Portfolio: James O Jenkins


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The Independent Culture

What do a pearly queen at the Harvest Festival and an Eton boy covered in mud from the school's Wall Game have in common? The answer, for James O Jenkins, is Britain's gloriously idiosyncratic customs.

"I didn't want to shoot [these annual customs] as reportage, though," says the photographer. "I wanted to focus on the people, their faces and what they were wearing, so I took them away from their performances to shoot portraits."

His subjects range from men in vests who take part in Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling to the Queen's swan marker, whose task at the "Swan Upping" is to count the mute swans on the Thames. As Jenkins says, "They're from different backgrounds, but share a sense of communal celebration."

But what motivated him to seek these people? "I see Britain photographed by my peers and it's mostly really negative. I know there are socio-economic problems out there, but these celebratory aspects of British life are overlooked – and I found them invigorating."

'United Kingdom' is available to buy at jamesojenkins.co.uk, priced £28