Jonathan Banks: A Photographer with a Purpose
Jonathan Banks, an award-winning British photographer with over twenty-five years’ experience in humanitarian, editorial, and commercial photography, has dedicated his career to capturing moments that narrate stories beyond what meets the eye. Beyond the aesthetic allure, his work strives to make a tangible difference, illuminating humanitarian crises and amplifying the voices of those often marginalized.
Jonathan Banks Photography
From a Solo Exhibition to a Powerful Art Campaign
In 2014, Banks collaborated with DelAgua, an organization championing the distribution of water filters and fuel-efficient stoves throughout Rwanda. During this endeavor, he crossed paths with Leonce Byimana, a public health advisor to DelAgua. Their professional interaction transformed into a deeper bond, with Byimana later helming TASSC International (Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition). Over time, the duo envisioned a collaborative project aimed at heightening awareness around torture using the medium of photography.
Birthed from these deliberations was the art campaign, 'Portraits of Resilience'. The initiative showcased survivors of torture globally, intertwining their personal narratives with photographs. Each survivor chose an image that resonated with their experience, which was then projected onto them during the portrait session. These projected images—sometimes obfuscating their identities at their behest—echoed the familiar terrains they left behind, juxtaposing the uncertainties and challenges they confronted as immigrants. Banks's intent was to move beyond stereotypes, encouraging viewers to perceive the survivors in their entire human dimension.
Creating Art with Purpose
Jonathan Banks’ photography stands out, not just for its visual appeal, but for its compelling purpose. To him, a photograph should encapsulate the essence of its subject, going beyond the superficial. His 'Portraits of Resilience' epitomizes this philosophy, presenting torture survivors in a manner that emphasizes their indomitable spirit, all while preserving their dignity.
Following his academic pursuit at the University of Derby, where he was mentored by the renowned artist John Blakemore, earning a BA in Photographic Studies, Banks embarked on his professional journey. His initial foray into editorial photography included collaborations with The Telegraph newspaper and magazine, along with various agencies. Banks's global engagements often led him to areas fraught with security challenges. Yet, his adept communication skills and empathy enabled him to depict subjects in the most adversarial settings.
His clientele comprises blue-chip tech companies, pharmaceutical enterprises, energy conglomerates, and architectural firms. This eclectic mix offers him the flexibility to volunteer for nonprofits, crafting images that spur awareness around critical humanitarian concerns. Banks's endeavors aren't limited to capturing transient moments. He's driven by a mission—to make a difference. His commitment to humanitarian causes, combined with his unparalleled skill, makes his body of work truly distinctive.
Globally recognized, Banks's works have adorned various platforms. From the EU Parliament, The Royal Geographic Society, to the screens of Times Square in New York, his artistry has left an indelible mark. Notably, his "Portraits of Resistance" found a platform at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC in 2022. Deeming it an "art campaign", Banks envisions it as a long-term project. Currently encompassing stories from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, he aspires to amplify this series, inviting organizations that work with survivors to join this transformative journey.
Future Plans and Goals
Jonathan's enthusiasm for photography's future is palpable. He constantly challenges himself, seeking to redefine the boundaries of his craft. With plans to showcase his series at the United Nations in Geneva, he aims to continually expand his project's footprint—through galleries, publications, and potentially, a globally-distributed book.
Jonathan Banks is more than just a photographer. He's an artist with a profound purpose. Beyond the visual allure, his work catalyzes awareness, initiates conversations, and seeks to create a lasting impact. With a unique approach and an unwavering commitment to humanitarian causes, Banks's contributions to the world of photography are truly unparalleled, consistently inspiring and challenging prevailing perceptions.