Tales of a Flaneur Newsletter for November 2011. Every month I share a brief note from my travels and provide an update on new work and upcoming exhibitions.
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To see, not gaze 

How long do you spend looking at a painting in a gallery? Do you walk past the pictures and then circle back to a particular work that caught your eye? Or do you go from painting to painting and spend one, two, three minutes and gaze? Why do you examine this work, but not that one? On a visit to the Tate in Pimlico this weekend, I spent several minutes in front of a painting by William Turner and immersed myself in the smear and swirl of colours that recall mornings spent watching the sun seep through fog until it blinds me. I love to I point my camera into the sun and see what we are not necessarily meant to see. 

On the way home, I thought about how I want you to experience my work. Unless you see my images in a gallery, you will view them online and on any number of devices: iPhones, iPads, web browsers on a Mac or a Windows-based PC. The resolution, brightness and dimensions of each screen will be different. You determine, more than ever before, how you experience my images. But I still strive to make pictures that stir you. Imagine this: plunge into a pool of cool water and open your eyes; grasp an elecrified fence and hold on until your arm tingles; visit the grave of a parent or grandparent, run your fingers along the edge of the stone and remember them in their prime; give your lover a lingering kiss and savour every exquisite sensation: my images should evoke these things.

See my images, come to know me - please do not gaze.
— John Matthews

Prints, Custom Work & Licensing

Although you're experiencing my work online, these images look gorgeous on one's desk or wall - tangible objects and mementos of a visceral experience, a keenly felt moment. Every month I change the images in my shop to match the season or to feature new work.
I’ve created a standard print offering: every image is available as an A3 size archival print mounted on a 5mm piece of white foamboard. It’s simple, elegant and ready to hang on your wall or to be framed. Each piece costs £40 plus shipping (it’s roughly £15 to the United States, £6 here in the UK). I also licence my images for television, web sites, blogs, corporate presentations and for printed media.
But I really love making custom pieces that perfectly fit the atmosphere of particular space, so please drop me a line with your requirements.

View the Flaneur Shop


Unique portraits that say something about you

I specialise in creating distinctive, beautiful portrait photographs that capture the individuality of the sitter. Unlike most professional photographers who use digital cameras to take multiple images in pre-defined poses and settings, I use traditional medium format and 35mm film to give each image a truly unique look and feel. 

My approach is to photograph the client in his or her everyday world: at home, in a well-loved place or outside in a place of natural beauty, not in a studio. Typically, my clients and I spend 30 mins over a cup of coffee or tea to make sure we're both clear about what we'd like to achieve before we get started.
I was really flattered by this testimonial from William, a recent client: "As an actor, I usually find photo shoots daunting. You're not hiding behind a character, you're baring your soul. After my shoot with John, I realised it's not so bad to bare a little of your soul." The key to what I do is providing a personal service that gives the client a set of images they will love, so please don't hesitate to drop me a line or book a session.

View Portraits: You are the people

Notes for November, 2011 - An Urban Fox

The sharp bark of the dog cut through the music from my iPhone late one Autumn night. I tugged the earphones loose and listened to the yelping and scratching that came from the other side of the pub's walled garden. For a moment I thought the frantic pooch might be upset with me. I stopped just where the wall meets the pavement. Just beyond the the lamplight, I saw the bristling back of a waist-high creature sway to and fro as it walked toward me. The dog tore at the stone as if his claws were pickaxes.
A well-fed, ruddy fox stopped and stared at me. His front half spilled out into the light; his haunches remained safe in the darkness.
"Hello Fox," I said. Thus, to the fox I revealed one of my more eccentric secrets - the occasional chat with animals. "Lovely evening".
No, I did not expect a reply. I said I was eccentric, not bonkers. I developed this conversational tendency when as a boy I was left alone with a menagerie of family animals. Those few times I fed the horses, they seemed to appreciate a kind - or stern - word in the morning. Of course my mother spoke with the horses or the dogs when caring for or training them and it always seemed to make sense. When I visit the magnificent red deer at Knowle Park in Sevenoaks I often have a quick word. I think the deer would prefer a block of salt, but they usually can spare a moment to chat before rejoining the herd.
I have had little practise reading the expression of foxes, so I couldn't say if the creature looked at me quizzically, contemptuously or simply pleading for a scrap of food. Since the fox remained calm, I felt him to be more friend than foe. The yapping of the dog bothered us both.
"Loud dog, eh? Well, hope you find some delicious scraps tonight. Night". The fox moved on into the darkness and I continued along the pavement toward my flat which really wasn't too terribly far away. I suppose I could have invited the fox over for a cup of tea and a bit of pre-Christmas panatone (the Marks and Spencer variety I bought quite randomly the other day and which I dislike - the large sugar cubes on top more suitable for submerging in coffee than atop a cake), but I usually don't host foxes in my sitting room.
I turned around and found the fox walking only a few paces behind me. Despite my inexperience with vulpine expressions, I think he smiled. Or leered. Perhaps it was a brave face at being turned away.
"Very sorry, Fox, but you really can't come over tonight. I'm just coming back from a screening and need to get some things done before bed".
Things, eh? The fox was unimpressed, but not entirely surprised.
"If you cross the road - carefully, Fox - and turn the corner there, you'll find a restaurant's rubbish bin. Surely something yummy awaits? Good evening Fox, hope to see you again".
He crossed the road with me and then branched off in the direction I suggested. The dog at the pub finally relaxed and did something doggy and quiet on the other side of the rock wall. I slid the gold key (difficult to tell the difference between the gold and silver keys at night) into the lock of my door and thought I really should make the fox a cup of tea and leave out a generous portion of that panatone.
The next morning, as I rushed into the darkness of the Fleet Road at 7am, I walked past that restaurant and the charming fox from last night trotted from out of the doorway at number 103 to greet me. We stood about two feet from each other, I wished him a very good morning and continued on to catch my train from Hampstead Heath station.
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