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"Jonathan has photographed International Alert's work in three different continents. He always becomes part of the team, needs a minimum amount of support and delivers stunning images which convey a real sense of humanity."
Phil Vernon
Director of Programmes
International Alert
"Whether on a farm in East Africa, a Trawler in the Atlantic or a Royal Palace in London, Jonathan consistently delivers photography that makes us look good to our clients. "
Paul Campbell
Director of Purple Patch Group
"Quality photography is absolutely essential to our brand. It’s who we are, what we do and the impact we have on the world. And that means working with a photographer like Jonathan, who understands what we are trying to achieve with our work."
THOM MCKAY,
Director of Communications
RTKL.COM
"Jonathan has been a pleasure to work with, professional, well organised, creative and always delivering to the brief. Considering the breadth of topics we have asked him to work on around the world, he has also shown himself to be resourceful and flexible. "
Judith Batchelar,
Director of Sainsbury's Brand
"Jonathan has travelled to Intergen's power plants in Mexico, Australia and Europe and produces consistently high quality photography. Intergen's values are all about a high-quality work force for which we consider him part of. "
Mark Somerset,
Vice President
InterGen Europe
"Waiting on a quote from the British Red Cross "
Wendy Solesbury MBE
Youth Development Manager, British Red Cross
"We work with photographers that try to capture the essence of our work and reflect our company values in terms of design. Jonathan produces excellent results every time with creative flair. He is highly professional to work with as well as personable. "
Sean Collins & James Felstead
Directors of CGL Architects.
"Whether on a farm in East Africa, a Trawler in the Atlantic or a Royal Palace in London, Jonathan consistently delivers photography that makes us look good to our clients. "
Paul Campbell
Director of Purple Patch Group
"Jonathan has been a pleasure to work with, professional, well organised, creative and always delivering to the brief. Considering the breadth of topics we have asked him to work on around the world, he has also shown himself to be resourceful and flexible. "
Judith Batchelar,
Director of Sainsbury's Brand
"Waiting on a quote from the British Red Cross "
Wendy Solesbury MBE
Youth Development Manager, British Red Cross
"Jonathan Banks has captured the faces of different people that vividly represent the human side of the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh where each individual remains above all a human being with his or her right to be what they are, wherever they live, with dignity and in peace. "
EU Ambassador in Yerevan
"Jonathan has travelled to Intergen's power plants in Mexico, Australia and Europe and produces consistently high quality photography. Intergen's values are all about a high-quality work force for which we consider him part of. "
Mark Somerset
Vice President, InterGen Europe
X

photography

23

Jan

2020 vision for the future of retail

  • By Jonathan Banks

Numerous headlines have declared the decline, or death, of the high street and, indeed, many facts would seem to support this point of view. 2019 was the worse year on record for British retail. High Street sales fell for the first time in 24 years with 12% of stores now standing empty. In the United States there are about 1,200 shopping malls with one-third of them already failing.

Originally the high street and shopping mall was the centre of activity and social life for many people. With technological and social changes, we are shopping and interacting differently. Our current generation is the most informed and diverse in history, actively seeking out new experiences. High Streets and shopping malls cannot remain a collection of independent outlets that make up a whole, they must become contributing factors that create an experience for the consumer.

I photographed the Mall of Egypt in Cairo for the architects CallisonRTKL and operated by the Majid Al Futtaim Group. Last year CallisonRTKL topped the “Visual Merchandising and Store Design” ranking for the third year in a row. The 280,000-SM Mall of Egypt offers a dynamic mix of activities connected by a series of indoor and outdoor public spaces that respond to the region’s climate and lifestyle.

Located in Cairo’s modern 6th of October district, the retail and entertainment destination is designed to LEED Silver standards and is intended to foster a family-centred sense of community. The two-level centre includes a hypermarket, global flagship retail, a range of dining options, and exceptional entertainment venues including a cinema complex, the first indoor snow park in Africa and Magic Planet entertainment. The centre’s master plan is divided into three themed zones, each designed to complement the other and integrate with the overall 6th of October city master plan: Zone 1 or “The City” is arranged in a series of streets lined with retail and family-friendly public spaces. Zone 2 or “The Desert Valley” has an elegant interior, housing the centre’s upscale department stores, international retailers, and a central courtyard for music and cultural events. Zone 3 or “The Crystal” is characterised by its dynamic lighting and is the mall’s destination for leisure and entertainment.

The Mall of Egypt has been designed as a consumer engagement space with a sense of community created out of the entertainment, experiences, and services which are offered. It is no longer a place for retailers to push out product offerings into a mass market but somewhere which has a pull-marketing approach orchestrated around the needs and interests of an increasingly diverse consumer market, segmented by age, ethnicity and locality.

To succeed in the future the industry will always have to think like the customers it serves. The high street and shopping centre have to create a platform where people engage with brands to facilitate sales in an environment that is conducive to their requirements. There won’t be a “one size fits all” design concept but there will be certain elements that will transcend different shopping centres. Entertainment and the experience will be a key factor along with the dining facilities.

Specifically designed mini cities where people live, and work is one concept foreseen as the future of the mall. These would also feed into the appetite of the increase of consumer tourism of places to visit and shop. What we can foresee is that where we shop in the future will not look like the traditional high street as we know it. It will be an entirely new retail experience—one that will change throughout the year and even throughout the day to keep people coming back for new, fresh experiences. These advancements will affect developers, consumers, retail brands and designers, from the smallest neighbourhood to the most impressive Class-A regional shopping centre. The future of retail is ever-changing and ever evolving and it’s up to developers, retailers and designers to pinpoint what fads will fade and what trends will cement themselves and flourish into the future.

Behind the scenes

Photographing any project abroad has a number of challenges. I always work with the architect / designer and the building management team.

There are three important elements to photographing this sort of project. The first is understanding and appreciating the design of the project through talking with the architect and drawing up a shot list of spaces and features to be captured. After establishing a shot list, we agree on how long the shoot will take and start organising a suitable date agreeable to all parties involved. It is always best to photograph any space as soon as possible to showcase the project and avoid any wear and tear. However, too early after its completion and you may not have all the units filled and subsequently less people visiting. There are also additional considerations of local public holidays or unique events to consider. It definitely pays to speak with the building’s management team.

The third element is the logistics of photographing such a project and working in a different country. There is the obvious consideration of what essential equipment I need to take, where to stay local to the project, visas, weather etc. Then there are the unforeseen challenges that you have to work with, such as equipment failure and illness.

When I first landed in Cairo I had organised being picked up and taken to my hotel. The driver explained how I needed to pay for my visa in either Euros or dollars. I had neither so had to negotiate a local currency rate. On learning that I was a photographer he asked me how much equipment I had and whether I had more than one camera. I always travel within a whisker of the weight allowance with as many bags as permitted. These will contain some extra clothing and a toothbrush but 99% is equipment! My driver proceeded to tell me that of the last two people he had attempted to pick up with film and stills cameras one had been detained for five hours and then allowed to proceed without his equipment and the other had been turned away. Lucky for me we were just waved through.

18

Nov

SIPA Awards Conference

The SIPA Awards are a celebration of photography where Siena becomes the heart of the festival during October and November. The event is organised into personal and collective exhibitions, workshops, seminars and conferences. After five years Luca Venturi has created one of the most important international photography contests in the world. The SIPA Awards provide a unique opportunity for photographers to share their creativity and knowledge with likeminded photographers.

I was asked to speak at the Sipa conference along with six other distinguished photographers. The conference was held in the University of Siena with an audience of 200. I spoke alongside fellow speakers, Mary Calvert (documentary photographer), Philip Coburn (Editorial Photographer), Florian Ledoux (Nature and Wildlife Photographer), Alessio Paduano (Editorial Photographer), Hannes Lochner (Wildlife Photographer) and Constanza Portnoy (Documentary Photographer).

The conference had an overall title of “The Storytelling Power of Photography” and the talks included human impact in the environment, new ways of approaching journalism, social justice in photography, the coverage of migration issues, modern ways of storytelling, ethical storytelling and more.

I spoke about the challenges of being a humanitarian photographer. I recognise the confines of my working practice, being impartial within photojournalism / humanitarian photography, being commissioned by charitable organisations to produce images that are positive to their efforts and balancing my charitable photography with commercial photography. The tiresome debate over the politics of photography is in danger of overshadowing the real challenges of making a difference.

I also sat on the panel for a question and answer session. The conference was attended by captains of the industry and students of photography. It was great to be part of Luca’s vision of sharing photography with the world.

Thanks to Mario Llorca for the photos.

For more details about the conference check out SIPA Awards

31

Oct

Siena International Photography Awards Festival

The SIPA Contest is so much more than just photography awards. It is a festival of events for creatives to network and connect. When Luca Venturi (creator and artistic director) first imagined the festival, he set his target on making Siena the heart of the photography world that would bring photographers together from around the world.

We are happy to have created a large family, a community with photography at its centre, as a form of international language that connects people of every culture and social background. A dream come true, supported by partners and institutions that together with us continue to invest in the power of imagination and the power that images have to be able to tell stories full of meaning " – Luca Venturi

In addition to the Awards ceremony there are a number of events over the course of the weekend for the photographers to participate in – most of them involve a glass of wine or two! I was asked to speak at the SIPA conference along with six other distinguished photographers who I now count as friends. The conference was held in the University of Siena with an audience of 200. I spoke alongside fellow speakers –

Mary Calvert (USA)- Documentary Photographer - maryfcalvert.com

Philip Coburn (UK) – Editorial Photographer - Philip Coburn LinkedIn

Florian Ledoux (France) – Nature and Wildlife Photographer - www.florian-ledoux.com

Alessio Paduano (ITA) – Editorial Photographer - www.alessiopaduano.it

Hannes Lochner (ZA) – Wildlife Photographer - www.hanneslochner.com

Constanza Portnoy (AR ) – Documentary Photographer - www.constanza-portnoy.com

The conference had an overall title of “The Storytelling Power of Photography” and the talks included human impact in the environment, new ways of approaching journalism, social justice in photography, the coverage of migration issues, modern ways of storytelling, ethical storytelling and more.

The exhibition was officially opened by me at the Ex Distillery Lo Stellino along with the launch of this years “Beyond the Lens” book featuring all the winning photographs. The exhibitions are one of the Festival’s main events, hosted by the most important locations of Siena. The exhibitions will run until Sunday 1 December.

30

Oct

The SIPA “Photographer of the Year” 2019

  • By Jonathan Banks

My photograph titled “A boy from the crowd” of a Liberian child trying to retrieve his ball is the overall winner of the fifth Siena International Photography Awards, the photography contest that has the widest international participation

Jurors selected the winning image from photographers from 161 countries.

I received my award at an incredible ceremony on Saturday 26th October, in the historic Teatro dei Rinnovati theatre in Siena, Italy. The event was attended by over 300 photographers plus distinguished guests from all over the world, once again consecrating SIPA as one of the most important photographic awards in the world.

The picture was photographed for the peacebuilding organisation, International Alert who works with people directly affected by conflict to build lasting peace. I had been asked to document their work in Liberia where they supported various programmes to build stability.

One of the projects that I covered was the annual Cultural Festival which sees people from difference cultural, linguistic and ethnic groups coming together to celebrate peace in a country that was torn apart by 14 years of brutal conflict.

In this three-day festival, on the outskirts of Monrovia, the crowd was tens of thousands of people. I was interested in photographing the people attending and the West African peacekeeping troops who were keeping order, as well as the performances themselves.

With any subject, I observe what is happening whilst trying to determine how I can best show what is front of me. I have revisited the digital series of photographs to see how I came to this particular photograph. I am normally so immersed in seeing how to frame the picture and capture the moment that I am unaware of everything else.

I started by photographing the soldiers, but then changed to what was more interesting in the crowd. I had been circling this soldier, when I sensed something occurring behind. Suddenly out of the crowd leaned this boy reaching for his precious ball. This was a child who had grown up in war and had good reason to be scared of soldiers and their guns. He wanted to get his ball back, but his eyes were fixed on the soldier. This all happened in the blink of an eye and resulted in this picture, which seems to represent the precariousness of peace, as seen through the eyes of a young child with little understanding of the greater dynamics at play. All he knew was, he wanted his ball back, but also to stay safe.

“In just a few years the Siena International Photo Awards has become one of the most important photographic competitions in the world - explains Luca Venturi, creator and artistic director of the Festival - A success not only linked to the enthusiasm, dedication and passion of the participants , but also to the fact of wanting to keep in the heart of the "Siena Awards" what was the initial dream. From the beginning we had the courage to imagine that Siena could and should become the capital of photography. and by virtue of this 'crazy idea' we have chosen to organize a festival capable of bringing together photographers from all over the world. We are happy to have created a large family, a community with photography at its centre, as a form of international language that connects people of every culture and social background. A dream come true, supported by partners and institutions that together with us continue to invest in the power of imagination and the power that images have to be able to tell stories full of meaning ".

In addition to the shots of the Sipa, until Sunday December 1 the city of the Palio hosts exhibitions and exhibition events with the protagonists of the images and extraordinary reportages made by the most important international photographers. A unique body of images that will make Siena the world capital of photography.

- Exhibition info: Siena International Photo Awards 2019

- When: 28 October - 1 December 2019.
- Where: Siena , various locations .

 

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