Jon Tonks is a medium format photographer who taught us how to use medium format today. Before this he gave us a talk on his life and work.
Tonks originally went to University to study design. After doing so he went travelling which is how he discovered his love for photography. After going travelling he wanted to start his photography career which for him was working for a newspaper in Birmingham. He eventually found this job tedious and wanted to boost his photography skills by doing a masters in documentary photography.
By doing a masters in documentary photography this then inspired him to develop a documentary book called Empire.
‘Empire’ is a journey across the South Atlantic exploring life on four remote island. British Overseas Territories; Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, the Falkland Islands and St Helena.
Tonks spoke to us about his use of medium format on the island and why it was his chosen medium. He said he likes the simplicity of a medium format camera, it stops you from stressing about taking the perfect photograph as you simply don’t know until you get your film developed. He always kept in mind what he heard from one of his favourite photographers Mark Power which was just to fit as much information in a square frame as you possibly can. He also said that with medium format cameras generally being simple if there is a problem with it you can often physically fix yourself where as SLR cameras are a lot more technical which you couldn’t fix yourself on the move.
This photograph was taken on one of the islands with the smallest populations also where no one has been arrested before which Jon Tonks found ironic due to how strict this police officer was and his vast gun collection.
This photograph was taken of one of the islands weather balloon man, who had interesting techniques of predicting the weather.
Tonks often found himself in odd situations on order to capture unique photographs and stories. For an example in the photograph above he was determined to have the horizon level whilst being in a very rocky boat therefore he had a very large man essentially as tripod keeping him up right.
I found it very interesting having more of an insight into what these islands are like. He often found that these British owned islands were more patriotic then Britain itself.
Overall I am very big fan of Jon Tonks work, I felt it was very interesting and original. I am honoured to have been taught how to use medium format by him.