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Johny Pitts: Photographer, Writer and Broadcaster. He shares with us what inspires him, New Year resolutions and his exciting plans for 2024.
FINLAY Meets: Photographer, Writer and Broadcaster Johny Pitts
Johny Pitts is a self taught photographer, writer and broadcaster from Sheffield who started his career when noticing people and spaces close to his heart had faded and no one was there to record it all. 

We had the opportunity to photograph Johny in Japan at the end of 2023. He shares with us what inspires him, New Year resolutions and his exciting plans for the rest of 2024. 

Johny wears Enismore Sunglasses with Orange Lenses - $225

What inspired your career? 

By the time I'd reached my early twenties I noticed loads of people and spaces that had been important to me as a working class kid had disappeared, and no one had been there to document it all. So I took it upon myself to do so.

Where do we find your work? 
I use instagram as an open notebook, share long term projects on my website (about to be revamped) and my work has been seen at various galleries, like Foam, The Photographer's Gallery and soon the Hayward Gallery. I also host a show about books on BBC Radio 4 called 'Open Book'. My books 'Afropean' and 'Home is not a Place' can be found in all good bookshops. Only good ones, not bad ones.

Johny wears Kingsley Sunglasses in Gold with Green Lenses - $225

Do you have any New Year's Resolutions?

I have a sign in my studio that reads, in large, bold capital letters; "SLOW DOWN". Not to get too caught up in self-help cliches, but I'd like to work a little more quietly and thoughtfully this year, and also try to live in service a bit more - make time for friends, be more present with family, call my Mum more often, lend a bigger hand in the local community...that kind of thing. I think we get caught up in the system sometimes and forget why we got into this stuff in the first place!

What is your favourite FINLAY frame? 

I love how sunglasses can hide tired eyes, and wear them often. But during winter, on these short, grey days, I sometimes look like a diva on the school run or whatever, so I really like the orange tinted Enismore glasses, that still let me hide behind them a little bit, but at least allow some eye contact and can be justified even when it's dark and cold outside. I love their shape, too; they give me Rico Tubbs Miami Vice vibes circa '86.

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

This last couple of years I've found a lot of funny accounts on Instagram that always cheer me up when the news makes me despair about humanity, particularly @halooaziz, @basicallybeckijo, @dnlishworld and @imjustbait . I find them not just humorous but inspirational, because they're all the things I try to embody creatively; inventive, low-tech, counter-intuitive, DIY, fresh yet familiar.


Johny wears Elvaston Sunglasses with Brown Lenses - $225

Favourite shoot destination? 
There's an 80s postmodern hotel in the south of Japan I stayed in as a child. When I was there then, it was brand new and futuristic. Now when I go back it's slightly faded and haunted, like the future as imagined by the 1980s. It's huge and sometimes I'm one of only a handful of people staying there, but I love the way the architect, Yoshiro Ikehara, designed the space with light in mind. When the sun is setting the 80s interior glows in a way that is a dream for a photographer.
Any exciting projects planned for the year? 

I have a four part documentary series I wrote and presented about my childhood memories of late 80s Japan coming out this month (starts Jan 16th) on BBC Radio 4 called 'The Failure of the Future'. Then I'll be designing my own course for a semester at the University of Bern in Switzerland, while a group show I curated about Working Class Photographers called 'After The End of History' tours the UK as part of the Hayward Touring Gallery.

Johny wears Enismore Sunglasses with Orange Lenses - $225

A quote or piece of advice you live by? 
I have this quote by Angela Davis up in my studio, which I find empowering; "Sometimes we have to do the work, even though we don't yet see a glimmer on the horizon that it's actually going to be possible" - it reminds me to push myself, and also not wait for other people to commission or understand a project - just try and listen to whatever speaks to your soul, and then find a way to bring that to the world externally.
Which FINLAY frame would you like to add to your collection?
I have the lightly tinted glasses, but I'd like some classic jet black tints like the Kingsley black sunglasses, for those rare days when the UK sun comes out to play.

You can find Johny via his website:  or on Instagram: @johnymodern

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