John R. Pepper is an Italian photographer renowned for his black and white street work and most recently a collection of isolating desert photos he calls Inhabited Deserts.
John grew up as a photographer, having his first photo published at only 15 and studying under the wings of Ugo Mulas. His early sense of direction gave him the opportunity to craft his own unique style and philosophy for photography. In an interview with Monovisions, Pepper described his process before taking a photo. Briefly speaking; there is none. To Pepper, being a photographer is an open-minded pursuit that discourages planning. He says it is akin to falling in love and to fall in love is to have an open mind about things. His photographs as a street photographer benefit from the process.
As a street photographer, Pepper catches these intimate moments in moving time. Often the subject will linger in the background seeming to be stuck amidst a scene. It’s almost as if each subject of each photograph seems preoccupied. This is especially the case in photos where the subject acknowledges the camera where then they seem to be either caught off guard or momentarily framing themselves.
However, it’s his photos of deserts that really got my attention. The styling is the same as his street photography being composed of either noisy foregrounds or absolutely clear lines of contrast. What I find is that despite the collection’s title, Inhabited Deserts, there is a very authentic and palpable human loneliness to them. I don’t mean to say that the photos make me feel lonely, quite the opposite. Inhabited Deserts feels familiar and, as I said, human.