Artist's Corner:

“Philamena’; a photograph of a young Irish Traveller girl, from the book “Growing Up Travelling” by Photographer Jamie Johnson

4th October 2021, 12am

Today ICC Digital is delighted to bring you another stunning portrait from the book “Growing up Travelling: The Inside World of Irish Traveller Children’ by the acclaimed American Photographer, Jamie Johnson.   This image of Philamena is the fourth photograph of Jamie’s which we have presented. To see the previous images, go to our ‘Artists Corner’ on ICC Digital.

Jamie Johnson has spent 20 years photographing children from various cultures around the world, and she has been documenting Irish Travellers since 2014. ‘Growing Up Travelling’ is full of Jamie’s evocative and stunning ‘black and white’ images of Irish Traveller children, which captures both the singular culture of the Travellers and the universal joys and challenges of childhood.

Throughout the book Johnson intersperses simple, touching and beautiful comments from the Traveller children’s own mouths, which provides a rhythm to the book and these comments defines Traveller life and culture.

The book has an in-depth forward by Professor Mary M. Burke, (University of Connecticut) who is the author of ‘Tinkers’: Synge and the Cultural History of the Irish Traveller.    

In her forward Burke says.. “Jamie Johnson’s volume is a work in which Traveller children living in roadside encampments and halting sites (both legal and illegal) defiantly celebrate their culture in the face of a centuries ­old and ongoing message from settled society that it is a world of little value. Johnson’s photographs, taken in Galway, Limerick, Cork and Tipperary, celebrate the vitality, beauty and cultural pride of minority children to whom such terms are all too rarely applied”.

About Jamie Johnson: Jamie Johnson is a Los Angeles photographer specialising in fine art and documentary projects around children. Jamie’s passion for faces of the next generation has been a life long focus. She has travelled the world capturing images of children and childhood around the globe. From Laos to Cuba, from the Amazon to India and around the world and back, she has found a universality in the world of children and her passion grows stronger with each new adventure. The lifestyles, cultures and traditions of growing up around the world are closely examined in her photos and each connection she makes with her young new subjects creates life-long friendships with the families. Her work has been exhibited Internationally in galleries and museums from New York thru London and Paris and has been published in dozens of magazines. Jamie’s work is in the permanent collection of several museums. She has won top 50 of Critical Mass in 2017 and 2019 and has a huge collectors base of A list celebrities.

Her book “Growing up Travelling” was published in 2020 and it has already won several awards for Best photo Book in 2020. Jamie currently lives in Los Angeles and has two daughters, Lillianna and Violet.

Growing Up Travelling: The Inside World of Irish Traveller Children”
is Published by Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg 2020 The Book  is available to buy on worldwide & bookstores worldwide

This is what Jamie Johnson says about her time working with the Traveller Children in Ireland…

  “I have spent my entire career photographing children all over the world. The last five years I have focused my eyes on the Irish Traveller children, who live in caravans on the side of the road or in open fields throughout Ireland. The Traveller community are an Irish nomadic indigenous ethnic minority. There is no recorded date as to when Travellers first came to Ireland. This is lost to history but Travellers have been recorded to exist in Ireland as far back as history is recorded. Even with their great history they live as outsiders to society and face unbelievable racism growing up. As a mother of two daughters I became so interested in the culture and traditions and lives of these children. I have spent five years traveling back and forth to Ireland to document these incredible children.

The experience I had photographing the grit and beauty, that is the everyday life of a Traveller child, is one that inspires me everyday. Their deep respect for family and cultural values is refreshing, one that can be quite difficult to find in an age with the convince of social media. Not always immediately accepting of an outsider holding a large camera, I took my time getting to know and understand these faces that represent the new generation. My ever growing fascination with the children of today has lead my all over the world, capturing their innocence or in some cases loss of, in its most raw form. I now am able to go back to these sites all over Ireland and know that I am welcomed.

Unlike most children they are unable to refer to a history book to learn about their ancestors, a part of this journey was being able to document an era that is so different to any other I have shot. It is one that is and will always be rapidly changing; every time I visit it is a whole different world yet with the relationships I have been lucky enough to make, it seems to feel like I never left. My days with the Traveller’s are often filled with quite personal and intimate events which I am ever so grateful to be invited to, numerous religious ceremonies inside beautiful medieval churches and family barbecues where everyone is singing and dancing in harmony, whilst sharing an array of unique traditional cuisines, and daily school lessons and prayer. I am exponentially grateful that the young people whom I documented and that I have come in contact with over my years of visiting, are able to call me their friend and I can happily say the same.

The experience I had photographing the grit and beauty, that is the everyday life of a Traveller child, is one that inspires me everyday. When I visit these families, I’m not just a photographer, I try my best to become a part of these communities. As a mother of two young women, i know how to talk to children and parents. Being a mom greatly benefits my work, it is because this, that for the short amount of time I am able to be with them, I see these young kids through their mothers eyes. I feel this great responsibility as an artist and a woman to show these kids in their own worlds being themselves.

It is with an honest heart I hope to show that these beautiful children who have great hopes and goals and work everyday to reach their dreams no matter how hard they have to fight racisms and stereotypes placed on them for centuries. A child is an innocent, happy, precious part of the world that should be loved and accepted and encouraged no matter where or how they live”.

To find out more about Jamie

Visit her website:

Instagram: @Jamiejohnsonphotography

Facebook: @Jamiejohnsonphotography

Twitter: @Jamiezjohnson

To purchase any limited edition of Jamie Johnson’s fine art prints contact: [email protected]