A part of our weekly portfolio sessions we met up with the super talented still life photographer Jess Bonham and chatted with her about her beginnings as a photographer, her influences, working with Gourmand magazine, collaborations with partner in crime Anna Lomax, projects with Gemma Tickle and her obsessions with shape and composition.
Let's kick things off with this brilliant project shot with excellent set designer Anna Lomax. For the latest collaboration between Kenzo and New Era Caps, Anna and Jess created these insanely playful series of gifs for the brand.
Taking the colour palette from the hats and using lot of different wood textures they went full throttle with colour, pattern and had a good old play with animation while they were at it.
Jess Bonham’s trajectory is an unusual one in some ways for a photographer. Having originally studied graphic design at Camberwell and illustration at Brighton University she went on to work with Chrissie MacDonald as a prop maker before finally finding her way into an apprenticeship with photographer Julian Broad. Jess came out the other side of all this as a freelance image maker who started to experiment with graphicness in image making using colour, shape and composition. With a love of negative space, the minimal and the desire to elevate the mundane, Jess finds a new order out of chaos.
Lost and Found, the first project Jess worked on with Anna Lomax, is a great example of their ablility to rearrange shapes, create patterns and graphicness, all the things that make this portfolio an absolute stunner. They set off on a road trip to Dungeness beach to collect discarded objects, giving them a whole new lease of life back in the studio. They created these lovely new sculptures, and in doing so celebrated the mundane, the lost and the found.
Measures of Quality is a project Jess created for Gourmand magazine with illustrator Jamie Julien Brown, demonstrating a classic cocktail from each of the five main cocktail families. Featuring the signature ingredients in each drink and breaking them down into their exact ratio, the images illustrate the personality of each cocktail, setting a different mood for each image through the use of colour and props. It also demonstrates a real enjoyment for the aesthetics of science.
Next up is Body Builder, and another personal project with Anna Lomax. Jess set out to use the human body as a structural starting point, arranging and adding materials and objects, to explore a new series of images using textured materials found in pound shops making new shapes with the body. It is unsurprising to discover Jess cites influences including the likes of Irving Penn, Guy Bourdin, Robert Longo, M/M Paris, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Yves Klein and The Memphis Group all of whom use shape, textures, colour and pattern in various different ways so well.
The Gourmand got in touch again, this time the subject was Dog Eat Dog. Jess managed to shoot some of London's most dapper dachshunds for this ‘satirical sausage celebration’ pairing the dogs with their edible counterparts in collaboration with Julian Ganio, Peta O' Brien and Paul Smith who designed the dog costumes.
We finish with one of my personal favourites, Polynating, a project with superb set designer Gemma Tickle. Deciding to experiment after starting to share a studio together, a lack of budget did not stop these two and they set themselves a challenge to try to find a super cheap man made throwaway object and elevate the status of it to make it seem luxurious and beautiful. Shot on glass and lit from behind, almost like an x-ray, it’s a place where nature meets mass production and the results are just lovely.
Playfulness, but always with a strong sense of control, this book totally stopped me in my tracks today. Graphic, slick and minimal there is a strength in form, simplicity, use of colour and a confidence to her work that is delightful and refreshing to see. I could talk about it all day.