Sometimes creatives minds are just meant to work together, you see like-minded movements and the perspectives are aligned. This was truly the case when photographer Jonathan Mannion shot campaigns for PNB Nation. We caught up with him to share some of these moments and images with us including working with the legendaryHarold Hunter (R.I.P).
What was your relationship with PNB, how did you end up working with them?
My relationship with the mighty PNB Nation was one that I truly valued. I felt that what they were creating was miles ahead of its time, they were trendsetters, never followers. Any of the items created could still hold up today because they made lasting product with a clever and thoughtful position.
I don't quite know how I officially started shooting the campaigns for them, but I think it was the fact that I was really present on the scene, believed in their product, wore it proudly and asked to contribute. Building from this position, I spoke with regularity to Brue and felt that how I approached my photographic work was similar to how they approached their style & design. We all worked passionately to make something important, true to culture with a unique perspective. I think that's why it all clicked because, even independently, PNB & MANNION wanted the same thing in the end... great work.
Proud Nubian Brothers, Post No Bills, Please No Bacon will live on forever in my mind!
Who came up with the concept and locations for the shoot with Harold?
Harold Hunter was a fixture on the scene and was one of the warmest souls that anyone could have encountered. I knew that I could push him to take chances as he had no boundaries. With those wide parameters, I had some ideas based on the location of where I wanted to shoot, Spanish Harlem and near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, and PNB brought a few props and came armed with ideas of their own that we tried to push to the fullest. It was always a collaborative process with PNB in that they were always cared about how the brand was perceived. So even if I led the vision saying "let's shoot in front of the Botanica because I want a panoramic shot here," they would allow it to happen and then read the scene with me and offer suggestions. There were always what I would call "gifts" during PNB shoots as well, just things that happened in the background that we reacted to that often times became the lead photos of the campaigns. We truly worked well together. It was always 100% effort put forth to make images that were, and still are, legendary.
Harold was know for being a character, was there any particular moment or story from your time shooting him you can reflect on?
I remember a moment of him riding a miniature bicycle in the Bronx and that he was taking it so seriously, giving his all to the performance and having a blast doing it. This kicked off our day of shooting and we knew that it was going to be a special session. There are so many images of Harold that represented the left of center, but totally clear, vision of the brand: him in a public pool with water wings on in 3ft of water with a bunch of little kids, the shot in front of a rugged looking cake shop in 116th, a shot of him using two bananas as guns from a fruit stand, commandeering a piragua and yelling that he had icees. There were really endless moments that are stand out due to the synergy of Harold, myself and PNB. I'm honored to have brought so many important moments to life for them and grateful for the relationship that is important in my rise to success.