When a photographer and set designer come together, whether it’s for an editorial shoot, a commercial project or simply for fun, the collaboration requires understanding, patience and of course, bucket loads of imagination. Two people who make it look easy are photographer Jess Bonham and set designer Anna Lomax, who have worked together on many projects over the years for clients including Miu Miu, Hermés, Google, Vogue, Nike and many more.
The pair first met at Brighton University on its illustration course. “My early memories of her at uni were that she liked black and white and minimalism, and I was quite impressed that she was a black belt in Karate,” says Lomax of Bonham. “I remember she was a bit elusive in the first term as she would go back to London a lot. But we quickly became mates over a shared sense of humour and love of music and raves.”
Bonham and Lomax stayed close throughout university and after moving to London, the pair and group of fellow graduates took on a shared studio space in Dalston. The first time they worked together came six months after being in the space, on a project called Lost & Found.
“I had just come out of a full time position assisting the portrait photographer, Julian Broad, and was working on building up a portfolio,” says Bonham. “I hadn’t really planned to become a still life photographer, but a trip to Dungeness led us to develop a project around the discarded objects we found strewn all over the beach. We bought a carload of junk back to our studio and built a story around these objects, finding ways to breathe new life into them through interesting juxtapositions, textures and colour. So it was curiosity that brought us to work together. We just wanted to see what would come out of it.”
Guided by instinct, the pair found that their different perspectives and styles actually complemented each other. “My ‘more is more’ aesthetic and love of colour with Jess’ minimalism and ‘strip it back’ approach worked well together,” says Lomax. “The project was fun, ambitious and experimental for both of us. Our style has evolved but essentially the fun, ambition and experimentation still stand as the fundamentals of why we like working with each other.”