On Thursday the 12th of January I entered a cool coffee shop in Blackpool to check out a cross-section of work from a photographer working internationally and locally who may be best known for documenting a thriving Northern Soul scene. This exhibition features engaging landscape and still life photographs as well as documentary images of his Kickstarter funded Photography trip to Brazil.
The coffee shop, Shaw’s was packed with people all enjoying a delicious free coffee and accompanying treats. Northern Soul DJ Johnny Loder was playing some classic northern soul tracks helping to create a warm ambience.
The man behind Explore and Capture is Richard Jon an alias for Richard Oughton but chosen for its easy spelling. He first picked up a DSLR over 8 years ago but always had a strong creative side. In his own words “I think having dyslexia words and education was hard but in the arts, I could excel.”
He said: “I’m a self-taught photographer, I don’t think of myself as a technical person, for me, it’s about looking and the creative side. After 7 years documenting the Northern Soul scene, words fail me when I try and describe how it has been, the amazing people and the trust created from being on the scene has meant a lot of doors opening that would not have ordinarily.”
Richard is a proud northerner born in Bolton, his family transitioned back and forth to Blackpool over time eventually settling in The Fylde. “Being by the sea is a big thing for me, open space, sunsets no feeling of being hemmed in”.
I wanted to know how he had got into photographing The Northern Soul scene. Richard told me after chatting with a friend at a gig he was photographing they struck up a conversation about a northern soul event in Blackpool. Within two days, e-mails had been sent to Richard Searling, a Wigan Casino DJ and the rest is history as they say. Richard said: “Its taken me all over the UK and Europe with many an all-nighter finishing at dawn, rolling in at 8am as everyone else is just getting up has become the norm for a long time”.
Richards trip to Brazil to capture the underground scene was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I asked him how this came about: “A friend lived in Brazil and we got talking about the scene out there and I just kept thinking to myself I need to go and photograph this… and then it hit me, Kickstarter? I’d seen a few other creatives successfully raise funds through it and I thought, well I will give it a go. With an hour to spare, I hit the target and immediately the trip of a lifetime started. The highlight for me was meeting Felix, my host, his family and friends complimented the journey that I shared with them over the two weeks. I have maintained those friendships and plan to return in the future. Memories from Brazil will remain with me forever, such as being stood in the middle of a jungle barefoot facing a beach, taking selfies with the sea behind me or taking a photo of an old man making a football where a local drug dealer thought I was the police! (We didn’t hang around). It was the smile on my face everyone commented on, I was knackered but so happy, relaxed and thankful for everyone who had believed in me and supported The Kickstarter to make this happen”.
Gina Parkins Blog accompanies Richards images: https://ginasadventuresblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/northern-soul-still-underground-in-brazil/
twitter: Richard Jon @rjimage
What next for you Richard?
“I’m going to be working with 5 other photographers on a portrait project with the work hopefully being shown at the Harris Museum in Preston. This first stage is with teenagers 13-19 shooting in both film and digital.
Northern Soul will always play a key roll in my life alongside photography with an ongoing studio portrait project. I am continually out with my camera and keen to experiment with some pinhole in the future encompassing land & seascapes, I will continue to teach photography after all photography as well as Northern Soul is a “Way of Life”.