John Swainston

John Swainston was born in London and migrated to Australia in 1979. His career started with Bell & Howell, then the world’s largest manufacturers of 8mm & 16mm motion picture equipment, and took him from London, to become Vice President of product management in the company’s audio-visual division. He was co-founder and managing director of Nikon distributor, Maxwell Optical Industries for 24 years, prior to Nikon Australia being established in 2006. From then until 2015 he was Senior Vice President, Distributor Markets for Lowepro and JOBY, now Vitec Group brands. He was responsible for international distributor markets in Asia, Japan & subsequently Europe. 

John is an advisory board member of the HeadOn Foundation, producer of the HeadOn Photo Festival held in Sydney each year during May. He sponsored and presented the Nikon Australian Press Photographer of The Year Awards for 19 years and published Light Reading magazine for 15 years. John is currently involved in a 2-year self-commissioned project “I will lift mine eyes”, documenting the 46 Anglican Cathedrals in England & Wales.

He is a Board member and Treasurer of the AIPP, and since 2005, an Honorary Fellow. He is a Past President of IDEA, the Australian industry group.

In his presentation at Lenscape, he will explore the economic and planning aspects of his project, the marketing considerations as the project grew and provide his perspective on making major personal projects a cornerstone of refreshing one’s passion for photography. He’ll look back and indicate where with greater forethought he could have gained greater funding assistance. He’ll also show some of the work and how he attempts to differentiate his style through unique expressive perspectives. He is scheduled to complete the photography aspect of the project in April, returning to Australia just one week prior to Lenscape!

John has been a speaker over four decades at imaging conferences in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada.

An exhibition and book are expected in mid-2019.

I will lift mine eyes - A personal project by John Swainston

“My hope is that it will remind all photographers that pushing oneself well beyond personal comfort levels, helps grow one’s skills and perceptions as a photographer, improving one’s other work as result of the experience.”

A major project to photograph the 46 Anglican Cathedrals in England & Wales

Growing up in England, John Swainston was a choirboy from the age of eight until his late teens. He sang in many of England’s Cathedrals, churches and chapels. In recent years his photography has concentrated on architectural form, documenting many of the great churches in London and Europe, and Elizabeth Bay House in Sydney, built by his ancestor, Alexander Macleay. In 2016 he embarked on a project to photograph the interiors of all 46 English and Welsh Anglican Cathedrals for exhibit in Australia and the UK. His focus is on the vaulted ceilings and tower interiors, often neglected in conventional photographic coverage. In 4 UK visits over a three-year period, concluding in April 2018, John will have travelled 135,000 km. by air and 4,500km by road, in a series of shoots lasting 44 days. 

This has been a huge personal project costing tens of thousands of dollars. In this talk, John will describe the logistics, planning and commercial options considered. He’ll describe gallery and publisher discussions, as well as show some of the work. The project, which is planned to complete just 10 days prior to Lenscape, has been shot on Nikon cameras, including the award-winning D810 and D850. He’ll also be describing the technical challenges of recording images in 1,200-year-old buildings, establishing permissions, access and lighting challenges, as well as insurance issues and the special challenges of organising such a project from 17,000 km away. 

“Sometimes in life, there are projects of passion that call one to make them happen. It’s been a huge privilege, and one that I hope does justice to these Cathedrals, as I present abstractions of these extraordinary structures and places of great faith over many centuries."