Professor John Blakemore was born in Coventry, in England. He is a famous photography artist and printer, well known for his landscape, documentary, still life imagery, photographing the people of Coventry and post-war reconstruction. In the 1950’s he served in Libya with the Royal Air Force on National service were he found his first passion for photography. He was inspired from his own early childhood experiences from the war and by Edward Steichen’s, The Family of Man; made by Steichen also featuring work from Dorothea Lange, Cartier Bresson, Edward Weston and Bill Brandt.
The Family of Man Images
I be of the opinion that Blakemore suffered traumatic stress during his time in the Royal Air Force. He looked for a way out of the entrapment of the disturbances of everyday life and the post war reconstruction, turning to photography. Falling upon his creative ability I believe he wanted to capture the impact and the raw aesthetic of overcoming devastation in the same way ‘The Family of Man’ demonstrated familiar feelings and sparked inspiration.
Blakemore was a fully self taught photographer. He worked for Black Star Photography Agency as a freelance photographer and later became the UK’s leading landscape photographer. His landscapes were conceptual in their demonstration of natural forces and their effect on the landscape, and environment. For example, his work on tree wounds demonstrated environmental damage due to nature but was also a metaphoric example of the emotional damage sustained by the demise of his first marriage. This evolved into his work on elemental forces such as wind, and water erosion. These explorations were usually demonstrated via a sequential series of pictures taken over a period of time.
He also composed still life subjects, and has also found a fondness for tulips over the years as he was enticed by their gestural gracefulness and texture. Also completing a MA in film studies around the same time due to the parallels that can be found in photography, he obviously found similar themes and transferable skills from his vocation as a photographer.
His teaching career spanned from the late 70’s up until 2001. This culminated in his position of Emeritus Professor of Photography at Derby University, were he taught a diploma in Creative Photography. His exhibiting influence has been global and notable highlights of his career have won the following awards;
- Winner of Arts Council Award- British Travelling Exhibition, 1992
- Winner of Fox Talbot Award for Photography 1992
- ‘Honorary Fellow’ of the Royal Photographic Society 1998