Being a freelance creative has a lot in common with philosophy. Both straddle the line between the tangible and the intangible, both have varying degrees of value based on the perception of different people and both invite a lot of questions.
‘Why am I doing this? Do you think this could work? How are you going to make money?’ These are all common questions freelance creatives have been and will be asked until the end of time and celebrating the journeys of freelancers is a big part of Stoic Athenaeum.
Manchester based freelance photographer Jason Lock has spent plenty of time honing his craft in the freelancing wilderness and I recently spoke to him about his experiences.
Over video, Lock tells me he’s been in photography for a career that’s spanned 24 years and that it all started with feeling the emotion of the camera when he picked one up for the first time. From there, Lock worked on his craft through a documentary photography course at university and then went on to be hired by a local Manchester newspaper.
These formative years were crucial for helping him develop his skills for meeting deadlines and taking story-driven shots while working at different newspapers. After a stint in Cardiff, Lock returned to Manchester and eventually got work at the Manchester Evening News.
It was during this part of his career that Lock learned one of the most important lessons of being a freelancer. That you’ve got to build relationships and open doors into other people’s lives, which became part of his photography ethos.
From one-man wolf pack to being at the heart of the freelancing community
The conversation shifts to storytelling and Lock says photography stands out as a unique medium that complements the written word. It’s a marriage of emotions, of connecting strands of information together and that collaboration is vital for the freelance creative community.
While happy to be one-man wolf pack, Lock is just as comfortable working with freelancers across web design, editing and video production.
It’s reminiscent of Lock’s heroes from the legendary Magnum Photography Agency: Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David ‘Chim’ Seymour, who pooled their talents to create projects that became bigger than an individual. If they were around today, Lock would buy them all a pint down the local pub.
Lock has also been influenced by modern photographer Alex Webb, who weaves colour, light and people together in vivid imagery. Lock’s photography style is also vivid, crossing multiple communities and environments to capture moods and moments.
Another area where Lock stands out is with drone photography, shooting breath-taking vistas and panoramic views. Looking at these pictures evoke the philosophy of Stoicism, of the practice of taking the view from above and seeing the world from an objective standpoint.
Speaking of philosophy, I’m curious to know what Lock’s philosophy of life is and he sums it up as real people, real places and real issues.
With people, it’s about sharing the moment of a person’s life and providing insight into who they are. Places is about stepping behind the scenes and seeing how people interact in spaces they are comfortable with. When exploring issues through photography, Lock is conscious of contributing to the greater good and drawing attention to ideas that need to be addressed.
A great example of putting this philosophy into action is through a collaboration with Big Issue North, a UK charity that focuses on helping the homeless through media content and self-employment opportunities.
Tying in with the 30th anniversary of Big Issue North, Lock took portraits of the homeless in Manchester and of people connected to the charity to bring awareness to societal issues. Lock tells me it’s all come full circle to provide a window into what life in Manchester can be like and that there’s always hope in the future.
One thing is for certain. Every time Lock picks up a camera, he lives his philosophy.