Behind the Lens: Jonathan Daniel Pryce
"In reality, I love to delve into the depths of humility through my work and don’t value material goods highly."
Jonathan Daniel Pryce or as many of you may know him as "@GarconJon" on the web. He is an award winning Scottish photographer who transplanted in London, UK. Pryce is known for his amazing street style photography - who just celebrated his 10 years in the industry. He is also known on his work on the 100 Beards, Gentlemen, and Man/Men Journal projects. His clients include some of the world’s most renowned fashion magazines including, Vogue GQ, Esquire, and Mr. Porter. With over one hundred thousand followers across his social media accounts, Jonathan is a well established photographer and serves as a clear example of someone who is young and talented. Learn more about him as we go behind the lens with Jonathan Daniel Pryce.
MFP: Who is Jonathan Daniel Pryce a.k.a. GarconJon?
Garçon Jon: Scottish photographer based in London with a focus on the street and exploring what it means to be a man in today’s culture.
MFP: What are your earliest memories of street style photography and your initial perception of that particular style of photography?
Garçon Jon: My good friend’s family home has a large print of a man in Glasglow by Oscar Marzaroli. That’s etched quite strongly in my mind and when I turned 17 I moved to Glasgow. That city has such a strong aesthetic. The people are specific to the location and so I’d practice photography as I walked around my neighbourhood there. I always loved gaining a window into another peoples world. Street photography is, on the whole, non-fiction. It really happened and was mostly unstaged. I can imagine myself in that time, in that space. This is what I find so interesting.
MFP: As you began your street style photography career, what changes did you make to your approach that helped perfect your craft?
Garçon Jon: At the start, it was all focused on Glasgow. I began taking it seriously at around 19 and nearly every day would take at least one photo a day. That was a huge learning curve. There have been so many changes that it would be impossible to list them all. Looking back over my work, one thing that I really see as how I use light. I really didn’t understand when I began.
MFP: For someone who leans towards the classic London style of fashion, what is your opinion on streetwear and the impact that streetwear is having on street style coverage?
Garçon Jon: Four times a year I photograph street style during the collections and my primary focus is documenting change. I definitely have more classic taste in terms of style, but I love seeing what’s new. The shift towards sportswear was an exciting change a few seasons ago and it was great to see how people were adapting it for their personality. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s new in menswear in June.
MFP: The menswear market continues to grow, what do you see as being one of the biggest contributing factors to this and how important has street style photography been on this growth?
Garçon Jon: I couldn’t really judge why it’s grown. I would guess that it has to do with a greater disposable income for a certain group of people and the idea that [the] millennial focus on living for today more than other generations past. Over the past 10 years, street style has opened a door into the real world. In some ways it democratises style and with men in particular, there’s a practical element to dressing which generates excitement and ideas on a tangible level.
MFP: If we compare street style then and now, what differences do you see?
Garçon Jon: I’ve been looking back at some early photographs of mine from around 2005-7 when it was all starting. In that time period the “street style” genre was more authentic than it is now. Even fashion editors from luxury magazines during fashion week would wear dirty jeans and vintage jackets. Many would be wearing their own clothes, which is the biggest shift to today when brands gift and lend whole collections just to be worn over fashion week. Street style outside fashion week has somewhat died and the focus is often on product rather than personal style. On the photography side, I see so many new faces thinking that street style will be a ticket to professional success and fashion week parties. I don’t think the early photographers who started out really thought of it this way, mainly because being an ‘influencer’ didn’t exist.
MFP: Biggest lessons learned as time has gone by?
Garçon Jon: I’ve learned to follow my instinct both in terms of creative decisions on a shoot and also my career trajectory. More than that, for me it’s about hard work and consistency. Keep on keeping on and the road will unfold before you.
MFP: Do you have any regrets regarding your career as a photographer?
Garçon Jon: Je ne regrette rien.
MFP: What would be a few of your top basic but essential tips for aspiring photographers?
Garçon Jon: Try to shoot something of significance every week. For me, the best learning is in the field rather than technicals. Remember that every iconic photograph from the past was taken with a camera less advanced than the one you own today, so never blame your equipment. The other thing to remember is, if you are dissatisfied with your work it shows you have a good eye. If your mind is more advanced that your current capabilities you have growth and drive to move forward. Finally, learn how to use light.
MFP: Is there a particular go-to camera & lens setup that you use?
Garçon Jon:For street photography I use my Canon 5D. It’s so hardy and handles different weather perfectly. My favourite lenses are the 50mm, 80mm and 70-200mm. For the studio, I tend to use my Pentax 67 or 645, both film and digital. I have so many 35mm cameras it would be hard to list but my favourite at the moment is my Contax G2.
MFP: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Garçon Jon: Healthy, happy and working with people who lift others up.
MFP: What has been your biggest accomplishment/s based on your personal opinion? What has been your biggest accomplishment/s based on people’s opinion?
Garçon Jon: I think I’m yet to have my biggest accomplishment. I’m always looking forward so the next project that consumes me will be the main focus of pride. It’s funny what sticks in people’s minds, my 100 Beards project is asked about frequently. I started it in 2012 and the book still sells out every Christmas. I think that has a special place in people’s hearts
MFP: Finally, what is the biggest misconception that some people might have of you?
Garçon Jon: Maybe an outsider could think that I’m superficial or obsessed with fashion. In reality, I love to delve into the depths of humility through my work and don’t value material goods highly.