I was recently interviewed by a Spanish newspaper "The View", although this may be long winded, this is the about page, this is me and my story.
I was born in Guernsey in the Channel Islands in 1986 and christened John-Ross Hainey. With a name like John-Ross you would expect me to be a Texan. However the truth is not quite so exotic; it was the result of my mother being addicted to the popular US television series of the time, Dallas! The name John Ross came from the initials J.R., and for those old enough to remember TV in the 1980’s, the name J.R. will no doubt be familiar from the American prime time television soap opera that ran for over ten years and revolved around a wealthy and feuding Texan oil family. J.R.Ewing grew to be the show’s main character, whose schemes and dirty business became the show’s trademark – something I’m regularly reminded of when I introduce and refer to myself as J.R.!
Q. What is your connection to Spain and the Costa Blanca in particular?
A. I moved to Torrevieja at the age of two and grew up attending Spanish schools. With only a handful of English people to talk to I quite quickly learned to speak Spanish and in a very short time it became my first language; except at home where we spoke ‘Spanglish’. The mid 90’s were the start of the property boom with low interest rates and almost immeasurable amounts of foreign investment. As the immigration grew and Spain became a desirable place to live, schools changed from traditional Spanish schools into International schools, with pupils from almost every nation in attendance. Property development was such that through my primary years I moved school no less than four times, as each school in turn was acquired and closed down and redeveloped into something more grand and of course profitable. At the age of 13 I was to leave school and start work; employment was plentiful, as long as you didn’t mind working on a building site or in one of the many bars and restaurants. I soon recognised my employment and lifestyle would both be difficult, if not impossible to advance in, and began to explore any option that was open to me.
Q. Why are you now living and working in Guernsey?
A. On my 19th birthday I made the decision to move from Spain to England. It was a bold transition as I had not been to England before; in fact I couldn’t even read or write English! My skills were severely limited and I’d never even turned on a computer – however I knew that if I didn’t make the move I would be in the same situation for the rest of my life. The first three months were spent in Plymouth on the south coast where I struggled to find good employment. Almost in desperation I decided to return to my place of birth, the little island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Unfortunately even though I was born in Guernsey, birth rights are not granted until you have spent a certain number of years living there. I won’t document the legal detail, but suffice to say that 10 years on and I am just attaining my ‘Guernseyman’ status and by the end of 2015 I will finally have ‘local status’.
Q. How did you get into photography and who, if anyone, was your inspiration to get into the career?
A. I picked up my first camera just over five years ago, shortly before my son “Koen” was born. The objective then was to gain the confidence and skill to properly record him growing up; however I was soon taking pictures of everything and anything – and surprisingly some of them were quite good! I quickly developed a real passion for photography and worked hard to learn how to use the camera and lenses effectively.
Five years on and the rest as they say is history!
Guernsey was, and still is, an inspiration for my photography; four well-defined seasons, beautiful landscapes, beaches and a sea that changes moods daily – it all really helps to drive me to take good pictures. That said, the true drive and inspiration came from my son and what started as a pastime has now become a successful business – a business that has been awarded the title of ‘Most Loved Photographer in the British Isles’ for two years running through the national Best of awards and voted for by my clients. JR Photography has over 200 regular clients in the Channel Islands and we are the official photographer for the beautiful Island of Herm. JR Photography plan to open a new studio this year which is supported by a consistent stream of new and repeat business. It’s hard to believe that it all started with the simple desire to photograph my son…something I still do with a passion. Koen does not realise it yet but he played, and still plays a pivotal role in what will one day, I hope, become his business – so I can retire to the sunny Costa Blanca!
Q. What is the best photograph you think you’ve ever taken and why?
A. As with most photographers who strive for that perfect shot, I am my own worst critic. However one of my favourites and one of the most popular images here in Guernsey has to be “Lightning striking Fort Grey” (a granite fortress on a small islet, locally known as the Cup and Saucer). It was a quick decision to head out and chase a storm that ended up being some of the most intense and scary hours of my life. I was in the middle of a huge storm in the middle of the night with a camera on a large metal tripod just waiting for the right moment, which was as exhilarating as it was dangerous as lightning was striking all around me. At the end of it all I ‘got the shot’ and came away with some incredible images. Perseverance certainly pays.
Q. Is there a place in the world you’d like to visit to take a particular photograph and why?
A. As a landscape photographer I am slightly restricted on such a small island as there are few original images left to take. In saying that Guernsey has a huge tidal range – up to 10 metres, and a low spring tide actually doubles the size of the Island! As you may imagine these tides have the ability to transform landscapes in hours and this can help dramatically. However a small island like this certainly does test your creativity to the limit. In answer to the question; there isn’t really one specific place, although Iceland and Spain would certainly be high on any list. Spain in particular, because I grew up there, I know the people and the language it would be a missed opportunity not to record its diversity and splendour through my lenses.