Blog

A photography blog with travel and feature stories by John Matthews, a photographer and flâneur based in London, England.

One Night in Doha

I've been working as a group head of product for the beIN Media Group for several years, based in Qatar, Paris, London and Sydney.

In 2015, I went out one night with two of my colleagues in Doha to explore the neighbourhood around the massive Msheireb redevelopment project. We all brought cameras and posted some pictures.

I am working on a much larger project based on my time in Qatar.

View: One Night in Doha

How do we come to feel as though we know a place? An exploration of Paris.

How do we come to feel as though we know a place? I've been travelling to Paris - and now Qatar - for work for the past couple of years. Although my practise of photography never ceased, the frequency of my writing and posting decreased.

But I wanted to share some thoughts about how one comes to "know" a city or place and give you a glimpse of the images I made in Paris.

View: Paris, Photographs and Stories

It starts from curiosity

This Radio Open Source conversation between Christopher Lydon and Bernd Heinrich resonated with me. Perhaps it reminded me of my childhood spent in the countryside, my complicated relationship with the natural world and some recent musings on one's life and death.

Read More

Milan in the spring

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

Since April, my flâneur travels kept me moving from Itay to France and back home again to London. Although my cameras accompanied me wherever I went, I am somewhat behind in sifting through the negatives and editing them into a cohesive whole. I've missed bringing you images, so here is the first step toward catching up: snapshots from my time in Milan.

View: Milano, Italia

Source: ../milano

Flâneur Newsletter 09 - March 2012 - Changes

For the past couple of weeks, I laboured nights and weekends to bring you a wholly new version of my Tales of a Flânuer web site. When I'm not roving around London or exploring delightfully desolate moors, I manage digital projects for an agency and my old site just wasn't responsive enough to my needs. I wanted a fresh, beautiful site that also addressed these two concerns:

  • Photographs presented boldly, simply
  • Words blended with images as photo-essays

And now Tales of a Flâneur unfolds as follows:

  • Blog - where I write about what I'm working on, new viewings, thoughts about photography (e.g., here)
  • Projects - all my various photo essays listed out, straightforward to scan my work
  • Shop - if you fancy buying a print or book

I've splashed large, luscious images throughout the site. It's lovely on a desktop or laptop, but it looks amazing on an iPad. Textures shimmer and the images float delicately atop the page. If you don't already have an iPad, go to the Apple Store and have a look. It's intimate and personal and the ideal way to enjoy the words and photographs on Tales of a Flânuer.

Read: Tales of a Flâneur Newsletter 09 - March 2011

Flâneur Newsletter 08 - February 2012 - Romance and a Free iBook

In 2002, I sold everything I owned, obtained a month's leave from my job in publishing and went on a sojourn through Italy. I returned with a heap of photographs and a journal full of word-pictures. The strong colours and magnificent seascapes in villages of the Cinque Terre, five settlements carved into the hillside along the Ligurian coast, particularly inspired me. I wrote a short story taken from my writing and, a couple of years ago, I returned for a romantic holiday - and to make some pictures.

I've put together a book that brings those words and pictures together and it's called “Where Here & Now Cease To Matter”. It's available exclusively for iPad. There are over 60 sun-drenched photographs from the Cinque Terre in full-screen galleries that look exquisite on iPad. The intimacy of the device make iPad a sensual, tactile way to experience my photography. As you read the story, tap any gallery image to see the series full-screen - it’s stunning. If you enjoy my work, please consider making a small donation. The next issue of my newsletter will appear in your inbox in March, so subscribe now.

Read: Tales of a Flâneur Newsletter 08 - February 2011
Download: Where Here & Now Cease To Matter for iPad

Flâneur Newsletter 07 - January 2012 - Somewhere South

"Charmingly Southern" describes Elloree on one side of a white promotional coffee mug. My mother, Brenda, and her husband, Michael, had moved from their early retirement home in Florida to the outskirts of this well-preserved town in rural South Carolina in the southeast of the United States.Cotton is everywhere in the south. The plant is a waist-high shrub with white plumes of lint at the tips of its branches. Dark seeds remain trapped in the fibres and need to be separated out after harvest. White fluff from excess tufts of cotton clogs the gutters by the side of the road.

View: Somewhere South

For a darker, David Lynch-esque exploration of South Carolina, see my photo essay, Bone Collector. The next issue of my newsletter will publish on 14 February, so subscribe now.

Read: Tales of a Flâneur Newsletter 07 - January 2012

Flâneur Newsletter 06 - December 2011 - Seasonal Business

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew. "Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!" - from "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
Transient

We need more days like this throughout "the long calendar of the year". If my art means anything, if there is one effect I fervently wish to create, it is this: stop, see, question, learn something new, love freely and openly, live in fragments no longer.

Read my latest newsletter for more, including a story of injuries and ice skating at Somerset House from several Christmases ago. The next issue will appear in your inbox on 10 January, so subscribe now.

Read: Tales of a Flâneur Newsletter 06 - December 2011

Flâneur Newsletter 05 - November 2011 - To See, Not Gaze

How long do you spend looking at a painting in a gallery? Do you walk past the pictures and then circle back to a particular work that caught your eye? Or do you go from painting to painting and spend one, two, three minutes and gaze? Why do you examine this work, but not that one? On a visit to the Tate in Pimlico this weekend, I spent several minutes in front of a painting by William Turner and immersed myself in the smear and swirl of colours that recall mornings spent watching the sun seep through fog until it blinds me. I love to I point my camera into the sun and see what we are not necessarily meant to see.

Read my latest newsletter for more musings, including a story about a particularly charming urban fox. The next issue will appear in your inbox on 6 December, so subscribe now.

Read: Tales of a Flâneur Newsletter 05 - November 2011

Transient

Flâneur Newsletter 04 - October 2011 - The Dead Travel Fast

I love graveyards, churchyards and burial grounds. These spaces invite contemplation and remembrance. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that no connection exists between myself and the dead. But there is. Like so many of my beloved places - cathedrals, forests, empty offices with a view of the city - graveyards provoke curiosity about what came before I existed and what, if anything, will remain of me when my body ceases to be. Although some gravestones tell of tragedy and calamitous loss, I marvel at the intensity of the love expressed in so many of the inscriptions. What will be said of us, if anything, when we die? 

View: The Dead Travel Fast

Read my latest newsletter for more, including a remembrance of an old mentor of mine. The next issue will appear in your inbox on 8 November, so subscribe now.

Read: Tales of a Flâneur Newsletter 04 - October 2011

Client Testimonials and New Portraits

I love making portraits because of my endless curiosity about people: who they are, how they live, what they think and feel. Despite being lightly acquainted with most of my clients, I strive to convey a flash of insight into another person’s existence through my images. With insight comes empathy and, I hope, understanding.

I was really humbled by this testimonial from a recent client:

As an actor, I usually find photo shoots daunting. You're not hiding behind a character, you're baring your soul. After my shoot with John, I realised it's not so bad to bare a little of your soul. When I pose for photos I like to be told exactly what to do. John knew exactly what he wanted and this made me feel very secure. From the moment we started the shoot, John made me feel very at ease and relaxed. He really brings out the 'true you' in pictures and he does this by getting to know you while he takes the photos. With his mix of great camera skills and genuine interest in his client, John produced some terrific photos. I thoroughly enjoyed the shoot and will most definitely be using John again for my headshots. - William

If you’re a performer who needs headshots or portfolio images - or indeed if you simply would love a unique portrait of yourself or a loved one - please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Flâneur Newsletter 03 - September 2011 - Love London

In my adult life, London has been my home longest. My flâneur wanderings through the city leave me ecstatically overstimulated by the rush of humanity and the chaos of unfamiliar shops, signage and goods for sale. Even in neighbourhoods I know well, the churn of street commerce and businesses opened and closed and opened regularly affords fresh opportunities for discovery. After each expedition, I retain a palpable visual geography of every place through which I have passed. Contours, colours and whole casts of characters summon up a physical response. When I view a map, place names evoke instantaneous images and complete scenes compile in my head. I remember Sunday music seeping from of a prodigiously tall and long brick church discoloured from a hundred or so years of smog; city girls shorn of their pumps scrunching their toes in the grass of Highbury Fields; tracing the path of the vanished Fleet River in Kentish Town and an abandoned railway line in Highgate; partial rainbows over the Serpentine; roast lunch at Kenwood after hiking through a soaking rain on Hampstead Heath.

The pictures in my shop this month piece together a taxonomy of remembered spaces and a life experienced and, one hopes, fully lived. I love London.

Read my latest newsletter for more, including the conclusion of my Italian romance, "Where Here and Now Cease To Matter". The next issue will appear in your inbox on 4 October, so subscribe now.

Read: Tales of a Flâneur Newsletter 03 - September 2011

Transient