Is not seeing the forest for the trees such a bad thing? According to Tyrone Williams’ work, maybe not. Taking the phrase “detail orientated” and turning its intended meaning on its head, the Northampton-residing photographer zooms in on unexpected textures – be that discarded paper, plastic stretched over wire or smashed glass – commonly spotted throughout the city to create moments of disconnect and quiet contemplation amid hyper-connected chaos.
Describing the process behind his idiosyncratic style as, quite simply, “exploring bold details about the overlooked”, the 28-year-old has been honing his skills for the past decade. “I first got involved in photography in my teens, using disposable cameras to take photos of me and my cousins rollerblading,” he says. “I moved onto capturing moments in my life that were very close to me, using the camera like a visual diary.” Organically developing an interest in the medium, the emotional pull of his early photographic experiments would soon transform into an aesthetic experiment whereby Williams would distort familiar scenes and objects through hyper-focus. “I then went on to deconstruct my surroundings, trying to get a more surreal approach to our reality,” he succinctly explains of the next stage in his creative journey.
“I deconstruct my surroundings, trying to get a more surreal approach to our reality.”
This abstract slant on photography forms the basis of his identity as an artist, with Williams using his lens to find beauty in what is commonly ignored or missed and forcing viewers to look at the wider picture of what’s around them with a renewed purpose. Now reaching new audiences thanks to his appearance on the BBC’s Great British Photography Challenge, judged by Rankin, Williams obviously struck viewers with his crystal-clear artistic vision, which seemed expertly formed from the get-go.
As it turns out, his mentor was equally struck. Rankin has admitted that he was drawn to Williams’ photography style from the very beginning of the show – “Right from the first time I saw his images, I loved Tyrone’s work,” he says. “He entered the competition with such a clear aesthetic already defined. I knew he was a talent and I knew he would go far in the art world.”
The feeling is mutual, with Williams being outspoken about the impact Rankin’s mentorship has had on his artistic process and growth. “Rankin is such a great character,” Williams says. “Over the course of the show he really helped push me into understanding my own approach. I have a lot of respect for him.” As well as hitting it off with the series’ host, Williams enjoyed the opportunity it presented to get to know his fellow contestants, whose creative thirst and knowledge of other photography specialisms have enriched his own practice. “It was such a fun learning experience meeting different passionate creative artists from different areas of photography,” he says.
While the experience was all in good fun, it was also a serious achievement – Williams walked away from the show as one of its co-winners, alongside nature photographer Jackson Moyles. Williams currently works full-time as a graphic designer but let’s hope he keeps sharing his beautiful photographic fragments with us so that we can start to piece together a better world.
This story is taken from our Taking Back Control issue. Order your copy here.