Positive memories are often associated with a piece of music or the freedom of dance. I try to capture that energy, that moment when nothing else matters except the here and now and preserve it for posterity.
––James Sparshatt, Photographer
British photographer James Sparshatt memorializes the movement of Latin music and dance in his black and white photos. His images are captured in the streets of Cuba, the milonga tango halls in Buenos Aires, the jazz bars of New Orleans and the flamenco festivals of Spain. His love of photography developed while he was working as a photojournalist in Latin America in the 1990s. He became so enamored with the vibrant musical heritage he witnessed that it ultimately became his primary photographic subject.
As a child, Sparshatt spent a lot of time in his grandfather’s dark room, captivated by the magic of the black and white photographic process. Despite this natural attraction, he ended up going to school for engineering and started off his adult life as a management consultant. His creative excitement resurged when he took a sabbatical to learn Spanish in South America. He cancelled his return flight and took a job as a photographer for the Bolivian Times newspaper. Seven years later, he returned to the UK to complete a photography course at the London College of Printing. Sparshatt has been selling and exhibiting work internationally ever since. His shooting technique is anthropological, involving becoming acquainted with a place and capturing that place as an interloper. Sparshatt seeks a landscape he finds evocative, and then sits and waits––until the perfect dynamic moment unfolds. His photographic influences include Eve Arnold, Elliott Erwitt, and Sebastiao Salgado, all of whom use the black and white medium to strip away the distractions of color, directing the viewer’s focus towards passionate gestures and movements.
Sparshatt’s Land of the Incas exhibition at the Royal National Theatre was described as “a dazzling collection of black and white images...” in the Sunday Telegraph. His work has been a winner of the International Exhibition at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado, been shortlisted for the Sony World Photographic Awards and been a finalist in the World Photography Gala awards. Sparshatt’s photographs have also been shown at Pulse Miami, Art Hamptons, Art Chicago, Art Market (San Francisco), Slick (Paris) and Affordable Art Fairs in New York, London, Los Angeles, Singapore, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Hamburg. His images have been used in advertising campaigns and featured in magazines such as Dazed and Confused, Tatler, Red, Wanderlust as well as all of the UK’s major broadsheets.