A portrait of the artist: James Mott

Hero image for James Mott's photo essay on portraiture.
James Mott's portraiture often features people who are homeless. He prefers black and white.

Hatch photographer James Mott explains the emotion and purpose behind his photography.

Portraiture is the centre point of photography for me. It allows me to engage with my subject on a personal level and create emotion while expressing my own feelings and personality.

I prefer to shoot in black and white – for many reasons.

portrait 1 in James Mott's portraits photo essay for Hatch@Macleay. All images copyright James Mott

portrait 2 in James Mott's portraits photo essay for Hatch@Maceay. All images copyright James Mott

portrait 3 in James Mott's portraits photo essay for Hatch@Macleay. All images copyright James Mott

First, for the aesthetics of the black-and-white portrait. It has a gritty feel about it that is unmatched by colour: it’s stripped back to the bones, it makes you focus on the subject rather than be distracted by vibrant colours in the frame.

Second, it touches base with my inspiration: the works of photojournalists such as James Nachtwey, Kevin Carter and Henri Cartier-Bresson, all of whom shot predominantly in black and white.

portrait 4 in James Mott's portraits photo essay for Hatch@Macleay. All images copyright James Mott

portrait 5 in James Mott's portraits photo essay for Hatch@Macleay. All images copyright James Mott

portrait 6 in James Mott's portraits photo essay for Hatch@Macleay. All images copyright James Mott

Finally, portraiture is the best tool a photographer or photojournalist possesses to document a person’s journey and story. A single image of a face can tell the viewer a life story, something that a mundane landscape could never do. It can show heartache, pain, joy, sadness and more … and the narrative writes itself.

portrait 7 in James Mott's portraits photo essay for Hatch@Macleay. All images copyright James Mott

portrait 8 in James Mott's portraits photo essay for Hatch@Macleay. All images copyright James Mott

portrait 9 in James Mott's portraits photo essay for Hatch@Macleay. All images copyright James Mott

This is why portraiture is so important to me. It places photography on a human level so we can connect with the meaning and purpose of humanity.

portrait 10 in James Mott's portraits photo essay for Hatch@Macleay. All images copyright James Mott

All photos copyright of James Mott.