In Conversation with Jack Fleming
There are a handful of photographers that we come across every once in a while and are completely blown away by. You can't always put your finger on what it is, there's just a certain magic that bleeds through their work, a trait which is both familiar and completely original. It is creatives like this that we try to shine a spotlight on and share with our audience, and Jack Fleming is one such photographer.
His work is a reflection of the society around him, focusing primarily on masculine modern day rituals, be it boxing, shooting, or shouting. His eye is utterly unique, honed no doubt by his time interning at both Martin Parr and Ewen Spencer studios. We've been following Jack's work for quite some time, and were extremely excited when he agreed to answer a few questions for us.
How did you initially get into photography?
I have only really taken photography seriously in the last four or so years, but I've always had an interest in making pictures. Like most photographers, I picked it up through my parents always having cameras around.
The theme of masculinity is present throughout your work. What is it that draws you to this theme, and is it the spaces or the actual individuals that you are more interested in?
I feel most comfortable when working in these spaces and enjoy the company of these types of people. It’s a celebration / observation / criticism. The subject is the primary motivation, but the space I am working in is also important to the type of picture I am looking to make. For instance a clean car garage or gym wouldn’t yield the same result.
Do you think the area you grew up has had an influence on your work?
I guess it probably has. Like most other young boys, I grew up playing football over the park, making fires, knocking on people’s doors, jumping on bushes and running over cars. General trouble making was the way to experiment, establish and be free. And perhaps it still is. This behaviour is within all of us, and there are certain places and situations that draw it out of us even as adults.
Your work has quite a strong British element running through it. Is this something that you think you will always hold onto, in some way shape or form?
Yes for sure. I want to celebrate it and be proud of the country I am from. There are so many fragile treasures that are on the brink of their demise and I feel a sense of responsibility for documenting it for the future and to show others the beautiful decay of the elements around us.
For any budding photographers reading this that have just started out on their journey, what is the one piece of advice you could give?
This sounds very simple but I have a habit of making mental notes. Too many mental notes can cloud your thoughts, whereas written notes often bring more substance and can result in another element to the work. I suppose experiment and don’t get too comfortable, however I don’t have the best advice to give as I still have a lot to learn myself.
The last thing Mark Power said to me when I graduated was to really absorb, appreciate and hold on to any praise you get from others because that is what will get you through the hard times, and I am beginning to see the values of those words.
Aside from other photographers, is there anything in particular that inspires you to create bodies of work?
If I could construct an atmospheric landscape of England just like George Shaw’s paintings, I would be very happy. I find it quite tricky to make landscapes. I tend to involve some sort of movement or action, often from a male at a sporting event commonly held in England.
You recently put out some work from a series entitled “Shooting”. How has this series developed since and are you working on any other series at the moment?
Over the last few years I have visited various events and clubs I am starting to compile it all now, its still early days but its starting to take shape. So the shooting range stuff will be in that. I'm keeping it simple at the moment by referring to things as a basic noun. Eg. Punching, shouting, racing, shooting.