HB•R is a platform for creatives to talk directly to both the aspiring youth and their longtime fans, discussing their journey towards success, lessons learned along the way and thoughts on the state of culture in realtime. For episode 57, we sat down with legendary hip-hop photographer Jonathan Mannion.
Jonathan walks in with the aura of the now semi-retired ’90s rap superstar he began his career shooting; an inviting smile and inquisitive eyes tucked under the shadow of a straight-brimmed ball cap, a cozy tech-fleece fit, Off-White™ x AJ1 kicks, and an “entourage” of one, himself. Jonathan has spent the last 25 years photographing just about every major hip-hop album cover and a stockpile of memorable magazine features; he has long been the rap-world’s go-to photographer. And just like those maturing musicians that once stood in front of his camera, Jonathan is searching for new inspirations to bring a new energy to his career. But before he can embark on this newfound journey, he wants to close the door on the first half of his career, and for him, it starts with giving back.
The once mentee of world-renowned fashion photographer Richard Avedon tells us he’s working on his first solo retrospective book, one that inadvertently recounts the last quarter-century of hip-hop culture. Jonathan also finds time these days to lecture young college students, mentor aspiring artists at his new studio in Mana Contemporary, and serve as art director on singular campaigns for brands like adidas. And of course he’s still shooting (Jonathan excitingly pulled out his iPhone to show us some RAW shots from his recent photoshoot for 21 Savage’s upcoming sophomore LP). The 47-year-old even hints at a project he hopes to pursue during this revitalizing phase of his career, and just like Avedon, it’s about capturing the spirit of real people in the real world.
Listen in to the episode above where Jonathan opens up about his family, growing up in Ohio, landing a once-in-a-lifetime apprenticeship under Richard Avedon, shooting rap icons, Instagram photography, licensing your artwork, and so much more.
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