Jason Wilde’s Free Portrait Studio is a non-commercial mobile studio that follows in the footsteps of the early itinerant photographers. Visiting a variety of venues throughout the country Jason Wilde’s Free Portrait Studio invites visitors and passers by to temporarily discontinue their daily routines to take part in a short informal photography process. Staged against a neutral background these documentary portraits show the people I have met posing consciously and comfortable in their self-presentation.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Moving Home

I am no longer posting to this site. For a number of reasons Im moving blog platforms. The new home is here

I am in the process of transferring the posts and reorganising the blog which will take  a while. Thank you for your patience.

Thank you.

Thursday, 27 March 2014


Meet My Lovely Assistant Steve Roper.

Steve has assisted on 41 of the 43 mobile studio events. At each event he has handled the public in a very professional and respectful way. And with lots of love in his heart.

He’s always the first one up with the grey card for a white balance reading. The idea is
for me to try to make him laugh, which happens about 50% of the time.

He also has the knobbliest knees in Camden Town!!

See the other 40 images of steve here.

© Jason Wilde 2014. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 22 March 2014


New Guest Picture Edit by Jason Wilde

Portrait Construct no13.

More Portrait Tableaux here

Thomas & Sebastian. Camden, London, 2014
© Jason Wilde. All rights reserved.

Monday, 10 March 2014


New Guest Picture Edit by Jason Wilde

Portrait Construct no12.

More Portrait Tableaux here

Untitled, Camden, London, 2014.
© Jason Wilde 2014. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 6 March 2014


New Guest Picture Edit by Jason Wilde

Portrait Construct no11.

More Portrait Tableaux here

Untitled, Camden, London, 2014.
© Jason Wilde. All rights reserved.

Monday, 24 February 2014


Why We Do What We Do?

The text below was written by  Paul Graham for the Yale MFA photography graduation book – Yale MFA Photography 2009: We Belong Together

It’s so easy it’s ridiculous. It’s so easy that I can’t even begin – I just don’t know where to start. After all, it’s just looking at things. We all do that. It’s simply a way of recording what you see – point the camera at it, and press a button. How hard is that? And what’s more, in this digital age, its free – doesn’t even cost you the price of film. It’s so simple and basic, it’s ridiculous.

© Jason Wilde 2014. All rights reserved

It’s so difficult because it’s everywhere, every place, all the time, even right now. It’s the view of this pen in my hand as I write this, it’s an image of your hands holding this book, Drift your consciousness up and out of this text and see: it’s right there, across the room – there… and there. Then it’s gone. You didn’t photograph it, because you didn’t think it was worth it. And now it’s too late, that moment has evaporated. But another one has arrived, instantly. Now. Because life is flowing through and around us, rushing onwards and onwards, in every direction.

But if it’s everywhere and all the time, and so easy to make, then what’s of value? which pictures matter? Is it the hard won photograph, knowing, controlled, previsualised? Yes. Or are those contrived, dry and belabored? Sometimes. Is it the offhand snapshot made on a whim. For sure. Or is that just a lucky observation, some random moment caught by chance? Maybe. Is it an intuitive expression of liquid intelligence? Exactly. Or the distillation of years of looking seeing thinking photography. Definitely.

© Jason Wilde 2014. All rights reserved

 “life’s single lesson: that there is more accident to it than a man can admit to in a lifetime, and stay sane”

Thomas Pynchon, V

Ok, so how do I make sense of that never ending flow, the fog that covers life here and now. How do I see through that, how do I cross that boundary? Do I walk down the street and make pictures of strangers, do I make a drama-tableaux with my friends, do I only photograph my beloved, my family, myself? Or maybe I should just photograph the land, the rocks and trees – they don’t move or complain or push back. The old houses? The new houses? Do I go to a war zone on the other side of the world, or just to the corner store, or not leave my room at all?

Yes and yes and yes. That’s the choice you are spoiled for, but just don’t let it stop you. Be aware of it, but don’t get stuck – relax, it’s everything and everywhere. You will find it, and it will find you, just start, somehow, anyhow, but: start.
Yes, but shouldn’t I have a clear coherent theme, surely I have to know what I’m doing first? That would be nice, but I doubt Robert Frank knew what it all meant when he started, or for that matter Cindy Sherman or Robert Mapplethorpe or Atget or… so you shouldn’t expect it. The more preplanned it is the less room for surprise, for the world to talk back, for the idea to find itself, allowing ambivalence and ambiguity to seep in, and sometimes those are more important than certainty and clarity. The work often says more than the artist knows.

© Jason Wilde 2014. All rights reserved

Ok, but my photography doesn’t always fit into neat, coherent projects, so maybe I need to roll freeform around this world, unfettered, able to photograph whatever and whenever: the sky, my feet, the coffee in my cup, the flowers I just noticed, my friends and lovers, and, because it’s all my life, surely it will make sense? Perhaps. Sometimes that works, sometimes it’s indulgent, but really it’s your choice, because you are also free to not make ‘sense’.

“so finally even this story is absurd, which is an important part of the point, if any, since that it should have none whatsoever seems part of the point too”

Malcolm Lowry, Ghostkeeper.

Ok, so I do need time to think about this. To allow myself that freedom for a short time. A couple of years. Maybe I won’t find my answer, but I will be around others who understand this question, who have reached a similar point. Maybe I’ll start on the wrong road, or for the wrong reasons – because I liked cameras, because I thought photography was an easy option, but if I’m forced to try, then perhaps I’ll stumble on some little thing, that makes a piece of sense to me, or simply just feels right. If I concentrate on that, then maybe it grows, and in its modest, ineffable way, begins to matter. Like photographing Arab-Americans in the USA as human beings with lives and hopes and families and feelings, straight, gay, young, old, with all the humanity that Hollywood never grants them. Or the black community of New Haven, doing inexplicable joyous, ridiculous theatrical-charades that explode my preconceptions into a thousand pieces. Or funny-disturbing-sad echoes of a snapshot of my old boyfriend. Or the anonymous suburban landscape of upstate in a way that defies the spectacular images we’re addicted to. Or… how women use our bodies to display who we believe we should be, Or…

© Jason Wilde 2014. All rights reserved

“A Novel? No, I don’t have the endurance any more. To write a novel, you have to be like Atlas, holding up the whole world on your shoulders, and supporting it there for months and years, while its affairs
 work themselves out…”

J. M. Coetzee, Diary of a Bad Year.

And hopefully I will carry on, and develop it, because it is worthwhile. carry on because it matters when other things don’t seem to matter so much: the money job, the editorial assignment, the fashion shoot. Then one day it will be complete enough to believe it is finished. Made. Existing. Done. And in its own way: a contribution, and all that effort and frustration and time and money will fall away. It was worth it, because it is something real, that didn’t exist before you made it exist: a sentient work of art and power and sensitivity, that speaks of this world and your fellow human beings place within it. Isn’t that beautiful?

© Jason Wilde 2014. All rights reserved

Sunday, 23 February 2014


Portrait Count
So far this year the St Pancras Hospital, the Hawley Arms and the National Portrait Gallery have played host to Jason Wilde's Free Portrait Studio. 167 portraits were made at those venues of 3 very different groups of people. Residents of Camden made up the bulk of the people supporting an exhibition by local artists at St Pancras Hospital while the people photographed at the Hawley Arms were mostly out-of-town or overseas visitors looking to soak up some of that fabled Camden cool. The National Portrait Gallery held a Portrait Gala and invited a number of very wealthy people (including royalty), some of whom were charmed into parting with their cash to raise money for gallery acquisitions. The images from those events can be seen at the following links.

The portrait count now proudly stands at 1680.

Public engagement
Public engagement is at the core of this project and in order to encourage people to engage with the portraits I am developing a number of online elements that look beyond my own limiting project edits and the restrictions of a printed book or exhibition. It's early days but so far I've come up with a Guest Picture Editor competition and 3 website sections named Collections, Mistakes & Out-takes and Portraits At Home.

Guest Picture Editor competition
The Guest Picture Editor competition invites people to create their own mini picture edits of between 2 and 10 portraits from Jason Wilde's Free Portrait Studio's online archive. It's free to enter and the winner receives a exclusive print from the archive while all submitted edits will be featured in a mini online exhibition. More info about the current competition can be found on the information blog here while all previous submitted guest picture edits can be found on the online image archive here.

The Collections section is a way to look beyond my idea of what portraits to include in a final edit and to playfully group images according to any number of unifying elements. So far these elements have included Pets, Beards, Flowers and Topless etc. I would love it if people became involved and suggested by email their own ideas for a collection. A collection can be up to 300 images and all suggested collections will be displayed on the online image archive along with the name of the person that realised that collection. All previous Collections can be found on the online image archive here.

Mistakes and Out-Takes
Over the last four years there have been 43 Free Portrait Studio mobile events in a variety of venues. Wherever the mobile studio is set up the main aim is to photograph as many participants as possible in the allotted time and, although the goal is to make ‘serious’ documentary portraits, there’s always room for people to make mischief and have a little fun. The Mistakes and Out-Takes section has been set up specifically to exhibit these more lighthearted aspects of the project. The Mistakes and Out-Takes section can be seen here.
Portraits At Home: Attention all previous participants
Portraits at Home is a mini project that simply asks participants who have received a print to send me a photo of that print. The idea is to create a online photo gallery of participants Free Portrait Studio portraits at home. An extensive Portrait At Home section will also greatly strengthen any future Arts Council funding application for the project.

Have any of you kept your portrait from the project? Is it (un)framed and hanging on a wall or placed on a shelf? Wherever it is can you please email a photo of your portrait on display? A simple camera phone snapshot will suffice. I've dedicated a section on my blog called Portraits At Home and so far 14 people have sent an image of their portrait at home, which can be seen here.

As part of the editing process I have begun to create a single image from two separate portraits. At its most basic level this project is a simple description and record of some of the people that were in Camden between 2010 and 2013. The ongoing nature of the project combined with the amount and variety of portraits already made means that I have many possibilities when it comes to editing the work. Creative editing means the portraits can constantly be reconfigured, with different images played against different images, to expand the meanings of the portraits. In this section I have combined individual portraits from the project into single images that play with these ‘pictorial narratives’. At the moment the images in this section are ‘playful experiments’ to see how/if the images work together.

Jason Wilde's Free Portrait Studio online
For those of you that are new to the project, Jason Wilde's Free Portrait Studio is supported by a blog and an online image archive. The blog is an information hub and features regularly updated project related information and posts about the project while the online image archive exhibits a portrait of each person that has taken part in the project.

Social Media
My Facebook and Twitter pages exist to be followed and befriended.