With a career spanning 35 years and many continents, Jon Nicholson’s relentless passion for capturing the real story is the driving force behind his photography. From behind the F1 barriers to documenting global issues, Jon’s view from behind the lens manages to capture a depth of human emotion or level of detail that many of us would fail to see. He has an incredible ability to find beauty in even the harshest of circumstances, creating pictures that communicate respect, empathy and a deep connection to his subjects. There is no pretence, no judgement and no desire to shock, only to provoke thought, share knowledge and evoke passion.
Jon’s relentless pursuit of the picture he wants to take and the story he wants to tell, knows no bounds whatever the exclusivity of access, level of confidentiality, remoteness of geography or degree of danger. Jon was “the man for behind the scenes” in sport which granted him unprecedented access to top sports personalities and teams around the world in Motorsport, Rugby Union, Football and Athletics. His focus was never just on the personalities themselves, but the surrounding stories of the fans, the events and the unseen side to the sport. 1993 brought him into the world of Grand Prix racing, documenting life on and off the track for Damon Hill, Eddie Jordan, and Jackie and Paul Stewart; and teams including Ferrari, Mclaren, Stewart and Williams-Renault, including the weekend of Rubens Barrichello and Ayrton Senna’s fatal crashes at Imola at which the haunting image of Ayrton in this exhibition was taken.
Between 1998 and 2007, Jon joined the UN in Africa, travelling for days at a time to reach areas ravaged by war, genocide, food crisis and HIV/AIDS, enduring rocket attack and gunfire along the way. Images from these stories were exhibited in London, New York and shown across Africa. Features followed in The Sunday Times Magazine, they were used in George Clooney’s ‘Not On Our Watch’ campaign, projected onto Battersea Power Station during London Fashion Week, and continue to be shown at universities around the world.
Jon has been official photographer for the Olympic Games twice: in Barcelona in 1992; and in London in 2012. He spent a year documenting the life of Olympic athlete Linford Christie, and later a behind the scenes look at all aspects of Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona. Five years were devoted to documenting the life of the Cowboy in the West. Another project that took place over four years was in India, where Jon travelled from the source to its mouth, culminating in the BBC book ‘Ganges’. He recently completed a project on hard-working women in Asia, visiting Bhutan, Java and Myanmar.
Alongside pursuing his significant bodies of project work, Jon has travelled the world on assignment for many of the world’s biggest brands including National Geographic, Conde Nast, Wrangler, Levi, Nike, Adidas, Puma, Timberland, Tag Heuer, Ferrari, Hilton Group, Nikon, Olympus and Leica to name a few.
35 years and 16 books later, Jon’s current project is much closer to home in West Sussex, where the Duke of Richmond has invited him to explore, unhindered, all 12,000 acres of the Goodwood Estate.
There are many strings to Jon Nicholson’s bow. He has refused to be constrained by the expectations of his craft. Throughout his career he has been driven by a simple yet uncompromising compulsion and creativity to show people what he can see. He will tell you it’s nothing more than that. But when you understand the lengths he will go to in search of the perfect image or to unearth the story he wants to tell, the thread that holds his work together becomes unmistakably him: compassionate, gracious and uncompromising.
Jon in Sri Lanka using his Hasselblad 503