Santa Cruz Photographer

Today, I want to talk to you about being a photographer in Santa Cruz, being a Santa Cruz photographer, why I love it what’s so great about it what I want to do with it. For one thing, it’s an incredibly beautiful place. I remember when I used to paint more than I photographed, and now I photograph more than I paint, it was always a little bit frustrating to me because there’s not as much of an appreciation for painting (although, that may have changed, and maybe it was just my painting), and I always felt that because it is such a beautiful place people have more of an admiration for the actual landscape than for someone who is painting, especially abstract painting. It’s kind of parochial, and by that I mean small-town vibish, in terms of the kind of art that people seem to like here. So illustration goes over well, basically you have to have some sort of demonstrable skill, but I always thought that.. you know, abstract art happened a long time ago. Duchamp’s great experiment with the readymade was over a hundred years ago, it was in 1917. And having a love for contemporary art, I always saw Picasso’s route as the way to go. You show early that you can paint realistically, and then you seize all of that freedom to do what you want to do with paint. But, you have to be in the right market for that. And maybe that has changed now, I think it’s an interesting question and an interesting time, but I still like the idea that art no matter what it is, should be free. There should be an element of freedom in that. So, there is no right way to do it, is what I’m saying. But this is a place that has so much physical beauty and, being a Santa Cruz photographer, you are so lucky, because you get to experience these amazing vistas, and you get to photograph people with these incredible back-drops and you get to know the landscape itself. That’s a part of your job: both photographing the landscape and scouting the landscape to see what would make a great background for a portrait. Just to give you some of my background, I did a BFA in painting at Lewis and Clark College from 94-99, I moved down to San Diego started working down there and got into a graduate program in Literature, but moved back to Santa Cruz and entered the PhD program in Literature, which I did from 2003/4 to 2010/11. It was a seven-year process and that was what they called normative time for a PhD completion in that program. What I got into the program writing about thinking about working on was how the digital age was changing our culture so that both image and text were going to be more equally important to culture than they ever had been before. Now, I think that that still is true, but the pendulum has probably swung to a certain degree so that images are actually more important at this point in time. I believe that there will be a return to the printed word, and journalism will reemerge in some form even though now it seems to be limping and wounded and anemic and weak. I think that we will find a way to bring it back and in this current system we have to economically find a way where people can make money through writing and right now that’s really tough and economics are extremely important in everyone’s lives and they shape a lot about our culture. They shape a lot about our mindset. It’s like Mark Twain’s famous essay on Corn Pone Opinions how what you think is really shaped by who’s giving you the food that you eat. It’s very difficult to overcome that or get around that. And that’s kind of almost just if not a fact of life it’s a very strong tendency of how we live. And, that also explains part of why I got into photography. There were economic considerations. For one thing, I was an adamant thinker arguing on behalf of painting, but in 2003-7 that was very difficult to defend. At a certain point, I had to decide whether I was going to finish the program or just be a painter. There’s this painter in Santa Cruz who is homeless and just walks around and paints…

You can listen to the rest of the story, HERE: https://anchor.fm/jake-j-thomas/episodes/Santa-Cruz-Photographer-e3r3hn

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