Working in both colour and black and white, John McDermott began his career at Wellington Polytechnic in 1985; at the time being one of only twelve students selected to study photography.
After returning from four years of travel and work in Asia and Europe, he began freelancing full-time in New Zealand. In the following years he worked extensively in magazines, specializing predominantly in portraiture and photojournalism.
During this stage he embarked on the first of his book projects, resulting in the production of the best-selling Heartland. This book captured the heart of New Zealand communities, from the small towns to the urban suburbs, from debutante balls to gang members of the East Coast.
Arts connections developed through his magazine work resulted in his first Creative New Zealand grant for the book Truth by Illusion, a backstage view of the production of performing arts in New Zealand.
John worked on a further five books in the following years, while supporting these projects with corporate and advertising assignments. He exhibited regularly, and his exhibition Heartland was toured nationally.
In 2011 he became the founding photographer for the fledgling New Zealand Dance Company. Three years later, he was awarded his second Creative New Zealand grant for the book process, documenting the rehearsal and development of this company over the intervening years. process was published in March 2015.
John has led a number of annual courses in Contemplative Photography.
He continues to be involved with the documentation of various cultural communities.
“While I work in both Colour and B/W, I’ve an intense interest in the finished article and my creative process is not complete until I hold a print in my hand or put it on a wall. Permanence, durability, consistency, versatility and the tactile properties of a given paper are of the utmost importance.
The paper that gives me these qualities is Galerie Smooth Cotton Rag.”