Behind the photographs of Thomas James

engineering careers  Behind the photographs of Thomas James

Thomas James dramatic photographs captured factories and their workers in an era of rapid transition, depicting the remnants of the industrial revolution alongside emerging technologies.

Thomas James is a UK based industrial photographer and we sat down with him to discuss his work and how the UKs engineering history has informed it.


From “Water” charting the now disused waterways around the West Country

Known for images that are stunningly lit and meticulously composed — his work celebrates the beauty and might of postwar industrial Britain and during his career it won him numerous awards.

How do you describe your style of Photography —

I first started working in colour alongside investigating other approaches to exploring and questioning the world around me.

Work and family commitments have meant that travelling far and wide to make projects became impractical.

I have turned my attention to making work ‘close to home’, exploring with my camera the everyday or the overlooked, in the places and people around me.

I have become very interested in our relationship with the landscape and how it can be bent to our needs and how we have historically sought to control it through farming, industry.

It’s the impact that these interventions on our understanding of landscape and wilderness that interest me. Photographing in the landscape is my way of observing and exploring this relationship.

What impact has Britains Industrial Past had on your work —

Photography has always been a way of exploring the world around me and my first instinct is to get out there and observe.

I try to come to my work without preconceived ideas about the outcome but the British landscape is littered with elements of our industrial past. It’s impossible to ignore

My work initially started to feature found objects but recently I have found it a interesting way to research and drive projects forward.

Advice to new photographers —

Always make the work that you want to make. It’s a cliche but be true and authentic. If you try to fit work to a particular style that seems popular at a given moment when that moment passes so will interest in your work