for two years. Then on to various edits and finishing up a new portfolio for various meetings in the UK, New York, and Amsterdam in September.

Make sure you check out James’ website and follow him on social @james_cannon