Blue Sky, Yellow Field
This is one of these pictures that really needs no explanation. So I’ll give you one.
I’ll put it in context.
I had an assignment to photograph Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve. This place is so aptly named that some of the first astronauts were sent there to experience it to prepare them for the moon itself. There is no color there. Everything is gray and if you look very closely you might see colored lichen, but the overall feeling is gray, gray, gray.
I got there early, and watched the light change all day. I was overcome by the bleakness of it and stayed till it closed up. I always thought it was weird that a national monument would close at 6:00. But nothing surprises me with rules and regulations anymore.
I left grumbling to Gabe, my assistant. Gabe was a Honduran Indian, quiet, totally dependable, and mischievous. As we left Craters of the Moon, we turned onto the main road and this image is what I immediately saw.
“Oh my god, color!”
I grabbed my camera, ran across the street, and started shooting. Gabe, usually right beside me, ready with the lenses and cameras, was sitting in the car. (By the way, Gabe could not pronounce Jay so he called me Hay.)
Gabe was always was at my side, so I wondered why he was sitting in the car with a slight smile on his face. This was therapy, beautiful color after 10 hours of gray, I was now really happy. He looked at me as I was shooting, “Hey! Hay! Don’t get too excited. You’re on your last roll of film.”
Note: I had a large 40x60" dye transfer of this in my gallery. Some guy came over, looked at me, and said, “I know exactly where that is.” I said, “Bulls#[†, you don’t even know what state it’s in.” He looks at me and says, “Idaho, right outside Craters of the Moon.” He made me feel like the presumptuous a$$hole I sometimes am. He made me feel better when he said, “I’m buying that print.” And even better when he actually did.
From the Favorites collection
What constitutes a favorite is that after seeing it every day for years, it doesn’t lose its power.
I know some photographers who are always quite delighted with everything they do. I wish I was like that, but I find a great many of my images lose their power or at least my interest at some later date. Either I’m not interested in the subject anymore or I’m just no longer impressed with the image.
Arthur Meyerson, a very good Houston, Texas, photographer, is a buddy of mine. At one point he offered me his studio for an exhibit of my images for FotoFest in Houston. This was an exhibit of 85 images. Another friend of mine, Gary Winter, was doing a video on me. He’s one of these guys who doesn’t intrude when he’s shooting—a real “fly on the wall” type—so when he asks a question, it’s a rare occurrence.
“So, Jay,” he said, “What’s the reason you picked these particular 85 pictures for this show?”
“They’re my favorites.”
“I was hoping for something a little more insightful and articulate, ” he replied.
I thought about it and realized after looking at one particular image what was behind my choices. I explained that when I shot “Man with Headband,” I was anxious, even terrified because I knew all the things that could go wrong. It was like a litany: “Please don’t let the light change,” Please don’t let somebody walk in front of him,” “Please don’t let him turn around.” I realized at that point that each and every picture in the show was a variation of this. A moment charged with all the things that move me, and the fear of losing it. The apprehension, the near certainty that something or someone, if not myself, was going to compromise the image.
There is an emotional seesaw on perceiving what you think is a great image. It moves between glee and trepidation. The more excited I am, the better the image, the more naked emotion I feel, the more exhilaration there is, the more it is counterbalanced by the certainty that something is going to f*¢% this up.
This anxiety never happens with pictures that are less compelling or less emotional. It never happens with pictures that are intellectually motivated or studies, or with pictures that are about information, history, or pure documentation.
These favorites have stood the test of time, even though they’re mine they still work for me, and I do love them.
Paper & Printing
Epson Ultra Premium Luster (13x19)
This paper produces vivid, lifelike images, superior ink coverage, and a high D-Max to ensure high reproduction quality prints. More about the paper...
For shipping , it's placed on backing board inside a clear plastic bag. They are then boxed in a custom 15x21x3 corrugated box protected inside 3 inches of charcoal foam. More about shipping...
Epson Legacy Baryta (20x30 and 40x60)
Baryta paper has a white, smooth satin finish with the look and feel of the revered silver halide F-surface darkroom papers and provides excellent image permanence. More about the paper...
20x30 prints are shipped flat in MasterPak PrintPak Art Shipping Sleeves. A "container within a container" with multiple layers of protection.
Dye-Sublimation onto Aluminum (Metal)
Transferring the print to aluminum produces a vivid, archival quality print that is scratch resistant, doesn’t require glass or framing, and is lightweight and easy to hang. More about the paper...
Metal prints are shipped in a sturdy 44x63x3 crate. More about shipping...