I was asked a series of questions by Digital Photo Pro back in 2008 and it really got me thinking about why I became a photographer/retoucher and what it is I want to achieve with my imagery.
Digital Photo Pro: Where are you from?
Jim Lind: I was born in the ‘burbs of Chicago but I moved to the small New England State of Vermont in an even smaller city called Rutland. It funny how often I find myself telling many ill-informed people that yes, Vermont is a state and no, it’s not located in Canada or New York.
DPP: What is your background like?
JL: I grew up in the most entrepreneurial homestead ever. My dad started two churches, my mom started her own life coaching business, my oldest brother helped develop a clothing line and launched a web design company, and my other older brother began his own movie production company. So naturally I was taught at young age to “do what you love and love what you do.” With these words of wisdom I latched on to drawing because I was fascinated with what I could create by hand. Some of my fondest memories involve me in my room drawing in my sketchbook to the wee hours of the night. In middle school and high school I joined every art club possible because simply put, I was hooked. I was ultimately drawn into photography with the popularization of the digital camera as it allowed me to better represent my thoughts that I couldn’t quite relate onto paper. It is integral in my current work that I was well trained in traditional art to become skilled in my new love of photography.
DPP: What got you started in photography?
JL: I got started into photography through my dad. He had an old 35mm Nikon that he would carry around everywhere. He had such a keen eye and a quick finger to capture moments that extended beyond the picture. A few years ago, when digital photography was starting to get popular we bought him a digital camera. Fortunately for me it spent most of its time unused, so I picked it up and have been hooked ever since.
DPP: Where did you go to school?
JL: I attended Savannah College of Art and Design in the beautiful city of (believe it or not) Savannah, Georgia and received a BFA in the competitive field of photography.
DPP: What was your education like?
JL: A number of artists there were not only talented at art but rather a collection of multimedia, writing, and business skills that integrate quite nicely with their art focus. SCAD is doing something right in that regards because it’s the only way you can make it in the professional world. I also made sure to surround myself with brilliant and creative minds alike. That way some of them rubs off on me and vice versa, since that’s the way art develops over time. Don’t be fooled that one person changes the course of history. More than likely he/she has a circle of intelligent friends who influence his/her decisions.
DPP: Who was your most inspiring professor?
JL: I was lucky to be taught by some very talented professors who never quite broke into the infamy of the photography business but are still making a name in the teaching realm. My professor and friend, Craig Stevens, has inspired me the most by challenging my previous outlook on photography. It takes a real professor like Craig to personally connect with his students, because that way he can cater his teaching style to each individual. It sure does aid to his character that he sounds and acts like comedian Lewis Black. Throughout his life, he’s been quite involved with his contemporaries like John Paul Caponigro, Jerry Uelsmann, Joel Peter Witkin, and the late Gary Winogrand.
DPP: Which photographers inspire you?
JL: While this is an extremely in-depth question, there are a few photographers right off the bat that directly inspires my work. The first being Diane Arbus. Whenever I look at her strange portraiture, I’m always left questioning the lives of the people in her photographs. She had such skill in blending the mystery with the familiarity. The London-New York duo, Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick, are also highly influential in my decision making as a photographer. Their work primarily deals with the fabrication of historical events. They’re extremely skilled in creating such fantastical images that only borderline insane individuals could make. Or maybe they are so comfortable with themselves that they allow their imagination to run freely without limitation.
DPP: What equipment do you use? Camera, lighting, anything miscellaneous?
JL: I keep it simple with a Canon DSLR kit, Macbook Pro, and a Wacom Tablet. I’m a big advocate for Adobe Photoshop and use it meticulously in many of my images. I consider Photoshop to be my digital darkroom and use it similar to the way I approach the wet darkroom. The most important piece of equipment I use is my eye – cheesy I know, but very true. I can’t imagine being as interested in photography without my eyes 🙂
DPP: Do you have any professional goals?
JL: I would say my goal is to never become mediocre or stagnant at what I do. I fear having a lot of skill sets and never mastering any of them. I’m really pushing myself to learn as much as possible about all aspects of art now (not just photography) so that I can apply it later in life.
DPP: What do you hope to do with your career?
JL: Essentially I hope to find myself so immersed in photography that I can’t tell the difference between what I do for a living and what I do for fun. That way my work will become truly personal that it will be able to inspire someone else to follow what they love. While I always tell myself that I want to own a photography studio, the truth is that I don’t care where I end up as long as I am doing what I love. Photography has many roads to take and lately I have been getting highly involved with photo compositing and retouching. But what’s exciting about photography is that it is constantly changing and adapting. In five years ask me again and I’m positive I’ll be excited about a different aspect of photography.
DPP: Anyone in particular that you hope to work for?
JL: It just so happens that the photographers Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick who inspire me are also two men that I aspire to work for. They are so immersed in what they do. For example, they fabricate stories and artifacts to legitimize the fictional events in history that they photograph. To me they are people who have blurred the line between a living and actually living.
DPP: What do you hope to accomplish with your imagery?
JL: I was recently talking with someone who used the words “fabricated narratives” to describe my work. It really got me thinking on what it is I wanted to say with my photography. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to tell stories of hope and mystery with my imagery. In many of my series I finesse the images to allow the viewer to feel a roller coaster of emotions as they travel from scene to scene. If I can attach a human characteristic such as emotion to an image than it becomes something more than just a neat looking picture. It becomes a tool to inspire others, which happens to be my ultimate goal in photography.
DPP: Thanks for your time Jim, we look forward to seeing what you do in the future!
JL: No problem, I’m curious too…