Rfotofolio is please to share the work and words of photographer Jim Sincock.
Would you please tell us about yourself?
I grew up in Wisconsin and recently moved back after nearly 20 years of living in Colorado. I started my career in photography in the late 1980’s after art school first as a portrait photographer, and then quickly moved on to commercial product photography. I had also done some custom black & white printing for other photographers, both on my own and at commercial photo labs. I’ve always done my art photography and exhibited some in the 80’s and 90’s, but really only began focusing on my art 100% in 2012. Selling at fine art festivals has been my main focus, but I’ve also had my work in several exhibits, and have won a couple awards for my photography.
How did you get started photography?
I think the interest really began when I was really young and would look through a shoebox full of old photos that my grandmother had. I was fascinated with the look of old tintypes and images from old Brownie style cameras with their strange focus, blurs and light leaks. Up until junior high I was mainly into drawing and painting, but when I got a camera for my birthday one year, that changed my focus. After high school my dad learned about the Milwaukee Center for Photography, which is where I ended up getting my education.
Which photographers and other artist work do admire?
I admire a lot of photographers and artist, but Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Man Ray, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, and Sally Mann are a few photographers. Other artists include Anselm Kiefer, Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Goldsworthy . . . .
And what about their work inspires you?
It varies with each, but I’d say each of the artists I mentioned show a sense of passion for their creative vision which, to me, shows through in their art.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed withyou overtime?
There are several images which have stuck with me over time, but the one that is coming up for me at the moment is “Criss-Crossed Conveyers” by the painter and photographer Charles Sheeler. For me, the graphic composition of the gritty industrial landscape almost takes you away from what the reality of the scene actually is.
Please tell us about your Wet Plate work.
The look and feel of wet plate images have always fascinated me. From the tintypes I saw as a child, to images I learned about in photo history classes. For a while I used the old Polaroid Type 55 Pos/Neg film with some chemical staining to give me a somewhat similar feel. I also made dry plate glass negatives using liquid emulsion. Then a few years back I learned people were still doing the traditional wet plate process and I moved in that direction.
My still life work is like old dreams or memories, and the look and feel of wet plate helps to convey that story. It is similar for my landscape work as it conveys a certain dream-like feel I choose to portray in some of that work, although sometimes I prefer a crisp clean image shot on large format film.
What challenges do you face as a photographer?
I think that getting the proper exposure for my work is one main challenge, which also ties into where the art market is financially in this economy. I definitely find that there are more art buyers at the art festivals I sell at, then there are at gallery exhibits I’ve been in. But even at the art festivals, the seasoned pros often say how the market is nothing like it used to be.
Would you tell us about your workspace?
Well, my wife and I just moved back to Wisconsin and I’ve yet to set up a workspace, but my last studio was a tiny studio which I built in our backyard. It was a great little space at around 104 s.f., with a tiny darkroom for wet plate, film processing, and for making smaller salt and cyanotype prints. It worked quite well for my still life work, or even head & shoulders portraits. But once I started framing prints for art fairs, it got a little too small. In the past I’ve had studios from 600 to 2400 s.f. with full B&W darkrooms. My ideal workspace is one where I can have a few shots set up at anytime, a full darkroom, and plenty of space for matting framing. And great natural light is also a plus.
How did you come to build your camera?
I recently built an 8×10 sliding box camera for my wet plate work, which is based on Alan Greene’s design in his book, Primitive Photography. I had been shooting 1/4 plate size, but wanted something a little bigger for some of my tintypes. The used 8×10 cameras I was finding were over-priced, so I decided to make my own. Before getting Greene’s book I made a couple prototypes. The first one was made from a cardboard box, with a Leitz copy lens stuck on a sliding front piece. Pretty funny, actually! I shot paper negatives in it and it actually worked. The next one was made out of black foam core and was more of a sliding box camera style. The film holder was also made from foam core and black mat board, so it was only used with paper negatives. It is a fun process to make your own camera. I think it is a great way to get a better understanding of the technical aspects of photography.
How do you overcome a creative block?
With my landscape work, sometimes it is just a matter of sitting in nature, just observing, and not really having a goal. With my still life work a lot of times just playing with lighting and different objects on the set can help. Other times I just need to set it all aside and to come back to my photography another day.
How important is it to your art form to have a “creative community”?
It is probably more important to me than my art form. The work I do is very much a solitary process, and I’m a bit of an introvert, so it is good to have some type of creative community to be able to connect with from time to time.
How does your art affect the way you see the world?
It helps me to slow down, see things more deeply, and to be more aware of the world around me. Working on my still life images also allows me to express a surreal dreamworld and take a step back from the real world.
Where can we see your work, and would you like to share any upcoming projects?
I recently received a fellowship award from the Racine Art Museum, and will be spending much of 2014 working on a new series for my exhibition at the museum in the late summer of 2015. I also moved into a new photo studio space in Racine, Wisconsin which is in a historic factory building which is home to over forty other artists, and many types of small businesses and manufacturers. One new series of images will based on the old building and other old factories in the area.
Thank you, Jim for sharing your work, we look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.
To learn more about Jim Sincock please visit his site. Jim Sincock Photography
To learn more about the book Primitive Photography by Alan Greene please visit Primitive Photography
To learn more about the photograph Criss-Crossed Conveyers by the Charles Sheeler, please visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Thank you to the photographers that share their work with us.