Jack Stocker - 'Members Only'

As part of our current Photobook Spotlight we interviewed Graphic Design graduate Jack Stocker about his route into photography and photobook, Members Only.


You studied Graphic Design at university but projects that you ended your final year on were photography based. Can you tell us how and why you turned to photography to express your ideas? I’d always been into photography and used it as a way to document holidays and events, like most people, but in terms of using it when studying graphic design, I always felt like it was something separate. I felt that if the majority of a project was photography then it wouldn’t be classed as graphic design. Towards the end of my second year and start of third year, my tutors helped me realise that I can use my photography in my design and it still be a graphic designer. One of our projects in third year was to document a subject for 2/3 weeks and I chose to photograph a local remote control racing car club, from which I created an interesting photo essay which I later made into a book.

What attracted you to the working mens clubs in Middlesborough? Why did you decide to make this series of work? When we started planning what our final major project would be, I wrote a list of previous projects I did and enjoyed. I noticed a theme between 2 or 3 of them and that was that they were all based on the working class. I started thinking and realised that Working Men’s Clubs could be a great opportunity to document using my photography. I hadn’t ever been in a WMC but i knew what they were and I knew what they looked like and from what I already knew, I loved their aesthetic and the reasoning behind them. The further research I did, the more I wanted to do it for myself, but also for the clubs.

 From the series  Members Only

From the series Members Only

What encouraged you to create a photobook to complete this series? I’ve always enjoyed buying photography books, or any visual book for that matter, and with the equipment and resources at the University of Brighton it was a great opportunity to create a nice, well thought out photobook that helped reflect what I learnt when being at the WMC’s as well as the clubs era and feel. Also, the design of the book and how the book looked was how my graphic design skills played it’s part in the project.

How did you go about making your photobook? Have you got any tips or advice? I had the spreads printed locally and then hand stitched 2 copies. Both are identical and they have hard bound covers with gold foiled titles as well as an additional wrap around cover.

These weren’t the first books I’d made. I’d made quite a few before them and a few black and white copies of this version as there's lots of room for mistake, so I’d say practicing and planning is definitely needed before the final version. 

 From the series  Members Only

From the series Members Only

Are there any stand out photographers who influence your work? Todd Hido, Joel Meyerowitz, Martin Parr, Andre Wagner, Bruce Gilden, JH Engstrom, Joshua Gordon, plus many more.

What equipment did you use to make this work? Do you think your choices reflect your way of working? I used two 35mm cameras, the Contax G1 and Contax T2 which definitely led to more planning and thought when taking the shots. As you’re paying out for film, it makes you appreciate every photo you take a little bit more, unless you’ve got a bottomless pit of film or money. I recently bought a compact digital camera as I’m hoping it will let me have a bit more freedom when shooting and traveling instead of worrying if the photo is worth a space on a roll of film.

 From the series  Members Only

From the series Members Only

What are your future plans? I currently work as an In-House Graphic Designer while practicing my photography outside of work as a hobby and with any freelance opportunities that come up. I hope to continue developing as Graphic Designer and keep my photography involved throughout.