Dewitt Jones Seminar
I attended a short one-day seminar by Dewitt Jones last Saturday. For those not familiar, he is a photographer whose work dates back to the 80s and maybe earlier. He was a freelance photographer for National Geographic for many years, did a stint in advertising, and then switched to teaching and writing. These days he also does a fair bit of book writing and corporate speaking (inspirational key note addresses, etc.). He may be best known for his column from Outdoor Photographer magazine that has been running for many years. I can remember subscribing to that magazine back in the film days of the late 80s and early 90s and avidly reading his column. He was one of the refreshing few who didn’t dwell on the technical side, but talked more about creativity and vision. He’s a part-time resident of Hawai’i, living on Molokai and running a few workshops there during the winter and spring months.
A one-day seminar/workshop is just enough to give you some inspiration, and I enjoyed his presentation and Q&A. He showed a lot of his work, beginning with the early N.G. stuff and progressing through his ad work up to the present. His most interesting stuff (to me) was when he switched to teaching and writing for making his living. It looks (and sounds) as though that’s when be began to experiment a lot more. He got in to polaroids, and infrared, and all manner of digital, including small sensor work. He finished with a section on the iphone. He’s a big fan, and makes lots of images with it. He’s a dynamic speaker with a well-polished presentation (perhaps just a bit too polished). He interspersed the slide shows with Q&A sessions, and he comes off as truly loving the times we are living in for image making. All in all I have to agree, since I also don’t put bread on the table by selling images either!
We finished the day with a critique session, and for my image he took at look at Self-Portrait, Kalapana, which the gallery owner had kindly printed for me at 16×16 in (40.64 cm square). The print was nicely done–I hadn’t seen it before it went up on the easel. He liked the print and had some nice things to say about it. Perhaps the most interesting thing for me was that he liked the “playful” style of the the photograph. To me, that sums up my style pretty accurately. I feel that I have a playful eye and that is what I try to get across in most of my photographs. Photography can be so vernacular that “serious” photographers often try to steer away from a playful style, yet there have been some that embraced the approach and did it well and successfully, such as William Wegman.
Great fun to spend a day having a conversion about photography.