.. you are about to enter chapter 7 ..
PHOTO BY WILL CORNFIELD
“You can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club.” - Jack London
it was a 10pm, and it was at iHOP. this is when i first thought how wonderful it might be to have a fresh source of inspiration. something that didn’t just give me tips and tricks, but went a little deeper. i didn’t care about f-stop. i didn’t care about the filters. i wanted to know artists. i wanted to know the people behind the pictures and the posts. to see the work, and to take the time to be hypnotized by it. i missed that. i didn’t want to keep scrolling past images in seconds, scrolling through what took minutes, hours, or days of inspiration, work and execution. so Chapter 7, to me, is a timeout. a break from this rapid age of consumption. these pages are meant to give you a moment to really sit with the images, words, thoughts and feelings of a few incredible on the rise artists. what you’re reading now is an idea finally come to reality. to me, artists are simply people that take what’s in their heads, and put it out into the world. they are grand communicators, of what often seems like uncommunicative thoughts or feelings. these pages are for you. i believe that you need them. chances are, you’re not the only starving artist in the world. Chapter 7 is for you. it’s for me. I hope these pages pull you in and make you sit, and then i hope they push you out and make you move.
- jordan randall // editor-in-chief
ALAINA MADDY FOCUS FEATURING MEGHAN THE ART FEATURING JACKSON
WELK ON PAIGE MARIN OF LAURA WILSON
... THE SMITH
28 42 THUMB ... 60
THE SELF-PORTRAIT FILAS ... 90 ...
Cover photo by Meghan Marin
Special thanks Nicole Tillotson ... copy editor. without Nicole Chapter 7 is an illegible mess. she was the translator to my giberish. a thousands claps for you Nicole. Isaiah Gripper ... friend. Isaiah was there in that iHOP when this idea first came to life. without Isaiahâ€™s love, kindness, and willingness to tell me when my ideas stink, there is no Chapter 7. love you, dude.
PHOTO BY PAIGE SMITH
WILL CORNFIELD @willcornfield
“...a lot of times the camera just doesn’t do it justice, but I try my best...” Who are you? I am an adventurer. I try to create beautiful moments with the people I am with while discovering the little details and having people interact with them. Basically, I love portraying how people interact with place. Where are you currently located? Why are you there and what inspires you about it? I am currently located in Rochester, NY. I came here to go to school and study marketing, and I’m staying because I fell in love with this city and the community that comes with it. Rochester is a unique place because everyone here has the same goal, and that is to make Rochester a beautiful city. I came in at a perfect time because now I feel like I can have a stake in what happens in this city. I try my best to support a bunch of different things like small businesses, local music, and local art. I love seeing how these things are growing, and I just want to help them get to their full potential.
Describe your work in a way you never have before. My work is raw, but it’s also warm, inviting, and relatable, I think. I have a very real feel to the photos I take. I want people to see what I’m seeing in the moment; and a lot of times, the camera just doesn’t do it justice. But, I try my best to show people what I’m seeing and feeling in the moment. How would you describe your everyday style? Pretty ‘90s, I guess? I don’t really know, but that’s what people tell me. I dress pretty simple. Simple colors, no patterns, pretty relaxed.
Name something you like about your work. Then, tell me an insecurity you have about your work I like that my work generally focuses on a person. I love portrait shooting because I can truly capture personality in a photo. One thing I don’t like is the business of the photos. Sometimes, I wish that I only shot with plain backgrounds because nothing is ever perfect in the locations I shoot. I am very inspired by other photographers that do this, and sometimes I wish I can do what they did instead of what I do.
When did you start taking pictures? I developed an interest for taking pictures when I was younger. I would experiment how I could get cool shots with disposable cameras. Figuring out how to use light or even the flash the right way made for some super cool photos. When I got a little older, my mom started to let me use her Sony Cybershot, which was fun. When I could finally purchase an iPhone, I was so happy because now I could learn to take good pictures, and an iPhone was super easy to carry around. I guess learning on an iPhone was good for me because it taught me to worry about getting the right shot and not to focus on the editing until later. After a while, I was shown a lot of support on my Instagram account. This pushed me to want to explore photography further; so, I bought a Canon 60D, and I still use that camera to this day. Itâ€™s just been fun to teach myself photography, instead of having anyone else teach me, so I can develop my own personal style. How would you describe your childhood in general? My childhood was super nice. I grew up in a big family with three younger brothers and an older sister. My dad was big into sports, and he always pushed me to work hard so I could enjoy my sport in college (which was awesome cause now I am playing soccer at Roberts Wesleyan). My family is amazing, and I miss being away from them; but, at the same time, Rochester feels like home.
Can you remember a photograph that has stuck with you?
There was the day I first realized I wanted to live in Rochester, NY. I was with a group of people, and we went to Hamlin Beach. Some friends went into the water at sunset, and it was just a beautiful moment. I knew I wanted to be in Rochester after that day, so the picture remains still in my head. Also, there was the time I went to an Instagram meetup in NYC. The fog was insane, and we were right next to the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge. So, I took a photo of someone I didnâ€™t know, and it still remains one of my favorite pics to this day. Shout-out someone elseâ€™s work that deserves attention. The first is my buddy Brian Cason (@briancason). His work is so clean and good to me. I love how his shots bring you in, and his style always stays the same even though his location never does. Super awesome photographer. The second is Adi Putra (@healingnoise). A friend recently showed me his work, and I am blown away. He uses film, which is something I have now clue how to do; and he also comes up with some of the coolest images I've ever seen. I love looking at every one of his pics. Another one of my favorites is Mackenzie Freemire (@mackenziediane). I met her in Chicago a while ago and realized she's one of the dopest photographers. Super clean style but also has some of the coolest pics. True artist. Also my, buddy Hunter Airheart (@dadofnashville). His style is just great to look at. I love his use of objects and colors. I'm always stoked to see everything he comes up with. Lastly, I want to give a shoutout to my best friend Tyler Phene (@typhen) because he helped pushed me to learn more about photography and develop my style. And, his work is rad.
One last thing:
I don’t really do photography for the viewers. I really just do it because I love doing it. I don’t really care what people think about my photography; I just love being able to express myself and my art through that medium. I want to continue to take pictures, have experiences, and create moments with other people. I always want my photography to be about those things and nothing else.
“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” - Émile Zola
PHOTO BY LAURA FILAS
ALAINA BRADSHAW @allybradshaw_
Who are you? I am a proud female, afro-tastic, Caribbean creative.
Where are you currently located? Why are you there and what inspires you about it? I am currently in either Rochester, NY or Miami, FL. Miami is my birthplace, Miami is my first love, Miami is the place where I was first introduced to a darkroom. What inspires me about Miami is its diversity and its art scene. The art district is full of creative minds who are free to share their visions with the city in their own way. I chose to attend Rochester Institute of Technology because I knew I wanted to introduce myself to the birthplace of film. Film is what made me fall in love with photography. Itâ€™s something about being physically and creatively responsible for the outcome of your negatives that inspires me to keep on documenting what matters to me and to create art.
Describe your work in a way you never have before. I see my work as an exploration of my personality. I am currently at an age where I am constantly learning and growing as I take in new information. As I grow, my work blossoms with me since everything I incorporate into my work is influenced by things that influence me.
Shout-out someone else’s work that deserves attention. My current favorite Instagram is @willcornfield. His portraits are absolutely gorgeous and I look forward to his posts on the daily.
How did you grow into taking the pictures you’re taking today? In high school I was obsessed with film and obsessed with exploring my city, so sophomore year I decided to combine my two obsessions. I captured everything I felt went unnoticed by people. I took pictures of architecture, nature, when eventually I got to photographing people. I found that my camera gave me the opportunity to connect with people I wouldn’t usually converse with otherwise, which forced me to explore other than what I know. That pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and start to learn more, do more, and explore things I used to dislike.
Who has had the most influence on your work? I have a lot of influences but the person who is very important to the work I am producing now is Petra Collins. Her use of color combined with light to exaggerate human emotion is exceptional. I also am a big fan of how she uses her personal work to speak about feminism and the female psyche which are two topics I feel strongly about.
How would you describe your style? I like to describe my style as modern nostalgia. I call it modern nostalgia because I like to take “dated” pieces of clothing and mix them with modern trends. 90% of my wardrobe comprises of extremely lucky thrift store finds, Forever 21, and lots of denim (preferably distressed).
Something you’re learning. I’m learning how to come into my own as an artist. I have to be able to create work I am proud of as well as use it to make my voice be heard.
How have your relationships influenced your art? Romantic relationships are nothing but trouble when it comes to my art. I think of romantic relationships as a creative block because it consumes so much time and energy, the same time and energy I need to focus on my work. Also, I have a habit of dating boys who aren’t that into (my) art which sounds pretty weird. Professional relationships are my favorite because conversing with photographers, artists, and musicians is infinitely inspiring. The young artists I’ve met in my lifetime have critiqued my work, contributed to my work, and best of all supported my work as it evolves over time. I honestly do not think I would be producing quality work without the support of my peers.
One last thing:
Choosing to pursue a career in photography is the best decision I have ever made. For a long time, I let peopleâ€™s thoughts and opinions about the life of an artist affect my decision-making. When I had to choose a college I chose a school with a good art program and other possibilities that were good as well because I was hesitant to commit to an artistâ€™s life. Once I got to college I quickly realized that all my doubts were somewhat valid yet it is still always worth it to pursue what you love. For all my fellow young creatives: please do not allow society to persuade you into believing that your talent is useless and you will never be able to survive off of your art. The truth is, in our time art is everywhere and in high demand so put yours out there whether you use it to beautify our world or to make a difference.
SHOTS ON FILM BY @indiahayesss
PHOTO BY PAIGE SMITH
Who are you? I’m a 20 year old college dropout who is only half good at everything except photography and loving dogs. I like boxed wine, Beyoncé’s new album, and “The Real Housewives” franchise. My favorite movie is “Mad Max: Fury Road”, and my favorite food is sautéed brussel sprouts with soy sauce. What I lack in confidence I make up for in the loudness of my natural speaking voice. How would you describe your childhood in general? It was pleasant. I have a huge, supportive family, and I grew up around many different types of personalities that have influenced me greatly. I listened to Britney Spears and the Beastie Boys. I rode ATVs and played with Barbies. I read a lot of books and climbed a lot of trees. Looking back, I realize it was kind of the ultimate childhood. Aw, memories...
“My favorite photos were always the ones from the prime of the 70s, the old, saturated Polaroids where the men are hairy and the women are fabulous.” Where are you currently located? Los Angeles. I was born and raised here, and to be honest, I’ll probably die here. I love LA because there’s so much around you; there’s really never an excuse to be bored. How did you grow into taking the pictures you’re taking today? I've always loved just looking at pictures. My grandma has boxes upon boxes of old family photos, and I always got so excited just to go through them and watch the way people's faces would change when I showed them. My favorite photos were always the ones from the prime of the 70s, the old saturated Polaroids where the men are hairy and the women are fabulous. What inspires your photos, and how do you stay inspired? Mostly through fashion trends and by finding new places to shoot. My favorite thing to do is drive around LA and look for cool spots to go hang out and take pictures. I also love putting together outfits— that aspect of photography is so fun to me. I love that I can have the creative freedom to design whatever it is I want in a shot. It's just straight up fun. I'm super attracted to those 70’s vibes that are so popular right now, but I'm always open to trying new things. There are always new roads to be traveled when it comes to art.
Shout-out someone else's work that deserves attention. Oh my god, definitely @claymossphoto. Not only is he a superb photographer, he's the sweetest, most supportive person in the Instagram community. I literally want to marry Clay. I'm also super jealous of his edits. What draws you to the film look while editing your photos? I love the feeling of film. I think everybody is drawn to it. It's gritty, it feels older than us. It's super popular right now actually, my most liked photos are the ones with the most grit. It's trendy right now to regress back in time. Just ask the GOP.
Describe your work in a way you never have before.
Half-assed nostalgia with an LA millennial flair. Whatâ€™s something that bothers you about photography today? I don't like it when the feeling of competition overwhelms the feeling of community. Especially with Instagram. Your number of followers doesn't equal your worth. I also feel like your social media success can distract you from real life success if you don't keep yourself in check. It's a slippery slope. How would you describe your everyday style? Lazy girl chic. I live my entire life in my LuLus, but I do love fashion. I love Brandy Melville and Free People and wearing as little as possible. I just don't have the body type I wish I had for it. But, I definitely have a stylethirst that cannot be quenched; so, recently I've started doing this thing where, when I go shopping, I only buy things for my models to wear during shoots. It sounds silly but I'd rather spend my money on cute clothes for shoots rather than more jeggings for myself.
How has social media shaped or impacted your photography?
How have your relationships influenced your art?
I love social media because Instagram is the way I've literally made all the connections in my photography career, but it's also a black hole for your self esteem. So, while it can encourage you in terms of inspiration and ideas and foster a sense of community and understanding, it can also make you feel like complete and total shit. I'll post something I feel REALLY good about, then scroll down a bit and see something so wonderful that, while it lifts my creative spirit, makes me think, "How is anybody ever going to like my stuff when something like this is already in our world." But that's the thing about photography, there is always going to be somebody who is super jazzed to see your work. There's so much freedom to roam. You can do anything and everything, and you can like whatever you damn well please. There's no particular mold you have to fit in and stay committed to.
I'm a super emotional person, so if I'm feeling supported and loved by the people around me, it really reflects in my work. If I'm glum, my work is glum. But, that's what it’s like for everybody who does something artsy. I love making other photographer friends though. As much as I love my family, and as supportive as they may be, they don't get as excited about my work or give me the constructive criticism I need in order to improve. What I love about the other photographers I've met on Instagram is, that when they give me feedback, they're not bullshitting me. We all want to improve, so there's no point in telling somebody something is good when you know they're capable of more. I've never really had anything like that until I got more involved in social media.
“But that's the thing about photography, there is always going to be somebody who is super jazzed to see your work.”
Something youâ€™re learning. How to be riskier and live a little. I turned 20 a month ago, and I spent my whole birthday crying over the thought of losing my youth because I'm a huge weenie like that. So, I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone more and seize more opportunities while I still can. I'm usually so hesitant to do things, either out of sheer laziness or because I'm already expecting a certain outcome. So far, I've learned that it's okay to be selfish sometimes. It's okay to eat that burger. It's okay to call in sick one day and go do something that makes you happy. It's okay to say no, and it's also okay to say yes. Everybody should live the life they want to be living, because you only get one shot at this thing. I've only got one shot at being 20, so I'm going to do as much learning and experiencing as I can before things get real.
One last thing:
Do whatever the fuck you want. Have breakfast for dinner. Drive a little too fast. Have a stress-induced cry in the middle of Panera Bread. Just don’t be mean to people, don’t get pregnant, and wear plenty of sunscreen. Hi mom.
PHOTO BY PAIGE SMITH
PHOTOS BY SHANNON COSTELLO (@shannoncostello)
do the flowers weep not because their days are short but rather ours and they know all too well how we do not stop enough to gather them in our hands and hair and bikes and books and eyes and hearts. k.e. henson 59
A CONVERSATION WITH IPHONEOGRAPHER PAIGE SMITH
Where are you currently located? What inspires you about it? I’m located in Rochester, New York. There’s so much about this city I love but I think the biggest thing is the progression, seeing it grow even in the last five years, it’s really exciting to be able to witness it and even be apart of it. I love to travel though! I take any chance I can to go somewhere I’ve never been before, even if it’s a day trip.
Do you have a background in the arts, or is your iphoneography your first venture into the artistic community? I got into art, in all different types of mediums in high school and absolutely loved it. So in college I studied Graphic Design. Specifically, iphoneography is something that’s been a gradual interest of mine throughout the years. I’ve always loved taking photos but I think this platform has really helped solidify my style.
What is Instagram to you? What’s something you like about it and maybe something you don’t? Instagram to me is truly personal, I look at it as my visual diary and carry a lot of wonderful moments within my photographs that are all in this space organized accordingly. I love the community behind the app, there’s so much support and great feedback being shared from artist to artist. And connecting with people all over the world, what’s better than that? Something I don’t like about it though is how some people treat it like a competition, it’s not supposed to be seen that way and it spoils its authenticity.
What inspires you to keep taking photos with your phone? To remember. Days, weeks, months and years are flying by before me and I’m so thankful I take as many photos as I do because it allows me to connect back to those moments that otherwise could be long forgotten.
Favorite app to edit your photos with? My favorite editing app is VSCO Cam, I’ve been using it for years and it’s been very reliable! It helps me highlight those warm tones I love so much.
Do you have a favorite photo you’ve taken? If so, why is it your favorite? What do you look for when taking a picture? I love color theory, it really is something I adore. I tend to gravitate towards either soft pastels or earth tones. I don’t like a lot of clutter, I want my photos to be soft and inviting when you look at them.
Finding my favorite photo of mine was harder than I thought, but this one picture of Big Sur (page 111) has to be the one, not only because it’s absolutely beautiful, but because visiting this place was one of the best days of my life. The sunrise was incredible, the pink tones were so delicate looking and a flock of birds had flew by right after I took this photo, I felt like I was dreaming, it was so surreal. I’ll never forget that feeling.
Shout-out another iphoneographer that deserves attention. Iphoneographer @michaeladale has always been one of my favorites, her tones are incredible and I’ve always been in love with her subject matter!
Follow Paigeâ€™s daily adventures on Instagram:
MEGHAN MARIN @meghanmarin
Who are you? I am a photographer and human.
Where are you currently located? Why are you there and what inspires you about it? I’m currently in Rochester, NY. I’m here for school at RIT for advertising photography, and I absolutely love the area because it’s filled with so local creatives and talented students in my program.
How did you grow into taking the pictures you’re taking today? I’ve grown so much over the past year, and I’ve been introduced to a lot of styles, artists, and photographers. I’ve thought a lot lately about how I’m going to make my work meaningful and have an impact on people’s lives for the better, which became a motivator to make myself work harder and make images that make people think. I’ve transitioned away from the on-the-fly style of photography that I had when I came to RIT, and I’ve been taught so much from my instructors and peers here. I know I’m going in a direction that will take me where I want to be.
What do you consider the most important event of your life so far?
Shout-out someone else’s work that deserves attention.
It’s really hard to choose just one, but every time I travel it becomes forefront of my thoughts and ideas. I’ve been to Norway few times, and every time I go it changes my outlook on my work and my life. Traveling for me is many small events that add up to a beautiful experience.
So many to name, but I think everyone should go look at @parkerfitzhenry’s work, he is my number one inspiration!
Name something you like about your work. Then name an insecurity about your work. I love my more simple style of composition and my focus on color, I think those are my strongest suits. I am unsure still of my ability to light effectively, because it’s something that I’m still learning. My biggest insecurity is my inability to be content with the snapshots that I try to capture. I wish I had more the skill of photographers who capture natural moments.
Describe your work in a way you never have before. The other day, I was told that my newest series of portraits were very ‘Dada,’ a style which I think fits the emotional standpoints for both my photography and collage work. I would like to say my work is becoming more political, I hope it will.
Have you ever been in love? If so, describe how it’s impacted your work. I am, my love inspires me daily, and has given me continual encouragement in my work. He’s (usually) willing to let me photograph him for my many projects and I love being able to work with him, it makes me feel deeply connected to the images we make together.
What’s something that bothers you about photography today? I think I have a lot against some conceptual work, only because I feel like I’ve seen a lot of the same concepts expressed in the same way. A lot of new photographers, many of them on Instagram, share a lot of the same ideas, which becomes repetitive. But, a great thing about copying and working in the style of others is that you learn how to create compelling images and what you like. I just wish new photographers wouldn’t be so concerned about following the trends from social media.
How would you describe your style? I’ve need wearing lots of thrift store finds, which are the best and a little worn, and it’s great not to be consuming so much fast fashion!
Something you’re learning. I’m continually learning how to work with other artists in collaboration and how to direct a shoot in the way that I want it to develop.
One last thing: Keep doing and learning. Don’t ever be afraid to photograph your passion, you’ll never be deeply in love with your images if you don’t make your own vision happen.
creativity… I often re-use pieces from my other works… basically collaging my
LAURA FILAS @lauralucy_f
THE ART OF THE SELF-PORTRAIT.
Who are you? I am a human, who thrives on creativity. That's the one thing that never changes about me. I love picking flowers, even weeds growing out of cracks in the sidewalk. I am fond of writing, I never go an hour without listening to music, I draw and paint a lot, I am a 70 year old at heart (besides the whole enjoying loud music thing), and I am in love with anything circa 1990 or earlier.
Where are you currently located? I am located in a suburban town outside of Chicago. I’ve lived here my entire life, so I guess I’ve just been stuck here; I haven’t thought twice about it. Living in the suburbs isn’t particularly inspiring to me, but the challenge of seeking beauty in what I have in front of my eyes is. You have to get creative (and do a lot of driving).
“I arrived at a resolution — I would do what I loved to do. I would create. I would turn it into a career.”
What do you consider the most important event of your life so far? There was a brief time in my life, a few years ago, when I began putting art on the back burner. At that point, I genuinely believed that all I had done in the past was a silly hobby, a waste of my fleeting time. After a few months of monotonous life, I realized I had constructed a void by refusing to create. I had deprived myself of what was actually the most important thing in my life. And with that, I arrived at a resolution — I would do what I loved to do. I would create. I would turn it into a career. I would work hard and relentlessly. That decision was part of one of the most critical moments for me. It's what brought me where I am today.
Why do you do what you do? I do what I do because I constantly crave to mold my daydreams, longings, and emotions into something tangible. Ever since I was young, I had an overactive imagination, but I could not stand maintaining anything in only my head. I’m a very visual person; and unfortunately, most of the time I need to see something to believe it. I might call myself a realist, but the definition doesn’t completely match me; I still have my imagination. And that’s where photography comes in, to fuse the gap. With a camera, I can make anything imagined real.
Shout-out someone else's work that deserves attention. My friend Joey takes some pretty rad photos and the world deserves to see them (@joey_amacker). What have you been thinking about too much lately? Oh gosh, I think too much about nearly everything. Lately, the weather has been occupying space in my head. Yes, nothing profound, just my childish frustration with what seems like an everlasting cold front. I've been thinking about how my already brief summer is being reduced to something even briefer. Ugh, the dissatisfaction is grand. How would you describe your everyday style? I'm most comfortable wearing lots of black, lots of denim, flatforms, mom jeans, and the occasional suede jacket. Basically, I'm tied up in a mix of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Have you ever been in love? If so, describe how it's impacted your work.
Name something you like about your work. Then, tell me an insecurity you have about your work. My favorite thing about the photos I take is that most of the time I am able to create what I had stored in my head: a feeling, a thought, an alternate world. This is when I am most satisfied with what I create. Something that I am working on overcoming is my insecurity in regards to working under pressure. The thought of only having one chance to capture a moment that is very important to someone is still daunting even with experience.
Well, I mean, sure I have. What impacts my work is falling in love with the moment I'm in, falling in love with the hidden beauty in my surroundings, falling in love with the feeling of the sun’s warm rays on my skin or the gentle flowers’ soft petals in my fingers. Basically, falling in love with being alive. All of this dictates my work. A huge reason why I take photos is to capture the entire experience of my falling in love. Can you remember a photograph that has stuck with you? Hmmm it would have to be a photograph I snapped at the beach. Lake Michigan is generally murky-looking even on the bluest of days; but, on this particular day, the water was the most beautiful turquoise hue, and the sky was as clear as could be. I tried to capture a portion of the lake that was not crowded; but instead, I photographed a cluster of people. It was an unintentional shot, but I brought home a vintage dream of a photograph with just the right pops of red. It's funny how things work out sometimes.
What are the challenges of shooting self-portraits? How do you combat them? The biggest challenge is that you cannot split into two. There has to be something or someone that resembles the position you want to photograph yourself in, so that you may properly adjust the camera based off of that position. The easiest way to do so is to bring a friend along and have him or her assume the position that you will while you man the camera. This isn't always possible, so I usually keep an extra tripod or chair in the car for that purpose. It's much harder to shoot self portraits with an object as a placeholder, rather than with a person.
How comfortable are you in front of the camera? Has self-portraiture helped with your confidence in front of the lense? Through self-portraiture, I must say that I am pretty comfortable with being in front of the camera, so much that it has even become an enjoyable experience for me. In addition to this, I understand what I'm looking for in a photographer based off of my own work.
How has being in front of the camera helped you behind it? It's a lot easier to come up with positions for your subjects to assume once you've been in front of the lens. It also gives you a better idea of what distracts the viewer from the subject within the photo. But, I think the greatest advantage of self-portraiture is that you feel more free to experiment with new ideas when you are the subject, rather than when a client or even a friend is. You don't have to try and please others, so that takes a lot of pressure off of your shoulders. You can then use whatever discoveries you make on your subject.
Advice for others looking to get better at self-portraiture? I think the most important thing I learned is to allot an appropriate amount of time for working, especially when you are beginning. Choose a location that is not too busy. If you are shooting alone, you do not want your camera to sit some distance away from you on a tripod in a heavily trafficked area. When you avoid the hustle and bustle of large crowds, it is also easier to get an undisrupted shot. Achieving great self-portraits, like anything, requires lots of practice. Don't be afraid to experiment. Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
One last thing:
I suppose I’d like to leave readers with some advice: it really doesn’t matter where you are located or what camera you use. The less you have at your disposal, the more creative you become. Do the best you can. Wind up in a deserted parking lot, brave the cold, make a police officer wonder if you’re alright (don’t actually do that, I was lying on the ground outside of a park for a photo, and he pulled over to see if I was okay; ‘twas quite uncomfortable), use what you have lying around in your home (or neighbor’s home). Most importantly, love what you are doing, and do it all with love. And, don’t forget my favorite idea of all: what you create does not define you as an artist; it only defines that particular point in time.
“Anytime you write something, you go through so many phases. You go through the
every once in a while you think, have set
PHOTOS BY PAIGE SMITH
JACKSON WILSON @jackdvnny
What do you do? I’d hate to be pretentious; but, in my mind, I’m capturing the emotion that hits people below the surface. Especially in portraits: you get to look at a single subject and pull them away from everything else in the world. You see a huge part of them that might otherwise be overlooked. You take the time to see what they believe and what they feel; it’s a very vulnerable state, and that’s what makes it a really beautiful thing. That feeling of being connected to someone without knowing them or feeling the pressure to respond.
Where are you currently located? Why are you there, and what inspires you about it? Right now, I’m based in my hometown of Highland, Utah. A mid-size, really wealthy area with a lot of good people. And, I guess, if you just looked at the outside, it’s a very bland area with bland people; but, I think that’s what keeps me interested — the fact that there’s a lot of walls to break down. You see all these seemingly perfect families; but, once you get past the surface, stuff there’s a lot of human emotions that hit people a little harder. And, artistically, there’s a lot to work with there. I’m not saying every family has really deep, emotional turmoil; but, because of the walls people put up you have to work hard to pull the deep emotions out. That’s a really intense journey that ends up being a very fulfilling one.
How would you describe your childhood in general? In general, I had a pretty good childhood. I live in a good area, and I have very good parents; but, I mean, everyone has skeletons in their closet, ya know? I grew up playing a lot of sports; and, even though it’s a very privileged life, there’s a lot of pressure attached to it. It’s kinda cliché, honestly, a very Emilio Estivez from “The Breakfast Club” situation. Everybody in my area wants to be perfect, and I wasn’t really an exception. I had an idea of what the people I loved wanted me to be, but it was pretty contradictory to what I wanted me to be. Luckily, I was eventually able to kind of break out of that, and I started doing my own thing; but, even today that pressure and anxiety exists.
Describe your work in a way you never have before. It’s tough to describe my work ‘cause I’m always so close to it I rarely get to look at it for the first time, ya know? Because, by the final product, you’ve seen it grow and change so many times it becomes a million descriptions to you; but, to the best of my abilities, I would describe it as: natural, intuitive, and full. But I guess I’m bias, hah.
Something you’re learning. I’m learning a lot about what it means to be yourself. I’ve had a lot of problems in the past with self-identity and confidence. In my mind, it’s always been about expressing creativity and living an interesting or extravagant lifestyle. But, lately it’s been more about accepting and internalizing the things around me to create a lifestyle where I feel happy and peaceful, but, at the same time, motivated. In my mind, you shouldn’t really be content or comfortable. I hate that; I’m not really interested in being content. That’s another thing I’m learning, that if you really want something, or if you’re motivated to be successful, it’s not a question of “When am I gonna be comfortable or content with my life?”, but more so about “When am I gonna be able to influence on a bigger level than I am now?”
Shout-out someone else’s work that deserves attention. @zachfrenchphotography. His ability to get texture and interesting color pallets in very stylistic photography is awesome. I should also shoutout his stylist/girlfriend or whatever, @audstylez; her eye is bomb. I’m gonna shout-out @imjordanrandall as well, not just ‘cause he got me this feature; but, he really showed me how important light and shape are, and his photos push me to do better. He also taught me to understand my camera more than I do, you know? Like, he’s on crop censor doin’ better work than the kids with top line stuff, and that’s what pushes the game to new levels.
How would you describe your everyday style? My style isn’t really anything extravagant. I have 7 pairs of black chinos/jeans, and I have a bunch of tees with either skate companies, shops I like, or like souvenir tees from places I like and wanna go to. But, style changes, you know? I could be rockin YEEZY Season 12 one day. I Iove people who dress crazy though; I wanna have my own line one day, and it’s definitely not anything that resembles what I dress like now. But, I like people who reach outside of their own style to create.
How did you grow into taking the pictures you’re taking today? I’ve always been more into the subject of portraits, but I started off taking landscapes. When I was 16, I got some pretty intense anxiety from some things that started weighing on me heavy, so I started running from it. Skipping practices, going on hikes — that’s when I started realizing that I needed to capture the amazing places I was going (This all happening around the time Instagram started to become integrated with photography). So, I grabbed my dad’s old Nikon and started getting some photos that, at the time, I thought were really good. I put em’ on Instagram and guys like @brolintaylor and @andrewtkearns started popping up. That’s when I started seeing more of the portrait side; and, I don’t know, I guess I just connected with the way it made me feel. At the beginning, it was just dragging my little brother out with me ‘cause getting someone to come model was terrifying. Then, I got a girlfriend, and she was into photos. From there, I just started getting more confidence and started asking more high end people; and, I guess through this whole thing, I continued to fall in love with the idea of getting that emotion I originally felt. Skipping practices and running away from all that anxiety and pressure — just felt good to have an outlet, ya know?
What’s something that bothers you about photography today? Right now, I’m frustrated at the rate which people are consuming art. Don’t get me wrong, there are positive things about being able to get your content out there at the current speed. However, we’re scrolling past genuinely compelling images, just double-tapping, and missing the little details that make it a good piece. Honestly, I don’t have too much to complain about though. We’re in a renaissance right now, and it’s something really beautiful. For the first time in decades, you can be whatever you want and be really successful. I understand people who feel like things are being ruined and art is dead, but I think it’s more just people being scared of change. Adapt, dude, and stop complaining. The game isn’t gonna change just because you think people aren’t appreciating your concepts. If you really feel that way, then just dedicate yourself to doing your own thing, and there will be subcultures that accept it. Just an opinion though; things are crazy, and nobody’s right these days.
â€œWeâ€™re scrolling past genuinely compelling images, just double-tapping and missing the little details that make it a good piece.â€?
How have your relationships influenced your art? Not a ton, honestly. For the most part, I keep the two separate. Now, that I’m thinking about the question, though, I’ve got strong feelings about the people in my life — I just haven’t let those feelings become a public thing. I think it’s ‘cause I don’t want to romanticize any of the problems I’ve had in my life. I see a lot of kids do that nowadays; they want feelings to be validated, so they toss them out on social media and see the reaction. It’s hard to blame them, though. Since this social media boom, every adult, parent, teacher, coach has talked about how “Kids only want to show their good side, and they’re not showing you the real things in their life.” So, now we’re aiming for real and we’re romanticizing depression, and lying about anxiety, creating what’s now an aesthetic, I guess, which can be so dangerous. I’m not trying to say anybody’s feelings aren’t valid; I just think that there are some things more sacred than what social media implies.
Can you remember a photograph that has stuck with you? There’s this photo for the U2 “War” album cover; and, it’s this kid with a G.I. Helmet on, and he’s got these insane eyes with these intense eyebrows. It’s black and white, and it was taken on film; but, it’s got insane clarity, like it was taken on digital. And, this kid, he just pulls this emotion out of you, where you feel all the intense guilt of war and chaos and all the bad stuff in the world; but, he also gives you this sense of triumph and contentment and real love. It’s just a really great contrast, both technically and emotionally; I love it. There’s also this photo of Cara Delevingne that has stuck with me for a while now, and it’s not a typical Cara photo, which is why I love it so much. It’s got very muted green and pink tones, and I’m pretty sure it was film; but, I’ve done a million hours of research on it, but I can’t find who the photographer was or where it was or anything. In the photo, she’s in this parking lot where there’s really strong fluorescent lighting and some really great big leafed bushes, and she’s in this sheer pink blouse with the wind pulling her hair. The emotion on her face gives you this feeling of loss, just like those low moments in your life that I think everyone can connect with. It’s the most underrated photo in my opinion. If you know who took it or what I’m talkin’ ‘bout hmu.
One last thing:
We’re in a renaissance right now. For the first time in decades, you can be whatever you want and be really successful. Take advantage of that. Cliché or whatever, follow your dreams, and make sure it happens because capitalism can be really beautiful; but, it’s hard work and a very long term game. That’s the thing I wanna say — that art is a years game; and, if you get frustrated, remember you have good taste and you belong here. Don’t stop creating just ‘cause you think you’re not connecting; because, the more you create, the better you’ll get, and the more people you’ll reach, and the more fulfilling your life will be. It’s not about the expectations of anybody else but your own. You have to believe in that — that you have something special to say, and you have a beautiful gift to express. Take a hold and stick to it.
PHOTO BY PAIGE SMITH
.. got pics? You can send submissions to email@example.com
Life is short,
live it well.
Featuring Maddy Welk, Jackson Wilson, Meghan Marin, Laura Filas, Alaina Bradshaw, Will Cornfield, and Paige Smith