Interview with Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor is a documentary photographer known for his gritty, hard hitting images. His unforgettable photographs have appeared in international publications such as TIME Magazine, London’s Sunday Times Magazine and the New York Times Magazine. On October 27 and 28, Jonathan will be leading a two day street photography workshop in Mumbai. We had a chance to interview him to learn more about his experiences as a documentary photographer.

How would you describe your photographic style? I am a social documentary photographer, usually on the side of the underdog. But most photographers feel like outsiders looking in. So I guess we are just making a comment on the human condition, not trying to change the world or be on a soap box.

What equipment do you primarily use? I use Nikon cameras; I carry a D700 for digital. A FM2 for film. Lenses range from 24mm to 35mm. I have longer lenses but like to get up close for street, documentary or photojournalism.

What do you look for in a potential image? How do you find your subjects? I look for images that resonate, subjects are everywhere – you just have to know where to look.

What kind of impression do you hope to leave for those viewing your photos? I don’t have any expectations on what the viewer may or may not get from viewing my photographs. If they resonate in some way, be it as a negative response or a positive one then that is fine. Bland isn’t fine, pretty imagery is often pointless and gauche but in truth photography is personal expression. It is nice that others may find my pictures of worth but not essential. Being paid for my work is rather nice though.

Can you identify the 3 photos you’re most proud of and tell us a little about them? (Please note that some of these images are of a graphic nature and expose the gritty side of life that some may find disconcerting. To view the photographs please visit Jonathan’s Flickr photostream.)

1. The fight picture (Ya Ba 005) took some getting, it looks like I was there at the right place right time. But the contacts needed, the getting in and risks involved, then the impact of the image itself makes it a signature picture of mine.

2. The Baby Birth picture (Birth 01), was right place right time and I look at it often when depressed. A photographer doesn’t get many chances to experience and photograph such a thing.

3. The Time cover (categorized under Tear Sheets), it was my first cover for them. So I guess I do like some accolade and exposure at times too.

But actually this is my favorite picture (Ya Ba 001) from my Ya Ba assignment.


To learn more about Jonathan and to view his portfolio, go to To learn more about the two day Street Photography workshop that Jonathan will be leading on Oct 27th and 28th in Mumbai, click here.


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