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.
Jessica Oleksy is passionate about photography and creative people. Through this blog she will introduce you to the people that inspire her.