“I’ve been an artist and a photographer since middle school. Throughout my art classes in high school and college, I realized that I had a gift of framing my subjects and creating balance in both my paintings and photographs.” says photographer Jess Pollock. Jess has an interesting creative advantage in the fact that he works in various mediums. The ability to not hold yourself back in other mediums vs how one usually does in photography is one that often clashes. But Jess has learned to make his photographs better through skills he learned in painting and vice versa.
“My artistic focus in painting has changed over the years; I used to do abstract impressionism, but have been getting into realism lately, especially nature and outer space.” explains Jess. “As for my photography, I’m always capturing nature (trees, mountains, lakes, oceans, etc.) and have, in the last few years, been incorporating people into my nature photos in a creative way.” Combine this with things like Jess’s love of outer space and the Lord of the Rings, and you’ve got quite a potent artistic mixture.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Jess: In 8th grade I had gotten my first point and shoot camera as a gift because my Dad was such a tech-savvy guy, he wanted us kids to be as well. (Which I am grateful for!) Since getting that small Nikon Cool Pix, the artist in me immediately went outside to shoot trees, rivers, and lakes. How else would you explore your new camera? I never took pictures of people, just nature. As time went on I began to fall in love with capturing nature. It was so fulfilling because I was capturing it from my own unique perspective. I got to choose how to frame the shot and the angle in which to present my subject. It was so fun for me and it still is to this day. When I have a free day to myself, I always go out adventuring into the wild. It’s a peaceful experience for me. I absolutely need those days.
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into creating double exposures?
Jess: I remember first learning about double exposures in my film photography class in high school, but I wasn’t interested in it then. I was too focused on learning about the processing of the film and trying to not mess that up. About two years ago, I was surfing through Facebook and saw a picture that a friend was tagged in, it was an incredibly beautiful double exposure of her with gorgeous flowers and a white background. I loved it and immediately started creating double exposures with my nature photos, and this is where I began taking photos of humans. I want to create ethereal beings in my photos and give the viewer a bit of magic. You can get really crazy and creative with double exposures – which is what I was reminded of.
Phoblographer: Double exposures for a lot of people are incredibly tough just technically speaking and trying to get the look of one thing inside the other with the white background fascinates them. But with some of your images you take it a step further and fully bend worlds together. Where does the inspiration for this type of stuff come from?
Jess: I do love the white background for double exposures, but I wanted to go beyond that and actually blend my pictures together to see what would become of it. And while I still create white background double exposures, I enjoy the freedom and artistic creativity that I have when looking at one of my photos and seeing what I can add to it to make it unlike any other photo I’ve taken.
Phoblographer: What do you feel you’re typically trying to creatively express through these creations?
Jess: I’m a fan of stories like Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter, because of the hope and magic those stories hold. Like when Tolkien describes Lothlórien in his books:
“Looking through an opening on the south side of the fleet Frodo saw all the valley of the Silverlode lying like a sea of fallow gold tossing gently in the breeze.” (LOTR Ch.6)
“It seemed to him that he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world. A light was upon it for which his language had no name. All that he saw was shapely, but the shapes seemed at once clear cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured for ever.” (LOTR Ch.6)
With those words you can only imagine such a heavenly place – I want to be an artist who finds the beauty in our world and visually creates that place. I want to create for the eyes the same as what Tolkien creates for the mind.
Phoblographer: You told us in your intro email that you used to paint. Has painting affected your photography? Has your photography gone on to affect your painting at all?
Jess: Definitely! I was a painter first before I received my first camera. My oldest brother and I are the artistic ones in our family of 8. I always remember watching him draw while we were growing up. He was very good and still is. We understand each other since we both have this gift of artistry. He inspired me to take up drawing/painting, and since I was drawn to the arts already, this was easy for me to get into. I started taking drawing/painting classes and learned about framing, depth of field, shadowing, angles, balance, etc. which has definitely shaped my eye as a photographer and vice versa. My painting has gotten much better as I’ve grown as a photographer.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use. Do you feel it helps you to put your creative vision forward in a better way?
Jess: I have a Canon Rebel T2i, but I don’t use that for daily work. I actually have been using the VSCO Camera app on my Iphone 5S in the last year. I am so happy with it and what magnificent shots it takes. I recently bought a wide angle lens and that’s been incredible to use. We have come a long way with phones in the last ten years, even the last few years, phones are definitely a great tool for artists. I am saving up for a new Nikon camera, but I’m thoroughly satisfied with the Iphone 5S. It really does help with my creative vision, because I always have my phone on me, wherever I am, whoever I see – I can take an amazing shot just with my phone.
Phoblographer: How much of this work is done in-camera vs Photoshop?
Jess: Most is done with Photoshop and other apps like Mextures and Enlight.
Phoblographer: What were some of the biggest mistakes and lessons that you’ve learned about creating double exposures along the way? Most people give up to do frustration towards the start of the journey
Jess: Trying to make my double exposures look like others and not allowing myself to be creative with my own unique double exposures.
Experiment with your camera or in Photoshop, see what becomes of your art. Blend pictures you never thought would go together. Erase parts of your picture. It’s okay to be frustrated, but let that be part of the process, not the end of it!