Jamie Hawkeworth on British Isles, a Travelogue in Portraiture


For a long time that I actually left on the cover of the book really just for that very reason. But then actually in the end, because it didn’t feel right for anyone on the cover because the whole book’s about people. So why call one person out.

Photograph by Jamie Hawkeworth. 

You’ve been working on this as kind of your general practice for 13 years. At what point did you realize it was going to turn into a book? Is it finished?

About a year ago, was when I really sat down and was like, I’m going to start printing all of these portraits. I kept looking at the Preston Bus Station book when I was at home and I really kind of missed going out and taking photos here. To be fair, I’d been going to a lot of places around the world doing exactly what I did here in England, where I turned up I would walk around, I take people’s portraits, but it was really such a shame not to be doing it here for some reason. It just sort of felt like the right moment to actually start going out again and taking people’s portraits here. I stopped myself thinking “Hold on. You just did that for 13 years. Why don’t you actually look at what you’ve got and do that and start that first.”

I was printing with the idea that I might go back out and continue. But then I got commissioned by the British Vogue to do one of three key worker portraits. At that moment when I finished what felt like really incredibly meaningful portraits, that was a perfect time to stop this project and they should finish the book.

It’s a little bit of a relief, actually, just the nature of portraiture and particularly if you’re photographing people outside or people who are around it could have gone on forever.

The very last photo after the acknowledgments and everything of, I assume your feet and a tree, really cheeky. You were saying before, the context of walking, walking, walking, and you see an entire town in a day or two days. But then also in the context of having done this for 13 years nonstop, in this like lying back moment is funny.

The idea to put that at the end really was it’s the last picture I took. So basically, just after the key workers portraits, I got commissioned to go to this place called Knepp Castle Estate. I kind of stuck it in there because it was a really nice physical end, and it was my last photograph so it felt nice at the end of the book.


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