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Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Conversation with Jon Shireman

Jon Shireman is a master photographer.
I value knowledge of the history of photography and think every photographer should be well trained in the actual craft of photography. Even if in the end they choose to ignore all the rules and traditions. Few photographers I know are as well versed in photography as Jon. Fittingly I met Jon Shireman at Craig Cutler Studio many years ago, where I was able to see true knowledge of the medium at work.

Much of photographic culture is being lost in the digital age and sometimes it feels to me that I speak a language that is dying.
People coming to photography post the digital revolution, who never studied alternative & traditional processes; and the many facets & applications of photography, speak a different
language. And so the work of Jon Shireman is even more precious to me. Him and I can converse fluently in photography.

©Jon Shireman

NC: Tell us about yourself.

JS: I was born in suburban Chicago, your average middle class upbringing. I think it became obvious early on I was a bit of a black sheep in my family. My formal education in photography was minimal; I'm more astute at learning by doing. I started assisting early on in various Chicago catalog house or as I like to call them "sweat shops". It was a great way to learn the view camera and the basics of lighting. Once I moved to New York I was ready for refinement.

©Jon Shireman

NC: How did you discover photography?

JS: At a very young age I watched a documentary on PBS about a photographer whose name I don't recall. I remember being transfixed by the darkroom process. It was magical. Later on in college I had a professor who really opened my eyes to all the possibilities photography has to offer.

©Jon Shireman

NC: Where do you find inspiration?

JS: New York City is a major inspiration for me; I walk the city constantly. The people, architecture, trash, traffic, all have an effect on my creativity.

©Jon Shireman

NC: How do your projects come about?

JS: I have ideas that tend to coalesce over time. I envision these little bits and piece floating over my head, eventually they mix and match, combine and I have a new series of photographs. It's so satisfying to complete a project which can be in the works for years and to know it couldn't be any better because I've allowed the process to grow unfettered.

©Jon Shireman

NC: What's next?

JS: Asia, going to Hong Kong, Malaysia and Shanghai.

©Jon Shireman

NC: Thank you so much!

You can see more of Jon's work please visit his website: www.jonshireman.com.


Rona Chang said...

I'm so glad that Shireman is going back to Asia. When I first saw his Hong Kong photos my jaw dropped. His work is wonderful.

karen said...

Is this artist represented by a gallery?

nina said...

if you are interested in prints of Jon's work, please contact him directly via his website: www.jonshireman.com

Maggie May said...

oh wow. some of those photos really moved me. incredible imagery and emotion.

Joe Gayle said...

I think Jon was greatly inspired by his older brother. He's was a great photographer on a very local scale.