One of my passions has always been photography. I always wished that I had learned more about it or taken classes while in college. I dabble with different effects and have tried some of the apps available on my iPhone but I certainly am not a pro. However, the different processes, apps and techniques that photographers use have always fascinated me and I must say that I am always thrilled to interview and learn from any that I am lucky enough to meet. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to meet quite a number since becoming a member of The Art and Artists of 614 and getting connected with the artists of Art Party.
That’s how Jim Parker and I first met. We had ‘spoken’ over the internet several times before actually meeting. We eventually met in person at the Fear Hundred event at 400 Franklinton in October 2013 where we shared a booth selling our wares at the vendor portion of the show. Although I had seen postings of his photographs on FB, I was pleased to see his work up close and personal. After that evening and getting to know each other a little better, we finally connected for an interview.
Party of One
Jim’s “regular job” is in IT working on them since the late 70’s and turning that into a career in the 80’s, when they were somewhat smaller than a room! Jim attended college briefly in the early 80’s, working on a degree in aerospace engineering with minors in math and physics (wow!). Part way through his second year, he decided to drastically change his life plan, dropped out of college and went in a completely different direction. Consequently, he never finished his degree but now works as a system architect and engineer at a large telecom company…working in a field about as diametrically opposed to art and photography as possible!
His business, james r parker photography (website and Facebook page, not brick and mortar studio), has been around for about 2 years but he got hooked taking pictures when he was a child of around 6 or 8 years old growing up in Ohio. Since then, he has shot on most consumer formats, from very old-style film to 110 cartridges to Polaroid and 35mm and now digital. In the late 80’s, he became somewhat serious about his experimentation, grabbing onto using 1600 speed film almost as soon as Fuji came out with theirs (he was a big fan of Fuji film when shooting 35mm) and doing low-light and multiple flash-exposure work. Learning by doing is how his photographic skills and style developed.
When asked how he would categorize his art, he stated:
Photo-based is the best way I can put it. It’s not digital art in that it’s not something I sit down and create on a Wacom (graphics tablets and related products) and it’s not what most people think of as photography in that I don’t do heavy composites and alterations with the goal being to pass something off as a “photo”. I take a digital picture and make changes that enhance the image, but not to change the people dramatically. I don’t alter their appearance to make them perfect as so many photographers do. The people you see in my work, you would recognize on the street. I want to convey a mood or a feeling, even if it’s just a feeling of fun, like with my pinup work. Though I often work from an idea I had when I shot the piece, I go where the shot takes me when I sit down to edit. I’ve trashed pieces and completely redone them simply because I suddenly saw it in a different way and ran with it.
Jim is inspired by just about anything. He’s done landscapes and room interiors that he thought were beautiful or that conveyed a certain feeling. However, he tends to shoot a lot of people…getting them to be themselves, to let go, take a chance and just show their true selves is amazingly satisfying for him. He feels that some of his best work has been created because he managed to capture a moment of the subject showing the world something they had always wanted to let out but were afraid to.
Over the years, Jim states that his style has changed several times, finally reaching today’s work. When he was starting out as a kid, he shot what anyone else did: friends, family, snapshots of neighbors, that sort of thing. When he got into 35mm photography, he began experimentation, hence the use of low-light photography, multiple exposures, creation of light and color trails because he wanted to create things other people weren’t and take his photography to a different level. When moving seriously into digital photography (after dabbling in it after getting his first 1.3 megapixel Olympus around early 2000), he shifted almost entirely to an editorial style. Then for quite a number of years everything shot had to show exactly what was in the frame at the time the shutter release was pushed. Editing took a lot of time and trouble in order to get the colors correct, the lighting, etc. Sometime around early 2012, he upgraded his camera, his creativity start to flow and he purchased a Wacom digital tablet. This enabled him to better work on his shots while teaching himself artistic editing techniques that he still uses.
That coincided with going back to shooting more people (something he had done a fair amount of during his 35mm experimentation days), taking him to the type of photography he does now. Shooting people, particularly women, in the nude has always been a genre he wanted to attempt because he was always fascinated by the artistic use of the human body. It was an area he was hesitant to move into until he felt his skills were at the appropriate level. By chance, he worked with a model that was willing to do nudes, allowing him to experiment. The results were gratifying and instantly married his love of photographic artistry and the human form. Since then he has done quite a bit of nude work, some of which is posted on his web site. Recently he has used a technique that allows posting that work to his Facebook page, creating chalk- and paintbrush-like strokes across the shot in the appropriate places, giving a much better sense of what the shot truly looks like.
Jim’s work is for sale wherever it’s displayed; a permanent spot in Zanesville at The Artist Collective, or somewhere around Columbus, be it a gallery show like MadLab or a coffee shop like The Crimson Cup. He also has two major events coming up:
The Erotic Show (The Artist Collective, February 7 2014) -This show explores erotica in different forms and formats, with each of the 50 artists involved displaying a single piece that gives their view of erotica. This year he was asked to be on the entrant judging committee with members trying to get the artists to push to new areas and really explore what erotica meant to them. His piece will be something very different for anyone who’s been following his work so you better attend the show to check it out!
Dark Love (Strongwater, at 400 West Rich, February 14 2014) This show will showcase artists’ interpretation of love from a different view, a darker edge. Jim will have 3 pieces showing here.
He has also had a shot featured in the Tiffen newsletter in mid-2013 and had a short feature piece in the Winter issue of OP&M Magazine, a place for Ohio photographers, models, stylist, and designers to shine and showcase their talents, where his work has regularly been featured since the Halloween edition.
Because he didn’t get really serious about his art until he was almost 50, he believes that it’s never too late to get started and follow your passion. His art is now the thread that runs through everything he does in his life.
Contact info for readers:
** By the way, his Facebook is the most up-to-date, though to find his adult work you’ll need to check his website or Tumblr feed.