Interview with Clem Ono - a member of our Photography Award panel

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

In this blog I would like to share with you an interview with Clem Ono @clemono - a lifestyle and street photographer, a member of our panel of judges for the #AnnaSteinhouseAward Photography Competition, which we are running until the 19th of August (incl.)

In this interview Clem tells us about his background as a photographer, shares his views about the Award and tells us what he will be looking for in the submitted works.

A: hello, I'm Anna Steinhouse. Have you heard about our photography competition that we are running until the 19th August 2020.

Have a look, there is a link in my bio to my blog, there are all the details that you need to know. It's a UK wide competition with a theme #AS_MyNewWorld, the idea is to capture our collective experiences during and post lockdown - there are wonderful prizes to be won. Please have a look at those, and we also have very experienced and interesting photographers on the judging panel, and I'm about to interview one of them - his name is Clem Ono.

Clem is a fantastic lifestyle street photographer, please welcome Clem.

A: Hi Clem how are you?

C: Very well thank you, how are you?

A: Very well thank you, and thank you for being here.

C: Thanks for having me.

A: The pleasure is really mine - so I've got a few questions, we'll keep it short.

A: A few questions, first of all about yourself, so could you tell us about your experience as a photographer.

C: Yes, I think I'd be described as a 'hobbyist' photographer, I'm not a professional photographer, although I stumbled into photography by accident really, I started doing Graphic Design, as an escapism from my day job, I actually work in finance, with figures and budgets - I wanted to explore my creative side. So I started playing around with photoshop and illustrator, and manipulating images, other people's photography, and I started to create various collages - crazy and whacky stuff with it.

A form of escapism and a way for me to explore what I could do and how I could push myself creatively, so I did that for about two years or so, then I realised that I was working with other people's photos, and couldn't really do much with it so, if I wanted to sell my work, because I didn't have the rights to the images, I couldn't actually do anything with it.

So I then decided to buy myself a camera, and take my own photos. So I could mess around with my photos and do whatever I wanted to do with it. And that's when I discovered I actually quite enjoyed the process of taking photos and editing them, and doing all sorts of things but not in the way I was doing before when I was working in Photoshop. So just enjoying photography, for what it really was.

I then joined a camera club, close to where I live, in Letchworth, and just really enjoyed being around other photographers and I learnt as I went along - we had various workshops, I learnt and grew and took pictures - I then discovered the world of Street Photography, which I really liked, a colleague bought me a Christmas present, a book on street photography, and then that opened up a different world for me - exploring what that meant. So I stumbled into Street Photography - I love being out there, getting lost on the streets and getting caught up in this crazy world, there's so much going on at any given time.

So much to photograph, I just get sucked up into all of that, and get lost for hours and hours in my old little world.

A: And you have very interesting lockdown photos as well.

C: Being in lockdown, I haven't taken as many pictures as I would be out taking - but it's meant that I've had time to review all the stuff I've taken down the line. And begin to catalogue them, and study them a bit more.

Constantly you are out taking photos, and you're not really taking stock of what's emerging, so I think having been in lockdown has helped me develop that sense of direction and style and where I want to go after lockdown - and how I see my photography developing and how it's grown over the last few years.

A: thank you so much for sharing that with us Clem, thank you for being a part of our judging panel, it's a real honour - could you tell us, why do you think this competition is important

C: I think the world is a totally different place from what it was four months ago, things have changed, a lot's happened, the pandemic, there's been a massive rise after the death of George Floyd in America, a massive movement in terms of Black Lives Matter - so there are several big issues on the platform at the moment. The world is NOT the same as it used to be, so this Photography Competition for me, My New World is a great opportunity for someone to showcase how they see the world - what's changed, what's happened, what the different nuances, things we've never seen before, compulsory now to have a facemask on the Underground, public transport, shops - it's not 'business as usual' - it's a lot different now.

I'm working from home, as a lot of people are, a different world - so if someone is able to capture that, in an image, would be amazing, I'd love to see the different takes on what My New World looks like.

A: Isn't it wonderful to have this collective experience, captured in this kind of competition, and we will have an exhibition afterwards as well.

C: It's a great opportunity for whoever wins, the prize is very attractive, I would encourage people to send something in, no matter how you feel your photography is, it's not about being a professional photographer, it's open to everyone and that's the beauty of the competition.

I would encourage everyone to participate. I've been in competitions in the past, I know what it's like - follow your heart - capture what ever is out there, that you feel represents the new world.

I've had a sneak peek at the submissions, there's some really really interesting photos coming through.

A: It varies so much, it's very interesting, the take, what people have captured.

C: Absolutely, a varied collection of images - I'm looking forward to getting to see the final submissions, and going through all of them.

A: Thank you so much, what would you be looking out for in the submissions.

C: I know as a street photographer, I'm slightly, I wouldn't say I'm bias, but naturally drawn to those kind of images - but to be honest, I've sat in competitions that have been judged, where you have a breadth of different images, so I would be looking for anything that makes me stop and think. Grabs my attention, catches my eye, something that captures the theme of the competition, in a creative way.

I've seen a few and don't want to comment and say what I like, just something that portrays the NOW, if you're scrolling through instagram, something that would make you STOP and think, 'oh what's this' - that's what I'm looking for!

A: Thank you for being a part of the panel, and being a part of this experience - I really appreciate it Clem.

C: Thank you, and thank you Anna for the opportunity - it's really great and I'm excited to be a part of it - and looking forward to judging when the competition closes on the 19th August 2020.

A: Bye for now Clem, thank you so much.

Read more about the Photography Award or on Instagram Photography Award

Find out more about Clem Ono's professional work here

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