Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Early Inspiration: Joel Jensen

Temporary Curtain - Joel Jensen
Enginehouse - Joel Jensen
Santa Fe - Joel Jensen

After discovering the photography of Richard Steinheimer and O. Winston Link, I found the great work of Joel Jensen. I first saw Jensen's photography will flipping through the pages of a magazine that my grandparents had given me. I was just a young teenager who knew almost nothing about photography, but Jensen's images left a lasting impression on me.

The article was entitled Over The Limit and the suggestion was that perhaps Jensen's photography had gone too far. However, his photography had not gone too far--it simply went further than the other photographers published in the magazine.

Joel Jensen understood light and contrast like few others. He could capture the decisive moment. He could infuse his images with unspoken words. He could convey emotion. I didn't really understand those things at that time. What I understood is that I wanted my photographs to be much more like his than the other photographers that I saw.

Waiting Room - Joel Jensen
I had no idea how to do that. I was left frustrated and disappointed with my own photography. But I knew that what I wanted to photographically accomplish was possible because I remembered Jensen's images. So my first semester in college included a class in photography.

It has taken me a long time, but in the last few years I think I've reached a point where I can understand what Joel Jensen was doing. He had vision. He was creative. He made the photograph--it was his. He didn't snap pictures, he created art.

I have tried to incorporate those lessons into my own photography. Joel Jensen taught me several important things (even though it took me decades to learn them), and without that understanding my photography would be meaningless.

3751 Sunrise - Joel Jensen
Just as important as those lessons, Joel Jensen also inspired me to pursue photography further. He made me dissatisfied with what I was capturing. The hunger inside of me can be traced back to that article in that magazine all those years ago.

I am grateful for Jensen's photography. He inspired me to became better, and showed me that vision, creativity and the decisive moment are what matters most.

Joel Jensen remains relatively unknown in the photography world. He has been printed dozens of times in magazines, has had images in several different art exhibits, and he even has a couple of books published of his work. Yet most have never heard of him. That's too bad, because his photography is certainly significantly better than most.

Really, I can only hope to be half the photographer that he is.
Hallway - Joel Jensen

Blood on the Tracks - Joel Jensen

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