Jonathan Mannion is widely known for his work in celebrity portrait photography. His work can be characterized by his unique ability to orchestrate a moment that exposes the subject’s inner essence. He consistently communicates their stories with authenticity, respect and enduring relevance. In Mannion’s words, “My goal is to create the definitive portrait of that person at that moment, every time I shoot.”
Mannion was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1970 and graduated from Kenyon College. In 1993, he turned a serendipitous meeting with iconic photographer Richard Avedon into a full-time position that would profoundly shape his craft and career.
Mannion first established himself as a cultural force through his work with the recording industry, documenting over twenty years of hip-hop music. Early in his career, when many in mainstream media were dismissing rap music as a passing fad, Mannion was hustling to create the cover art for Jay-Z’s debut LP, Reasonable Doubt. It was the first of many iconic album covers with prominent MC’s that quickly crowned Mannion as hip-hop’s premiere visual biographer. His reputation spread farther through a founding partnership with FADER Magazine, a collaboration that produced dozen of memorable cover images for the publication. He established and elevated a new aesthetic within the genre. The result, in the words of DJ Quik, is that “the world sees hip-hop through [his] eyes.”
Over the course of two decades, Mannion has become the go-to creative collaborator for brands and celebrities alike. His portfolio includes many of the most fascinating figures in pop culture, from LeBron James to Kanye West, while his recent brand work includes a global multi-year print ad campaign for Bushmills. Mannion has produced integrated content for iconic brands such as Nike and Hennessey, and was commissioned by venerable photo brand Leica to capture the culture of New Orleans through his lens. Building on this legacy, in 2011 and 2012, Mannion partnered with Reebok to usher the brand’s foray into the art scene during Art Basel in Miami and at MILK Gallery in Los Angeles during Grammy Week. His photos have also been featured at the Grammy Museum, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Mannion’s tremendous influence on our collective photographic memory is evident, yet he continues to seek and catalyze “what’s next” in culture. From Japan to Jamaica, Mannion has been turning the streets into his studio, partnering with contemporaries who challenge the status quo. Every step of the way, he is sharing the journey in real time, with a public that is hungry for a truth well told.