Empty World – Interview with James Needham

James Needham is really good at conveying an empty world in the middle of an ordinary unclouded day. I think it’s fair to say his photos, that may lack in population, do not lack in life, colour, or human footprint. His work takes you into scenes so perfectly timed out and calculated you feel most comfortable looking at them through the creators lens, because hey, you didn’t create these scenes you just like looking at them. To be picked up and placed in the middle of a James Needham photograph would be a bit of a mind fuck as you wait for the one existing passer-by for directions. The passer-by you trust for directions concerning how to get the hell out of this cheery post apocalypse place also happens to colour coordinate and match perfectly with their surroundings. How oddly appropriate and perfectly trusting.

Why does that woman’s shirt match perfectly with the building behind her? Where did all the people go?

Doesn’t matter. This is James Needham’s world. 



In a few words, who is James Needham?

James Needham is a photographer who wishes at least once a day that he was a painter instead.

What do you shoot with? 

I shoot everything using a digital camera. Either a Canon 5D or Nikon D810

There’s a continuous theme throughout your work. What would you call it? 

The subject of my work varies a lot but the aesthetic is the connecting tissue. I’m interested in lines and shape and colour. High key, overly saturated tones.

Do you think your taste in photography coincides with your overall aesthetic? (The way you dress, your living space, choice in movies, music, etc)

I’ve never considered that but oddly no. I love old B&W movies and I typically wear the same jeans and grey t-shirt, of which I have 20. Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to bright colours when looking through a lens, because everything else around me is typically quite monochromatic. Good fucking question.




When’s the best time of day to take a photo?

I suppose I get the most out of the morning and evenings. When the sun stretches the shadows out over the city.

Where’s the best spot? 

I’m drawn to deserted areas around a city. The spots people travel through rather than to.

Where’s the spot you haven’t been to yet but plan to check out?

A road trip across America has been on my list for quite a while. Get in a car in New York and weave my way to the Pacific Ocean. I’ve been on smaller trips but the coast to coast adventure is certainly a must one of these days.

Were you the type of kid that coloured in the lines? 

You know I believe I was and I think that fastidiousness and devotion to detail is reflected in my work today.

You have to take a photo of your food because the millennial generation told you to. What’s on your plate? 

Pasta. I honestly don’t care what kind I just love Pasta.

To your eye, what makes a good photo?

I think the most interesting thing about viewing any sort of visual media is how the person who created it chooses to frame their subject. There is a limited amount of space within a viewfinder and what you choose to fill it with says a lot about you and what you were feeling during that time. It’s like a Rorschach test that you create yourself.



Interview by Lauren L. Smith
In collaboration with SPIT GALLERY