Jason Hynes studied BA Hons Photography with us, graduating in 2007. He is now a successful photographer, recently winning Portrait of Britain 2020. We caught up with Jason to chat about his career and what he’s been up to since leaving us at The Northern School of Art!
What did you study here at the Northern School of Art? Can you tell us a highlight?
I studied a Degree in Photography at The Northern School of Art back when it was Cleveland College of Art and Design, at the Burlam Road site in Middlesbrough, I graduated in 2007. My favourite memory is hard to choose, there were lots of great memories from that time. The building itself was probably the best memory, it was a very inspirational place to work. the staff there were also very influential in how I thought about photography, I’m still in touch with a lot of the staff and now regard them as friends.
Can you tell us a bit about your career journey?
After graduating I started working in Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
as a gallery assistant, I was doing the odd bit of freelancing on the side but nothing sustainable. After a year I was beginning to feel a bit distant from photography, it’s great at college you have support and all the facilities but when you leave you are kind of floundering.
In 2008 I began a photography collective on Flickr
called Pistol and Fur, it was mainly people who shot with film, it was a throwaway aesthetic, I viewed it as a garage band of photography collectives. I began it out of that need for collaboration and being a part of something that I had at college. It ran for 3 year and I got arts council funding, with the help of Steve Brown who co curated the show with me, to show an exhibition In 2010 of 30 photographers from the collective. Quite a few of them have gone on to do some cool work, Jeff Luker, Annette Pehrsson, Stephanie Gonot.
From there I began to concentrate on my own projects, as well as freelancing and holding down a 9 to 5, pretty much what I’m still doing but with a much more focused vision of where I want my work to go and I’m a photographer in my 9to5 now, which makes a big difference. It has been a long road and the journey continues.
What’s been a career highlight?
My career highlight so far would be two things, winning Portrait of Britain 2020 and having work from that project, The Few, exhibited in Mima, I left mima a year ago to start work as a full time photographer and it feels good to go back as an exhibiting artist.
Have you got anything in the pipeline you can tell us about?
I have 3 projects on the go at the minute, all are about the region.
Hometown is a portrait project to celebrate Middlesbrough’s 200th anniversary in 2030. It will be 200 portraits of people from the town alongside handwritten personal recollections of the town and people.
The River explores the concept of place and identity. Working with refugees and Asylum seekers in Middlesbrough, The River documents how they use the River Tees and its immediate environment, between Stockton and Middlesbrough, as part of their daily life.
Let Your Light Shine is a project that takes me back to the Pallister Park estate in Middlesbrough, the estate where I grew up.My secondary school’s motto was ‘Let Your Light Shine’ The school was St Anthony’s RC Secondary.
Working with young people at Pallister Park Community Centre and with the larger community, I will be exploring burgeoning talent among the young people of the area, as well as exploring its fragility and what motivates and hinders it’s progression.
What advice would you give our current photography students?
I would say, if you really want to be a photographer you’ll know it in yourself at some point, I realised it when I started using the darkroom and developed my first print. It was magical. If that realisation hasn’t happened yet, give it time.
To help you along I’d say, go to all the lessons even though you just can’t get out of bed or are hungover or it’s sunny, go to the lessons you might miss that thing that gives you that bit of magic.
And once you know you want to continue photography never give up, something always comes along to help you out.
I was terrible at taking advice I thought I knew it all, so if they want to take my advice fine but if not I’m sure they’ll do fine anyway.
Follow your instinct and be happy in what you do or move on.