Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jim Mortram


Jim Mortram is a photographer from England. He's my brother-in-law, and when I first got to know him, I realized how much he liked people and taking care of them. You can see it through his wonderful portraits and street photography. He finds inspiration in the persons he meets. Some people say that when you take pictures of people in black and white, the images have a soul. Then, I think we can all confirm that while looking at Jim's photographs. Jim's answers:


1. Can you tell a little something about you?
Jim Mortram: I work as a Carer and in the spare time I have I make social documentary portraits and photographs.

2. What does photography mean to you?
J.M: Everything. It's a way of documenting everything from stories, visual history, moments and lifestyles. Images resonate so profoundly and can last beyond both the photographer and the people portrayed. I see every portrait as a message in a bottle thrown into the future for people to discover, understand and connect with people from now.

3. How did you get into photography?
J.M.: When I was very young I found within an abandoned house a box filled with images of a family long departed. Hundreds of images were collected together and I marvelled at the story of this forgotten family and that chance discovery stayed with me forever and was my first introduction to the power of photography.

4. Do you use/like Photoshop?
J.M.: Yes... and yes. It's just a tool much like a flash or a filter. The use of it depends on the tastes of the user. I tend to apply the same techniques as I would do in a traditional darkroom. Lot's of dodge/burning.

I have a preference for darkroom work because of the sensory thrill of seeing an image be born by light and chemical reaction but I've no snobbery to preferrence of film over digital. They are incomparable to me so I never compare the two mediums. Both have pro's and con's... film is expensive, chemicals expensive whereas I can shoot a 4GB card for nothing... digital, depending on the camera/lens you have can be constrictive in low light situations which is often an issue for me as I love to shoot natural light but there are always techniques and ways to combat any shooting condition.

5. Are you a self-taught?
J.M.: Yes.

6. How would you describe your work?
J.M.: It's all about the person in front of the lens and nothing to do with the person behind the lens.

7. Do you prefer film or digital?
J.M.: Both have their place I feel. Some wonderful images can be made with both. It's very hard to say either way as there is so much more to the process than just the end result... with film you have developing and the feel of making a shot, of commiting it to film... digital is great for it's immediacy, the ability to share an image with a person instantly and relative low cost. Ultimately, both have their merits and benifits. It's the moment and the image that count more to me over the tools made to get it. 

8. What inspires you?
J.M.: People and their lives, stories and emotions.

9. If you had a time machine, when and where would you go?
J.M.: 1960. The whole world. It was such an exciting time socially, politically and the chance for a photographer to get work was vast.
I would have loved to photograph the 1960's... but that I am here, now both in my personal life and making the images I do... I really could not be happier!

©Jim Mortram 

You can see Jim's work on Flickr / Jim's website


  1. Merci tellement Lisa! Thank you so much for including me upon your wonderful blog. Keep up the amazing work! Big love from brother in law Jim! : )

  2. I love this blog. It's fabulous to have the opportunity to hear (or read) what photographers have to say about their work, and I love the diversity of the photographers you have chosen.

    I am very familiar with Jim's work and find it incredibly beautiful and inspirational. I do, however, disagree (humbly) with one statement he's made on your blog.. .and that is:

    J.M.: It's all about the person in front of the lens and nothing to do with the person behind the lens.

    I'm sure he had a particular idea in mind when he said this, but in my opinion, what sets aside a technically good photographer, from a great one is the ability "to see," to have a great eye which can catch a particular moment and tell an entire story in one frame. We can, I think, all learn to be technically good photographers, but without a good eye, the images are flat and lifeless. Jim, in particular, has the ability to see that particular moment which enables us to connect emotively with the subject and feel something, and so it is a partnership between the photographer and the subject.

    just one woman's humble opinion :-)

  3. I've admired Jim's work for a while now and it was great to read this interview. His work is very warm and, ultimately, humane and deserves to have as wide an audience as possible.


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