Guest speakers, Intersections, professional practice

Guest Speaker-John Maclean


Maclean specialises in Fine Art and Commercial work, he lives and works in central London, and has been an established, freelance photographer since 1998.

One to one tutorial:

During late morning I showed John Maclean some of my images during a one to one tutorial with him, from my project on Knowle West called Intersections, that I am doing as part of a personal project, thus creating the body of work with the University as my assignment for this term.  He gave me some tips on what he feels would work with my project and how to decide on which way to progress by using a specific style, which is my intention because I am unsure what the final piece will be for my submission at this point.  I would like to produce a series of large prints and a video or a zine.

During the later part of the day he did a speech on a presentation showing us  his projects, which were fascinating….He explained how he was curious about certain artists and how they are his ‘Art Heroes’.  Maclean created a google street map project on the areas in which his ‘Art Heroes’ live or were brought up and photographed them.  His project was called Home Towns and a photograph was on the front page of the B J P.

Google street view maps was his method for research but he never  relied on it,  Maclean also made notes on his project subject by researching and noting down important details that may help him to progress with his ideas.   He mentioned that he would arrive at his location with strategies which would change and how he likes the after image where he looks back.  He also mentions how the artists work he believes is much deeper than the surface that we see within their photographic work, and I completely agree.  He has read all of his ‘Art Heroes’  as he calls them biography’s and that Lee Miller is his favourite..

Some of his heroes are :

  • Lee Miller
  • James Turrell
  • John Baldessari
  • Robert Franks
  • William Eggleston
  • Cartier Bresson
  • John Gossage
  • John Bldssari


Maclean has produced many photo books, and has a lot of experience in the process, he   mentioned that Graphic designers are good to collaborate with when producing a book, (Note to self)

It was interesting to find that Robert Franks home town  was in zurich in Switzerland where he spent most of his life and not America. He also found by his research that William Eggleston grew up Memphis  in a place called summer, which is a very small area surrounded by fields and not much to photograph he explained,   he mentioned that  he felt he was getting nowhere. However he picked up on a snippet of information  regarding Eggleston’s health, he found that he had suffered with asthma and it was so bad that he could only go out at night.  So he photographed at night in his home town.   He mentioned that he looked for scenes that stacked together,

He enjoys commercial work and said he finds it easier  than working on Fine Art briefs, because Commercial Briefs are more precise;  where as with fine art no one really expresses exactly what they want or knows.   He then goes on to say how commercial  work is good practice for working with galleries and magazines regarding developing a good business head.


I have included some images above from is corporate work and from his project home towns.

The photographs from his Home Towns series above reminds me very much of my photographs from the Northern Slopes, my long-term project on Knowle West, that I am currently continuing  through my Developing Practice brief on Obsession and Intersections, that can be seen in Word press which is listed on the menu bar.  The way Maclean has framed his scenery and how the angles of the open space and the built up area that surround it has been framed in a sort of juxta position, with the contrast of both elements sitting within one space, is uncanny how these and ones from my project are so similar.  These findings have fascinated me, his work is truly inspiring and his commercial work is outstanding.

He is a talented photographer as well as being able to express his story on his documentary projects as he represents his ‘Art Heroes’ in various ways in his photographs, by his visual and textual research.

Maclean has worked photographically  in several places around the world, such as China, Brazil, Hong Kong, Japan in many areas of North America, Russia, Mexico, UAE, and Indonesia.

The publications that his work has been in are vast, which include:

publications, including: The Architects’ Journal (UK), The Architectural Review (UK), BluePrint (UK), Casabella (Italy), Design Week (UK), DBZ (Germany), Diseno Interior (Spain), Elle Decoration (UK), The Guardian (UK), Time Out (UK), Casa Brutus (Japan), Riba Journal (UK), AV Monographs (Spain), Creative Review (UK), FX Magazine (UK), New York Times (USA), A+U (Japan), Archicree (France), Neomania (Spain), Loft Publications (UK), Architectural Digest (Russia), Living Etc (UK), Arquitectura (Spain), The Observer Magazine (UK), Monument (Australia), L’architecture D’aujord’hui (France), The Sunday Times (UK)

I like his documentary style and his thoughts on how he feels that each photograph has more of a deeper meaning behind them.  The fact that he is so interested in finding out so much about his ‘Art Heroes’ and the way he researches such as reading biography and looking at the areas in which they grew up or spent most of their lives for example.  This reminds me of my project that I am doing on Knowle West which is where my fathers side lived for three generations.  I am also going to the place where my family once lived and places within that space that have relevance to my family, such as school, church, streets and finding my family home. I have also been using google street maps to find these places and this has been a considerable part of my research.  My project is very much deep rooted and has far more importance and meaning behind what you see…….I just hope I do it justice and show my viewers my story clearly, with creativity as Maclean did his.


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