Versatile is one of the many words to describe young South London photographer, Ron Timehin. As a student at the University of Gloucestershire, Ron studied music and explored the world with classmates as a trumpeter, often forgetting the places he encountered until he began capturing them on his phone. Since uncovering this talent, Ron’s passion for photography has grown tremendously, helping him garner a large following and develop his first solo book, London Fog - a compilation of the moody, atmospheric side of London architecture and street life. His natural ability to tell a story through the lens of a camera has landed him opportunities with major brands and allowed him to share his experience in the field with others, and his distinctive technique.
Before becoming a photographer, you were an accomplished musician. For those that may not know, how did music lead you to this new profession? Exactly when did your love for photography begin?
Yes, strangely, music became my segue into photography! I played the trumpet from seven years old until my late teens, playing with multiple classical and jazz ensembles. I had completed my grade eight at an early age, allowing me to eventually tour and play in some incredible locations. Adamant that I needed to document these places, I found the medium of photography! I had an old point-and-shoot film camera that I used in my early days, but I really fell in love with imagery when I began shooting on my iPhone and editing using mobile apps.
Do you ever delve into other creative outlets, like your music, in your free time? How do you think pouring into those other areas might help strengthen your photography?
Although I no longer play the trumpet, I still have a profound love for music and continually explore new genres daily. I also love films. Films are a great source of inspiration, not only for visual aesthetics but also for locations. I find great pleasure in finding locations that have been used in my favorite films and reinterpreting them. Art, theatre and dance also fascinate me. I think it is important to explore other creative mediums as these can provide great sources of inspiration, especially when you start experiencing a creative block.
How do you or have you ever incorporated your music into your photos and process? I can’t image it being easy to cut off that part of your brain.
Music has and still continues to influence my photography, specifically the more melancholy and evocative sounds I hear. I find that this type of music has a very cinematic appeal and I try to evoke that feeling within my imagery. To me, things like fog and rain are great representatives of those sounds, so I try to incorporate them into my photography.
Does your approach to both outlets differ at all or do you find them similar?
There are definitely similarities and differences in my approach to music and photography. Of course, they are experienced through different senses and so the creative process for each will vary. With music, I feel like I can be transported into different states of mind or even worlds when I am listening, whereas photography makes me very much present in the moment. One thing I have taken from learning to play an instrument is understanding the importance of consistent, targeted practice and turning your weaknesses into strengths. Performing music also gave me the ability to understand nerves and how to use them to my advantage, pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
I’ve noticed on your website that you have a large array of photos - from campaigns and portraits, to landscapes and architecture. Do you ever switch up your approach depending on who and what you are capturing?
I love shooting different subject matters. It keeps photography interesting for me. It also gives me the confidence that no matter what setting I am in, or the task I am faced with, I will be able to make good photos. The fundamentals of photography apply to most genres. Understanding good light, composition, shutter speeds and depth-of-field will allow you to capture most things well. However, the approach to each really does vary.
For example, when I am shooting cityscapes or landscapes, I will plan my location, time of year and time of day, whilst keeping a keen eye on the weather to give myself the best chance of capturing what I envision. I like to take the same approach for campaign work as you have limited time, deadlines to meet, and you often work with multiple people, so preparation is crucial. For street photography, I take aspects of that preparation, although there is a randomness to it that you can’t prepare for and if you try to preempt it too much, you will miss out on a whole world of photographs.
Over the years you’ve partnered with well known brands and gathered a large following. What part do you enjoy most in being a consultant and teacher to others?
I have been fortunate to have worked with some incredible brands over the years, including Vogue, Sony and Adobe. I am always extremely grateful and pumped when a brand trusts in my ability and pays me for my time. I can now fund myself with something that started out as a passion, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I enjoy passing on information and my experiences in this industry to other aspiring photographers. It brings me great pleasure when I see that knowledge being used by others and they begin seeing results. I also learn a heck of a lot from others when running classes and workshops. I can incorporate new ways of doing and seeing things into my workflow.
In 2020, you attended a protest in London and captured some stills of all of the people marching against racism. With all that is happening in the world and has happened since, have you had time to join any other protests or even work on projects that push for significant change? Do you find capturing these historical events important to you and your legacy?
2020 was an incredibly tough year for many, including myself. The murder of George Floyd and the resulting outcry from people all over the world for change taught me a lot. The protests forced me to face feelings I had suppressed my entire life and be both brave and vulnerable enough to speak out on them. The images from those protest days in London will forever be some of my favourites. The diversity in the protestors I saw was astounding! 10,000 people of all races and ages screaming for the same cause through the streets of London was a sight to behold. At the protest, I bumped into one of my friends who is a talented DoP, and we decided that we didn’t want this moment to be fleeting and that we wanted to keep the conversations around race continuing. We thought the best way to do this was to make a documentary on what it means to be Black and British, aptly named Fortitude.
Over the course of the year, we pulled together a film crew and interviewed Black British talent from different walks of life and professions. We wanted the talent to be unapologetic in what they had to say, speaking on their experiences with racism and what needed to change. The resulting conversations were incredibly harrowing but also served as a sort of therapeutic experience for all involved. Something to note was that everyone involved did so for free, with all proceeds going to The Black Curriculum Charity, which aims to educate people and change policies around race teaching in the British schooling curriculum. The premiere in 2021 was held at the Museum of London and is now available to watch for free on Waterbear.com. More info can be found at www.fortitudefilm.co.uk.
If people were to blindly look at a piece that belonged to you, what do you think they would say is your signature?
I would have to say that my visual signature is evocative, authentic and beautiful.
Are you currently working on another book or collection?
I find that photography is often consumed within a few seconds and one image at a time, which is a real shame. A great pleasure and deeper understanding comes from consuming imagery in a collection and in the physical form. After making London Fog with Trope, it has given me the drive to create more work like this and share it in a physical form. I am working on a series of zines, comprising wider bodies of work I have photographed over the years. I look forward to sharing more on this soon!
In addition to his standalone book, London Fog, Ron’s photography is featured in Trope London. Both are available for purchase.