Jason Larkin

10 QUESTIONS: Jason Larkin

The photographer discusses his book, After the Mines

BY ALEXANDER MATTHEWS

Award-winning British photographer Jason Larkin has worked as a documentary photographer in Africa and the Middle East ever since he graduated from his photojournalism MA in 2007. His images have been exhibited in locales as varied as Dubai, Brighton and Toronto, and have graced the pages of Monocle, NYT Magazine, Colors and numerous other titles.

Published earlier this year, After the Mines is a 32-page broadsheet featuring images of Johannesburg’s mine dumps, taken by Larkin over a period of three years.

When did you know you wanted to become a photographer?

It’s been an ongoing process from picking up a camera at the age of 17. I’ve been involved with different aspects of lens-based media, but in the last five years it’s all been about photography.

Who are you main photographic influences?

Josef Koudelka, Simon Norfolk, Guy Tillim and Jim Goldberg.

How has your approach to photography evolved since you completed your Master’s?

I’ve focused less on trying to make money, and more about trying to understand and capture particular aspects of the world around me through long-term projects and extended research.

The rule your work by?

Don’t rush.

Best piece of advice you’ve received?

Don’t wait for the phone to ring.

What drew you to work in South Africa?

After discovering the mine dumps I just wanted to come back more and more until I actually moved there.

How did After the Mines come about?

From spending a couple of months in Johannesburg and them being the most alluring, odd and connected part of Johannesburg’s history.

What are the images’ overarching themes?

These dumps contain a world within Johannesburg. They are remnants, monuments to man’s dominance over the landscape. Mining has its presence across the Johannesburg landscape, event if the industry has disappeared.

What’s the most surprising thing you encountered while working on the project?

The scale of the damage on the environment that mining has left.

Explain the role of books in mediating photography?

For me, and for this project, it is the perfect medium for me to get the full idea across to a viewer. To bring together critically important text, historical elements, the right and specific sequencing of images, all in a manor that make read right. It’s also something that you can come back to over and over.

After the Mines is published by Fourthwall Books, R80.

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