Lone Tree in Snow
Excerpt from Not About the F-Stop:
I was in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, working on a piece on Herman Melville for the now-defunct Show magazine. I had an appointment at the local library to photograph the original logbook he had signed.
I left my hotel and started driving. There had been snow and the drive was beautiful. I saw this scene and said to myself, “That’s great, but I have an appointment. I’ll come back later and shoot it.”
The small voice that takes over in my head said, “Do it now,” so I stopped, got out of the car, and shot this image. When I was finished at the library, I drove immediately back to the snow location. There was no snow anywhere, at all. Zip. Nada. There was no longer any photo.
I’m reminded of the quote, “You can’t step in the same river twice,” and ever since then I have been telling students, “Never go back.” They are confused, so I explain that I mean you have to shoot it now. If you go back, it will never be the same. It may be better, it may be worse, but never the same. It can be extremely valuable to return to something again and again to try different light, different viewpoints, and different attitudes, but always shoot first, then think about the future.
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-Sublimination 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...