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Worker Bee: meet Jon Shard, the Advertising Photographer


Stockport-born Jon Shard has worked in the industry for nearly twenty years. He started out photographing bands like the Manic Street Preachers and working for the NME. His advertising campaigns have included commercials with Manchester United, Manchester City and, more recently, Barcelona.

He is currently working on a personal project of more abstract photography, capturing shapes, texture and colour through reflective surfaces, for an exhibition of his more expressive side and his first book in conjunction with the show.

What got you started in your field of work?

I assisted photographer Scott Carroll who took me under his wing for nearly six months and taught me a lot about lighting and the business side of photography. I was working in nightclubs at the same time and I used to photograph the gigs for free. After one of the shows at the Apollo, I approached the NME who gave me my break and I went on to photograph bands and gigs around the world. I started getting more national work, with publications like The Face and The Sunday Times and from there I moved into advertising photography as that seemed to be where the most work was – and the most financially lucrative as well.

Who have been the biggest influences on your work?

There are a lot of photographers I like but not that many that influence my professional advertising work. Personally, I love William Egglestone and Steve Shore and they definitely influence my personal projects.

What is your proudest achievement so far?

Having had several of my portraits acquired by The National Portrait Gallery, I’m proudest of that as they will remain there forever.

What does your typical day involve?

I don’t really have a typical day but when I’m on a shoot I’m up early, by 7am, and I will always have a cup of tea before a shoot on location. I normally have anything between one and three assistants who go through all the equipment check lists and do the set up. I do test shots to make sure the lighting is right and have everything to hand with back up options for the client. We might wait for three hours for some of the bigger players to arrive and then only have about two minutes with them to get the right shot. Preparation is everything. When the client is happy we can get off, normally by about 5 or 6pm.

How do you relax on your days off?

I go walking and fell running, not at the same time. It’s my form of release and takes my mind off work and reduces my stress levels. It also keeps me fit. I also love cooking, mainly fish.

What is the best advice you have been given or can give?

The right approach is so important. I never want my shoots to be too serious as I need to come across as friendly and approachable in order to get the best out of my subjects. Always be professional, but comfortable, too.

If things hadn’t worked out, what else could you have seen yourself doing?

A director. Films maybe?

Red or blue?


Tell us one thing about yourself people might be surprised to hear

I actually have a second team and support Plymouth Argyle F.C. My mother’s side of the family is Cornish and both my grandfather and my great grandfather used to support them and go to all their matches. I recently went to see them when we drew Liverpool which was quite a big thing for us.

Name your three favourite places in Manchester

London Road Fire Station. It was a disgrace, doing nothing for so long. It’s so beautiful and I’m thrilled it’s been restored and being used again now. Yuzu is my favourite restaurant and I go there once a week. And I love the Peak District. I go fell running on Kinder Scout a lot. It’s so far removed from the city but only a couple of miles away.

If you could change one thing about Manchester what would it be?

I want it to be cleaner. It’s just not clean enough, especially compared to other major cultural cities around the world. Whether it be the council, or just everybody doing their bit, we should all take more pride and responsibility to sort this out. It would also be great to see more green spaces in the centre.

And finally, what do you love most about Manchester?

I love that everything is in one place and it’s easy to navigate from one end to the other. It also has so much youthful creativity and always has.

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