Today we feature the work of photographer Jim Messer.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up on a farm in Western New York, close to Lake Erie. Immersion in the world of crop fields, woods, creeks, domestic and wild animals, along with the state’s grand vistas of mountains and lakes has contributed to my enduring love of the natural world.
Where did you get your photographic training?
I’m essentially self-taught, and have also done workshops with William Neill, Lewis Kemper, George DeWolfe, Charles Cramer. and Rich Seiling.
Why do you photograph?
Photography provides an opportunity to create and share images that, hopefully, communicate the deep sense of beauty and peace I’ve been so fortunate to experience. Additionally, the process of craft mastery involved is challenging, energizing, and ongoing.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
Influencers continue to this day! Early on it was Ansel Adams, William Neill and Charles Cramer. Later came Edward and Brett Weston. More recently it has been Susan Burnstine, Mary Ellen Bartley, Douglas Etheridge, Minor White, Robert Demachy, and Leonard Missone. I’m also moved by the paintings of Monet, J.M.W. Turner, and Andrew Wyeth. Currently, a close association with the Center For Photographic Art (CPA) and Imagemakers of Monterey allows me to regularly experience a variety of inspirational work from some wonderful photographers.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
“Trees In Fog, Wawona Road, Yosemite” by Charles Cramer. I stepped into the cafe at Kepler’s Book Store in Menlo Park, California, saw this image, and was transfixed! I realized in that moment just how impactful a quiet image can be, and resolved to produce work that is peaceful and moving.
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
This is a “look behind you” image made at the Valley View pullout in Yosemite Valley. I was waiting to photograph the same iconic image done by many other photographers, when I happened to look behind me and saw this spectacular scene. The lesson is to be alert and look around. Sometimes the best images are behind you.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
A good day in the field occurs when I am moved by what I’m seeing and am able to capture that special scene. Another good day happens when I’m post processing images and everything comes together resulting in an exceptionally good print.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?
Probably Brett Weston. He had an amazing eye and a remarkable ability to cull an abstract image from the chaos around him. I’m also struck by the pictorial work of Leonard Missone.
What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?
Overall I’d say that the 4×5 view camera, used when I first started photographing landscapes, taught me how to approach making an image, how to slow down and study a scene. Later when I switched to a DSLR, the discipline that I leaned from the view camera stayed with me. Now I’m photographing using a Fuji system. I’m using the soft focus features of that system to produce the style of work I’m currently doing.
Whats hangs on your walls?
A melange of work, some mine, some from other photographers, and some abstract paintings that we’ve collected over the years.
What is on the horizon?
I’m continuing to work on images that are pictorial in nature. I’ve been strongly drawn to the work of pictorial photographers, and am very interested in producing work that has a vintage character to it. While much of my present work is still grounded in nature, I’m slowly introducing a human element as well. I continue to look for new ways of creating and sharing images of scenes and/or moments that have moved me.
Thank you JIm. To learn more about the work of Jim Messer please visit his site at Jim Messer.