Motorbikes carry goods around the city of Hanoi, Vietnam, 2019 © Jon Enoch

Jon Enoch on inspiration and discovering new approaches

Jon Enoch is an award-winning advertising photographer and director. We caught up with him to talk inspiration, lockdown and passion projects.

Enoch started his career in photojournalism and photo documentary. Six years ago he started shooting advertising campaigns.

“I started off in local newspapers, then news agencies then The Times newspaper,” he says.

“It reached a point in that industry where it wasn’t offering the lifestyle that I wanted. Once you have done two or three years in news in London you start to see the cyclical nature of it.”

Jon would occasionally get to do a portrait or lifestyle feature shoot and found he enjoyed the creative control it gave him.

“For years you have been in a situation where you have got to work with what you have got or with huge time pressures.

“The portraits just opened up a whole other door to lights and control and studios. It just felt like a natural thing to happen.”

Current England first team manager Gareth Southgate. Pictured at Saint Georges Park. Jon Enoch for The Coaches Voice.
Current England first team manager Gareth Southgate. Pictured at Saint Georges Park. Jon Enoch for The Coaches Voice.

‘It is personalities that interest me’

Enoch’s clients include Facebook, American Airlines, Stand up to Cancer, Skoda, The RNLI, EA Sports and Benefit Cosmetics.

He describes his development in advertising as ‘an organic process’.

“Certain things have happened which have led me down certain paths and of course there is always a little bit of luck,” he says.

Enoch never thought he would have such a strong sporting element to his work.

However, an editorial campaign with Paul Gascoigne revealed the athletic world lends itself to how he shoots.

He is now often commissioned to work with sporting stars and athletic brands.

“In the world of photography you can’t be everything to everyone, you have to narrow it down. I like working with those personalities.

“It is more the personalities than the campaigns that interest me.”

Enoch recently shot Great Britain’s Paralympians in their opening and closing ceremony outfits for ASOS.

“It is great working with sports people at that stage of their career because they are just so enthusiastic and happy to be there.”

Enoch’s background in press photography has allowed him to draw on certain strengths.

“Often with celebrities you don’t have much time. It is working under that pressure that links to what I am good at.”

A woman runs past a wall with a geometric mural. San Francisco lifestyle test shoot © Jon Enoch
San Francisco lifestyle test shoot © Jon Enoch

Working in film

In the past couple of years, Jon has added film to his portfolio.

“Something I have definitely been working on is bringing that movement to stills,” he says.

“I think the industry is very film focused. All the money, the thought, it goes into the film and the stills are almost an afterthought.

“I think having photographers lead the creative process is really quite an interesting thing.

“It can certainly help you end up with matching luggage – stills and moving images brought together.

“I think it is something you will see a lot more people do.”

Enoch describes working in film as ‘oddly similar but oddly different’.

“There are large elements of it which totally fall into what you would do as a still photographer but other parts that are worlds apart.

“In a way it is easier because you have more to play with.

“When you are creating a still there is nowhere to hide, people will look at that one image and if it isn’t absolutely working it is very obvious.

“When you are working with moving imagery you have different shots you can cut to, you can use music, you can use sound.”

Men reach over a large net. Etisalat lifestyle shoot in Dubai and Athens © Jon Enoch
Etisalat lifestyle shoot in Dubai and Athens © Jon Enoch

The impact of lockdown

Like so many photographers, Enoch has been affected by COVID-19.

The week of the first 2020 lockdown he was due to fly to Mumbai to start a new project.

“It was a really great project which we have now had to push back and push back,” he says.

“That is frustrating because there is the commercial side but there are also things I want to shoot myself. There is a formula to that.

“It took a long time to find out what that formula was but unfortunately it involves quite a bit of foreign travel. “

Lockdown has also had an impact on creative processes.

“As a photographer you are always looking for something a little bit different, a little bit new,” says Enoch.

“As our world gets smaller it is hard to find that.”

However, he believes once restrictions ease it could create a new wave of inspiration.

“The potential for what can happen is great because suddenly eyes will be opened up again.”

Motorbikes carry goods around the city of Hanoi, Vietnam
Motorbikes carry goods around the city of Hanoi, Vietnam, 2019 © Jon Enoch

Hanoi Bikes

With an absence of new experiences, Enoch believes it is important to look at new approaches instead.

One example of this is his Hanoi Bikes series.

A friend had visited Hanoi and showed him pictures of the riders which she had taken on her phone.

When he travelled to Hanoi, Enoch decided to move away from the traditional images taken in motion from buses or cars and instead shoot the riders stationary.

“It was an interesting one because it is actually a bit of a cliché,” he says.

“It is hardly like I have discovered something that no one has ever discovered before but I think it is the approach, you can do it differently.

“Sometimes we are looking for something that is untouched but in this world nothing is untouched.

“You can create your untouchable by the way you approach it. That is what makes it unique.

“It is something familiar, it is something that we are aware exists but we are approaching it in a different way. It is not always 100 per cent in the subject matter.

“That is a formula I like. Go somewhere interesting, find something interesting then approach it in a new way to shed some light on it.”

Martin Freeman portrait for Su2C
Martin Freeman for Su2C © Jon Enoch

Jon Enoch

Jon Enoch is an award-winning London-based photographer and director.

Find out more and view his work at jonenoch.com.

Main image: Motorbikes carry goods around the city of Hanoi, Vietnam, 2019 © Jon Enoch

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