James George Potter
James is a portrait photographer and filmmaker from Croydon, South London. With his father playing in bands throughout his childhood, the musicians James met growing up were the first inspirations for his photography.
As James developed as a photographer, he moved from digital to analogue cameras, but his passion for documenting musicians remains, as his biggest inspiration is Dutch music photographer Anton Corbijn, describing his work as ‘beautiful, bold and honest‘.
An exploration of loneliness
‘My final piece is a set of photographs which together with the work of the other artists, explores loneliness through scenes with singular characters and their relation to the space around them. Over the past couple of weeks, I have interviewed friends, family and posted on internet forums asking ‘When in your life did you feel most isolated or alone?’ The responses I received inspired the photographs I took.
One person spoke in detail about feeling alone or even trapped amongst friends and family. This idea of feeling alone in a relationship greatly inspired my first photographs and the character I created in this scene. A bride alone on the beach after having run away was the story I created in these pictures about feeling trapped amongst even those closest to you.
Upon thinking of a time in my life where I felt most isolated, something that came to mind was when I once saw an old friend sitting alone on Christmas Eve. As I walked back through the centre of town to be with my family for Christmas, I took a shortcut through St. Georges Walk, a place once bustling with shoppers, now a baron high street. While walking through, I saw a girl who had once been my closest friend in childhood, sat alone smoking a cigarette in the place people only go to if they don’t want to be found.
I knew last we spoke she had issues with her family, but when we locked eyes for a moment I had never seen somebody so lost in all my life. The other pictures I took are inspired by the various stories people told me, especially those who mentioned feeling isolated in light of the current pandemic.’
Devising and Collaboration
Initial group ideas:
‘Myself and the two artists I collaborated with initially began brainstorming with a word association game wherein five minutes, each of us wrote as many words as we could think of which we associate with isolation. It was intriguing to see one another’s perspectives, but it was very clear that space or area, big or small, would play a key role in our work together.
We each began creating our own pieces of work centred around this idea of space. For some of us, isolation meant feeling alone in an infinite void, but for others, isolation was a more claustrophobic feeling.
The first image that came to mind when I thought about isolation was a seemingly infinite terrain. I began to look at the sea, beaches and other flat areas as potential locations for my first photoshoot. I had recently watched a documentary about one of my favourite photographers and was inspired by how he would often use characters and costumes to create a sort of short story in his portraits, similar in ways to creating a short film.
I initially thought about taking a documentary approach to my pictures by finding subjects who truly feel isolated. I planned to interview people I knew, friends and family, about when they most felt isolated or alone in their life. I quickly discovered however that these stories were immensely personal, and the knowledge that their experiences would be shared publicly hindered certain details of their recollection. I decided to take a different approach; the stories would be kept anonymous and I would instead create scenes inspired by each of their stories. The anonymity I gave to the people I spoke to made what they told me decidedly more honest.
Working with Gabrielle and Sal:
Working with the other artists really pushed me to explore new avenues. It was great hearing their initial ideas as the two artists I worked with had very unique individual crafts. Gabrielle Dalsan worked with paint, Sal Moreno worked with computer software and I worked with photographs. I knew that what we would create by merging our different disciplines would be new and unusual.
It’s been a great project to experiment with new possibilities, Sal and I both explored the same idea of infinite space in each of our individual pieces, and so he cut out and added the characters in my pictures to some of his augmented reality scenes, while I took some of the textures from his work and added them to my own pictures. I loved how well the two projects merged together, mine and Gabrielle’s high contrast black and white images looked great against Sal’s colourful night skies.
I loved the augmented reality scene created by Sal. I decided as a great way to combine our works, I would cut out some parts of my images and combine these with Sal’s artwork. This added a whole new dimension to my images. The painting of one of my images by Gabrielle Dalsan was incredible. She added a whole new layer to the image and especially the noir style with her incredible eye for detail and texture. Together, the work we have created is a melancholic view of isolation, I believe for each of our pieces, we’ve captured a feeling that every one human has felt in some way.’
To explore other works from this collaboration group, click on the images below. To return to the main exhibition page, click on The Collaborator’s Project banner.
THE MODERN DAY SUBLIME, Gabrielle Dalsan
(Oil on canvas)
COSMIC ESCAPE, Sal Moreno
(Virtual reality and digital art)
More from James
‘I’m a portrait photographer and documentary filmmaker who grew up in Croydon, South London. Growing up, my dad was always in a band, as such, I’ve always been surrounded by live music and interesting characters. It wasn’t long before I picked up a camera and began documenting the people who came through the house as a kid – soul singers, rock guitarists, jazz musicians, each and every person with their own interesting story.
Back then, I could only afford basic digital cameras, but I’ve been moving into using analogue film more and more. In doing so, I rediscovered the most rewarding part of photography – capturing a moment of life and seeing the final image develop.
My biggest inspiration has been the work of music photographer Anton Corbijn, who’s portraits of some of the biggest names in music are does in such a beautiful, bold and honest way.
I began studying film where I met other people with a similar fascination for the world. We began making short documentary films and along the way, met so many interesting people – migrants who had travelled across Europe, people who had given up their lives to help them, detectives, criminals, campaigners, politicians and other young people, so many interesting lives and so many stories.
Since the start of lockdown, the world has felt like it’s been on pause. It hasn’t been as easy to go out and find those stories. Instead, something amazing happened. I picked up my camera and began to look closely at the people around me. I have always taken my own setting for granted, but in the past few months, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the town where I’ve grown up. The people walking by me on the street, who are they? What’s their story? I’ve travelled all over the place meeting interesting people, but lockdown has shown me that some of the best stories of all are right on my doorstep.’