Clean, Sophisticated, Yet Shocking.
Jason Saffer is a photographer and friend I met working in Denver. What is interesting to me is how many of the great photographers and artists I know crossed paths in Denver around the same time period approximately 8-10 years ago. Jason and I worked together at Wolf Camera in downtown Denver which was the old Robert Waxman. We didn't love it there but that is part of the journey of getting by is doing what it takes to pay the bills so you can take photos and create art.
Although I've known Jason since that time I wasn't introduced to his photography until I did my previous blog post on Derik Penny who said that Jason was one of his inspirations. Through that post I was able to discover Jason Saffer's photography. I must say I was impressed especially by the image below. The composition is absolutely perfect and the moment is there. You find yourself trying to figure out the story of the two subjects in the photo. Where is this woman going? This is a classic because you can't tell when it was taken. Was it shot in 1910 or 2010? His lines are clean and light is evenly distributed yet the contrast and the tonal range are on point.
Tell me about your photography/art background?
I have my B.A. From Rochester Institute of Technology in Photographic Illustration. I guess that is their fancy way of saying photography degree. I have traveled the country living all over and shooting and assisting along my journey. Recently I have returned to the east coast and completed a Masters degree in library and information sciences. I still shoot constantly and travel as often as possible, but have realized in my travels and through cataloging my personal collection, that I truly loved organizing and preserving these items. The path I followed took over 20 years to get me where I finally want to be in my photographic career, but it all started with those first negatives and my questions of storage, recall, and preservation.
What kind of subjects do you shoot/or what are you currently working on?
Historically I am drawn to landscape, city-scape, and abstracted subjects. I prefer these because I can do them on my own time, without having to depend on models flaking out at the last minute, which throughout the years is more common than the model showing up (my models anyway). I have never given up on shooting people, as I have experienced that this style of shooting is difficult to master and takes constant practice. I have for the past couple of years left my comfort zone of shooting on my own and attempted to better my skills in working with people in front of my camera. For me, just having a pretty person in an environment isn't enough. Thousands of photographers make great pictures that fall into this category and they all, for me, become the same image. For me there is no substance to the portrait. Even when shooting a fashion image, to try to steer clear of the pretty girl in a bikini cliché, I try to find something that connects the viewer, or at the very least, myself, to a story or thought deeper than that of just a pretty person in a pretty environment
"I have many projects going, some for the past 12 years, some for just a few months now. My projects rarely, rather never seem to have an end point. I pick a lot of open ideas that can allow for growth within the projects, especially with my abstracts and landscape shots." - Jason Saffer
What inspires you as a photographer/artist?
I used to read quite a bit, and I would find that many ideas came about while reading. However, in my adult life, I have lost the freedom to read what and how I used to, so I've naturally adapted to finding my inspiration through feelings. Through response mostly. Response to a conversation, to a song, to the walk I just went on, or to the environment where I may find myself.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I have slowed down on viewing specific artists' works and following their careers. I have found hundreds of photographers and artists that have influenced my love of everything visual. I am addicted to imagery, as I assume we all are, non-photographers and artists as well. The world we live in is highly addicted and dependent upon the visual. It is hard to be alive and not be inspired or even annoyed at times at all the imagery forced upon us.
I mean, I could name a ton of people but we've all seen there works, and for different reasons I choose different artists. Duane Michaels won me over early on with his wit, intelligence, and story telling abilities. Sebastiao Salgado also tells a great story, but utilizes different visual tools than Duane. Then there is my favorite printer of all time, Joel Peter-Witkin. His work may be viewed as shock value on the surface, however it takes on all aspects of life, death, art history, gender roles, etc. Plus, his prints are absolutely amazing to see in person. There are so many other shooters and artists of all styles and mediums that impress me. But in the end, I try to create my own pieces with my touch to them. I am aware most everything has been done before, so I do it my way.
I find that I do some of my best work when motivated to go out and travel with another photographer. Plan a weekend trip,or don't plan at all. Get in your car, and just drive, when one of you feels like going in a certain direction, just shout it out and change directions. Uncertainty is a big influence as well.
What are your goals as a photographer?
My goals...just to experiment and become the best I can within the areas of photography that I can be. Making a perfect print might be my goal with one process, where another process I may go strictly for emotional response from the viewer. I have goals and then I don't have goals, I like to see where things lead.
Check out more of Jason's photography at www.jsafferphotography.com
Each artist that I introduce I would like to inspire just one person.
An Entrepreneur, Photographer, Woodworker, and Beyond.
I met Derik when I worked at Wolf Camera in downtown Denver at least 10 years ago. It seemed like he was just a teenager so in many ways I feel that I saw Derik grow up which is pretty cool. He was born an artist, the way he thinks, the way he sees, the way he lives. As long as I can remember he's been creating something interesting either with his camera or his hands. Not many people can express their art in so many forms.
Top: I got caught in the rain and running for cover i happened upon this couple huddled under a tiny umbrella bracing against the wind. The film was a high speed black and white, so the grain did the talking. 35mm inside of 120mm camera. Bottom Left: That beautiful girl framed inside of the MOMA's giant window's in New York, is Gina. She's been around for a long time always encouraging be to pursue all of the art forms I find interesting at any given time. 120mm Bottom Right: The building my Dad worked in since i can remember. When he passed away when i was seventeen i took a lot of refuge in art. I see this building in my day to day. Its an important piece in the skyline of my life. 120mm
Derik's dad whom passed away when Derik was just 17 made a huge impact on his life. At 17 you haven't quite grown up yet and you still need the guidance of your parents to become the person you're supposed to be. This is when Derik took refuge in his art. When someone is so important to you you'll find ways to keep that person close and remind you that they're still there. The image of the building above is where Derik's dad worked and so it's and important part of the skyline in his life which he states in the captions above.
Tell me about your background in photography and woodworking?
As far as my background goes in photography, There's been a camera in my hands since elementary school. Not constantly but its always there. Always trying to find my fingerprint in the art but a lack of confidence always kept it just out of reach. A classic case of Jack of all, master of none. Every camera I've ever used is still spread out through out my place, reminding me of my roots, a visible metaphor that things take time. Currently I'm pursuing another art form that's been in my life since I could walk, woodworking. I've been doing small stuff on a hobby level for years but recently got a part time gig inside of a design studio called Spark Design. The guy behind it all is a mad genius, the type that's good at anything he gets his hands on. From wood, metal, stone, concrete. Small scale stuff to entire build outs for restaurants. I'm trying to push a section of his business that is custom designed furniture and house wares.
What Inspires you and keeps you going?
I'm in a bit of a passion pit with a concept of my own "store." I'm dialing in a few concepts with wood, beard care goods, and the ever useful handkerchief with a design I cant seem to finish. And all though i'm not active in the money/passion pit of film photography, I'm currently using the oh so convenient smart phone camera to document my wife Gina and my travels to every ballpark in the Major League, through the eyes of each stadiums signature hot dog! Check it! thishotdoglife.tumblr.com Though now that I think about it, maybe documenting a summer long honeymoon adventure in hot dog photos won't make Gina fall in love with me all over again...
What inspires you?
I am surrounded by inspiring artists in my life. The top of the list is probably our good buddy Josh Olsen or OtterJ. It's a constant reminder of what confidence and courage will get you. And Jason Saffer's tenacity in his photography and style makes me never want to give up. http://www.jsafferphotography.com/ And I'm not sure who these guys are but it's some of the best street portraiture I've ever seen, my mind is blown whenever it comes across my feed. http://moodboard.streetetiquette.com/ A friend of mine, Breezy Sanchez who breaks comfort zones everyday for the sake of art.
And the biggest inspiration, has to be Gina my wife. I mean, the shit she puts up with in this "boys club" of a world is nuts. And she kills it! And rarely lets it bring her down. you gals out there have so many things going against you, i don't know where you find the energy to put up with it. She always reminds me that being mopey doesn't get me anywhere.
Check out more of Derik's work random bits of things in my life derikpenny.tumblr.com
Each artist that I introduce I would like to inspire just one person.
Jessica Oleksy is passionate about photography and creative people. Through this blog she will introduce you to the people that inspire her.