Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Elsa Hart

Posted in art, black and white, photography, technique by Jason Gray on January 2, 2015


I just finished a portrait session with mystery author, Elsa Hart. The images were produced as author photos for her upcoming, first novel. This genre of headshot has many variables that you might not at first consider. For instance, there are similarities for author photographs that are true for virtually all writing specialties (ie. romance writers smile playfully in theirs, while horror writers tend to look a little foreboding). What’s more, tastes tend to change dramatically through the years, with black and white images going in and out of style, and posing techniques ranging from highly apparent to nonexistent.

For Elsa’s portraits, we agreed to maintain a somewhat serious tone that compliments her genre of storytelling and provides her with a sense of authority. In this case, the lighting was simple, spanning from diffuse sunlight provided by an overcast sky to a single speedlight (bare or with a honeycomb filter) for when more contrast is needed. For lenses, I used only the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G or the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D. The images are simple, straightforward, and required very little direction on my behalf. It is daunting to imagine these photographs as some readers’ first introduction to the author, but I think that they accomplish exactly what our aims were.


Where Suburbia and Rural America Collide

Posted in art, photography by Jason Gray on December 28, 2014


Over the Christmas holiday, my family and I visited my mother-in-law in Springfield, Illinois. This state capital never ceases to disappointment me visually, as for whatever reason, I am extremely attracted to the landscape of this area. The architecture here is a mixture of early 20th century grandiosity (and eventual decay), suburban sprawl, and rural utilitarianism. I find this conjunction of forms fascinating, and I have slowly been building up a body of work on this place. Earlier visits can be found here.


Historic St. Louis Metropolitan Police Headquarters

Posted in art, photography by Jason Gray on December 17, 2014


A friend who writes about architecture for St. Louis Magazine invited me along on a tour of the historic St. Louis Metropolitan Police Headquarters, which was abandoned for a newer facility earlier this year. I will skip including information on the history of the building, and instead refer you to Chris’ article here, which includes many of my images. In this post, I will include my favorite photographs from the visit to the building where three generations of my family have served as policemen.


My Best of 2014

Posted in art, family, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on December 6, 2014


from The Darkness, a haunted house attraction in STL

2014 has been quite the busy year. In February, I curated an exhibition of work by artist, Anna Kuperberg at the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum. This was the first of three exhibitions that I would curate for the Museum in 2014, and the first of four that I would install there. Also in February, Photo Flood Saint Louis, my photography organization, covered the 250th anniversary of St. Louis through its partnership with stl250. This included three full days of celebrations!

In March, IPHF unveiled my next show, St. Louis Shoots: Contemporary Street Photographers from St. Louis, which ALIVE Magazine declared one of the “10 Art Exhibits to Visit in St. Louis This Month”. Also in March, the Missouri Arts Council featured this blog in an article titled, Snapshots of the Missouri Arts Blogosphere. In June, I was hired by the Museum as their Director of Exhibitions and Facilities, where I installed the well-received Portrait/Process exhibition.


Eric Greitens Dual Event

Posted in 35mm, art, black and white, photography by Jason Gray on December 4, 2014

Eric Greitens: Strength and Compassion is an exhibition that I co-curated, designed and installed at the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum (pics coming soon). The exhibit will remain on display through January 25, 2015.

If you can make it, please come visit me and meet the photographer at the event below.


Nikon D200- The Camera that Time Forgot?

Posted in photography, technique by Jason Gray on November 11, 2014


Earlier this year, the camera that I have been using as a back-up (Nikon D50) finally died, and although I was planning to give it to my wife, I still needed something in the bag as a back-up for the occasional event photography that I still do. At the time, I was faced with a real dilemma; do I make my D300 a back-up by upgrading to full-frame (size, cost and pixels that I don’t currently need) or by downgrading (in all but image quality) to a D7100? How much event photography was I really planning to do moving forward with my current full-time job at the Museum? I decided on a stopgap approach; I bought a used Nikon D200.


College For Kids, part 2

Posted in art, learning, photography, technique by Jason Gray on September 14, 2014


In addition to Alternative Photography, I taught two other classes: Funography and The Photographic Series. Funography demonstrated simple techniques for manipulating images as they are being shot (versus in post-processing), while The Photographic Series illustrated the rationale for sequencing photographs in order to strengthen an idea or storytelling. For the Funography class, the students experimented with using flashlights, prisms, magnifying glasses, sunglass lenses, colored gels, paper bags, plastic cups, and more to create photographic effects. In The Photographic Series, students created a ten-image series for each of the following, documentary series, thematic series, and serial imagery series. Historic and contemporary precedents were shown to both classes.

It was a monumental task to accomplish everything in only a week, but we did it!

Images after the jump–> (more…)

College For Kids, part 1

Posted in art, black and white, film, learning, photography, science, technique by Jason Gray on August 24, 2014


For two weeks at the beginning of August, St. Louis Community College at Meramec was transformed into the College for Kids. Offering K-8 classes for gifted students, the courses ranged dramatically from chess instruction to animal demonstrations. As far as I could tell, I was the only educator representing photography this year, which explained the roughly 64 kids that came through my classroom. My three classes were Alternative Photography (1st week), Funography (2nd week), and The Photographic Series (2nd week). The experience was completely exhausting, but fun nonetheless.

Results after the jump–> (more…)

Never Enough

Posted in 35mm, art, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on June 28, 2014

Darren Bader_Never_Enough

installation view of Darren Bader’s work (including my photo) in the Dallas Museum of Art exhibition, Never Enough: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Art

Recently, I was contacted by the Dallas Museum of Art to make a photograph using directions provided by the artist, Darren Bader, for inclusion in an exhibition at the Museum. The artist, who frequently employs work by collaborators for use in his installations, assigned me the goal of photographing “oil with/and Mohel” (an example of his rhyming pair juxtapositions). Subsequently, the DMA coordinated with the Saint Louis Art Museum to allow me to photograph a local Mohel in their galleries, next to an oil painting. You can see that image, and the DMA’s description of the exhibition after the jump.



Posted in art, perception, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on June 20, 2014


Godard 1-4

For nearly two hundred years, culture has taught us to accept photographs as truthful vestiges of events that have occurred, and we have been conditioned to ignore the manners in which that truth is manipulated by both the photographer and the camera. In the digital era, our faith in the photo document is no less, despite the many additional ways that images are altered (ranging from a conscious event like post-processing to the unintended problems inherent to having the digital sensor emulate analog film).

Telegenic is a series exploring the manipulation and dispersion of digital media via light-emitting displays, and the ways in which digital capture fails to fully communicate screen-originated imagery.

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