We had the good fortune of connecting with James Mahon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James, what makes you happy? Why?
I am at my happiest in the very early morning with a camera in my hand. I rise early, normally at around 5am, and go for a walk. I live 2km from my local town, Athy. Most days I will walk to town with a small camera in my pocket. Sometimes I will take photos and other days the camera remains unused. It is a solitary time and I find it mentally uplifting. During my walk I mentally plan out my day ahead. My ongoing photography project “Athy before Breakfast” has it’s origins in these walks. I find it very satisfying to see the town come to life each morning. It provides great inspiration and photographic opportunities.Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My background is in the IT industry. It demands, order, logic, accuracy and repeatability. Those words are probably opposites of what is required as an artist. Therefore my immersion into the world of photography was a huge change. Starting out as a photographer I mastered the technical side of things relatively quickly. However I had to work must harder on the creative aspects. I had never delved much into the arts previously so when I ventured there in my photography I was entering an unknown world. There was so much to be learned. I had to immerse myself and discover my inner artist. I found it so refreshing and inspirational. Here I was in middle age starting my life afresh. Photography requires an appreciation of Colour Harmony, of Story Telling and of observing scenes and events. I struggled with that in the early days. Thankfully, through training my eyes and mind to look beyond the obvious, I have developed those skill sets. Photography demands that you capture three dimensional scenes in to a two dimensional product. You cannot successfully do that if you have a one dimensional mind-set. I make photographs of what I enjoy and what appeals to me. I am in the position whereby I will turn down work if I find it does not arouse my interest. Primarily I take photos for myself and luckily what I like capturing is also something that my customers like buying. I cannot imagine a photography life of taking images that do not capture your imagination or stir emotion within yourself.If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Athy is a small rural town located in a river valley. The River Barrow and the Grand Canal flow through the centre of it. It is a very historic town with many buildings hundreds of years old. The famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton was born just outside of Athy. The museum in Athy has a wonderful collection of Shackleton artefacts and that would be a must see. A renovated barge sails along the Barrow and Canal and this would be an ideal way to spend an afternoon on board. There are a couple of very old traditional pubs in Athy. Frank O’Brien’s, which incorporates a bar and grocery shop in the one building is another gem. It is like stepping back 60 years in time. Clancy’s bar hosts a traditional Irish music session weekly attracted people from far and near. This session has been running every Thursday night for over 50 years. You have to arrive early to ensure you have a seat for the night. There is no charge, musicians just arrive and start playing and singing. Athy is the heartland of Irish Horse Racing. The Curragh Racecourse located close by is home to all of the Irish Classic Horseraces. The town boasts a fine array of dining experiences and choices. From traditional Irish fare to Italian, Indian and Chinese cuisine means you will not go hungry.Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I was a late convert to photography. I did not start taking photos seriously until I was in my early 40s. I joined my local Camera Club, Athy Photographic Society. I found the support, fellowship and encouragement from the members as huge inspiration for me to further my photographic career.