INTERVIEW – Jonathan Hobin

Posted on April 7, 2012


“Look around your classroom, these are the people you are going to work with, forever.”

Firstly I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself.

 What’s your favorite part about doing your work? Constructing it, photographing it, editing it, etc.

Arranging the components that make up the image, I love the idea of sketching, planning, and creating this vision that comes to life step by step as it’s constructed. I don’t love photography, I’ll spend around 5 minutes with a camera before I get bored, to me it’s more about the image making, rather than the image taking.

 My favorite series of yours is “In the Playroom” where did the inspiration for that come from? And how do you come about new ideas and projects for yourself?

We tend to reflect back on childhood and compose a sense of innocence, perfection and a stress free life, it’s the part of our lives we refer back to as the best time of our lives. Where as in my work I’ve aimed to break these conventions by looking at the darker elements of childhood, a child’s problem solving ability also adds a suggestive perspective towards our own abilities to solve problems which incorporates a dark humor.

I have no idea how I come around to new ideas, some days you just have this idea and you want to make it reality. Other days you have to really force an idea into your head. These ideas can come naturally and take years before you have the props and time to do it, such as my 9/11 photograph for example from the series, “In the Playroom” I didn’t finish that photograph for roughly 3 to 4 years, and it can take even longer before a photograph feels right.

Where did all of these children come from? Surely it must have been difficult to legally photograph them? And also, why children?

The children had mainly come from family friends, modelling agencies and even my own family connections. It’s not like the children don’t enjoy posing, in fact they love it, they don’t do ballet and they don’t play football, instead they model.

My mother goose series had only involved three children who had been specially selected due to what they can convey because of the what personal experiences they have already had to go through within their short lives.

I found it quite hard to make a child not smile within my photo’s, but I couldn’t have them smiling because it wouldn’t convey the darker expressions I aim to express and the creepy depth to their ‘dead doll’ like eyes. These eyes are what really connect the viewer and gets them to re-act with more of an emotional impact towards my work.


What tips would you have for finding clients to work with and getting your portfolio recognized?

I’m not the best person to ask, i don’t work in the commercial side of work.  I’ve had success, I don’t know how it happened, a lot of artists/ photographers don’t know how much of a challenge it is to get your work seen. I do almost anything to get my work seen, such as small time interviews, entering all sorts of competitions and hosting exhibitions. You almost have to grab someone to the side and say “I’ve done something great and you need to pay attention.” To really grab their attention and that ‘too good for you attitude’ must be scrapped, otherwise you won’t get very far and miss out on opportunities. Enter competitions, even if you don’t win the judges still MUST look at your portfolio and if they like your work and see it recurring each year they’ll soon recognize you, so that £30 you spend to enter isn’t really a waste. Ask around for connections, you know that friend you have that knows an agency you want to work with, well there’s your connection, what connections your acquaintance’s/friend’s have are also yours, just ask!

Take that extra time to communicate to people that are considered ‘out of your league’, even if you send around 100 e-mails in one night and get 1 reply, that’s still your time well spent. Just maximize every opportunity you’ve got!


Any last words for university students such as myself?

When I first began working on the Mother Goose series I decided to get feedback from a family friend that worked for the Canada Council for the Arts. I liked my work but apparently he did not think it was that great. Being a student at the time and considering he was “an expert”, I lost my confidence for a while. Years later I showed the work to a gallery who was very excited about it. Although I had shown the work before and sold some of the images, I was still not sure what to expect. The work ended up selling quite well, despite the fact that I had created the images many years prior. Later on the Canada Council for the Arts collection director contacted the gallery and purchased an image directly. This is very unusual as the Art Bank (The Canada Councils Collection) normally purchases through an application process. The moral of this story was that one person’s opinion should not be the basis for what is considered good or not. That one experience effected my ego enough that I put my photography away for awhile. I had a great series hidden away for years that I still sell and that people are still interested in today. I just didn’t have the confidence to know it.

–           Interview hosted by Tom Coghill, Administrator of ‘Cogtography’

© 2012 T.Coghill Photography All Rights Reserved

Series:- “In the Playroom”

© Jonathan Hobin All Rights Reserved

Hobin’s work personally inspires me due to his creative and meaningful use of children within his work to represent the innocence of youth in iconically famous disasters and events. To me it gives a ‘breath of fresh air’ within vastly subjects and to not use the same ideas that every other phtographer has used to document/ photograph the 9/11 (as an example).

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Posted in: Interviews