BCU alumnus opens debut photography exhibition


A BCU alumnus has opened their debut photography exhibition at a historic recording studio in Birmingham.

Jonathan Williams, who graduated from BCU with a BA (Hons) in Media and Communication in 2019, is now working as a freelance photographer, videographer and TikTok content creator thanks to the strong relationships he has formed within the entertainment industry.

The Birmingham-based photographer will showcase the iconic images he’s captured of artists performing in front of huge audiences alongside intimate behind-the-scenes moments in his debut exhibition at Grosvenor Road Studios.

Grosvenor Road Studios, formerly the renowned Hollick & Taylor Studios, is a suite of recording studios in Handsworth, Birmingham. It is the oldest existing recording studio in the city and has been operating as one since the late 1940s.

When asked what it’s like to have the opportunity to showcase his work here, Jonathan said: “It's surreal. I never thought I'd have the opportunity to exhibit my photos. Many of the photos were taken during the early stages of my creative journey, when the idea of having an exhibition was so far-fetched.

“I'm immensely grateful to the team at Grosvenor Road Studios for giving me a space to showcase my work. I couldn't think of a more perfect time to curate this exhibition.

“Grosvenor Road Studios are the home of Black Voices, who I’ve had the pleasure of photographing on a number of occasions. When the studios re-opened in September last year after a refurbishment, I was invited along to photograph the celebration. So, in some ways it feels like a natural progression.

“One of the studios’ Board Directors, Richard Loftus, is a close friend, and he pitched the idea of me curating this six-month exhibition. Carol Pemberton MBE, Managing Director of Grosvenor Road Studios, and Shereece Storrod, the studios’ building operations manager, loved the concept and my work.”

Since graduating, Jonathan has photographed major award ceremonies like the MOBO Awards, as well as capturing music icons at festivals such as Wireless, Parklife, All Points East and Reading and Leeds.

Included in his debut exhibition are 30 photos that he’s captured over the past five years, including Cardi B at Wireless Festival 2022, Stormzy at Reading and Leeds in 2021 and the Black Voices Choir performing at Community Spirit in 2022.

Jonathan said: “The past five years as a freelance photographer have been extraordinary. It's been a rollercoaster journey filled with so many achievements, challenges, and memorable moments, resulting in an extensive catalogue of photos I'm finally ready to exhibit.

“I genuinely can’t believe I’m saying this, but you can see my work at the iconic Grosvenor Road studios for six months! Whether its intimate, discreet shots captured backstage at festivals or staged portraits at award ceremonies, these photos capture a significant moment in time.”

Photo credit: Jonathan Williams

When asked how he selected the images, Jonathan said, “We've chosen a mixture of backstage photos and stage shots from the very start of my career to the present day, which showcases my growth as a photographer. It's been difficult, considering how many photos I've taken, but I'm happy with the selection. Every photo has a backstory that people will find intriguing.”

Amongst the names included are legendary Birmingham artists such as Mist, Mowgli, Lady Leshur and fellow alumna, Laura Mvula, who graduated from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2008.

Jonathan felt it was important to recognise Birmingham in his exhibition. He said: “I've made a conscious effort to represent Birmingham in this exhibition. It's a combination of international and homegrown talent all in one space.”

Jonathan hopes those who visit the exhibition will be inspired by his journey.

Jonathan said: “I want to inspire the next generation of Birmingham creatives who are looking for inspiration. I would like them to see my work, see how far I've come since graduating and know they can achieve the same level of success.”

The exhibition is open from Friday 24 May through to October.

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