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

Does a parasite know that it’s a parasite?

All works in series are untitled.

One of photography’s inherit and unique properties is its ability to harness the duality of believability and obfuscation. This alone makes it unique among the arts, which are otherwise only capable of presentation (versus representation). Even a painter that works directly from a subject in front of them creates a product that is understood as an interpretation–an amalgamation of paint, canvas and the artist’s technical ability. We see these things first, before we are able to relate ourselves and to “experience” the subject. In photography, however, the viewer almost always accepts what they see first because the photograph is a recording of something in front of the camera and because photographs, for more than a century, have been both the currency and language of history. That said, a photograph has at least as much potential to lie to the viewer as any of the plastic arts. When the photographer frames, they carve away from reality and begin to manipulate what they see for their own aims. These are not light decisions and they form the basis for this body of my work.

Though all of the images in this series are “straight” photographs, many of them play with the viewer’s understanding of what they see. A photograph of a seemingly serene scene may in fact have been photographed on the edge of a toxic waste dump, a photograph of something that looks like a perversion of nature may in fact be an image of mitigation efforts meant to protect or preserve it, etc. The viewer is encouraged to explore each image individually and interpret for themselves what impact they see.


Mound City Chronicle

STL250 Celebration, from the roof of Saint Louis Art Museum, 2014.

Since moving back to St. Louis (my birthplace) in 2009, my creative focus has been the city itself. I photographed to reorient myself with a place I’d lost familiarity with in an effort to find myself somewhere within it. Over time, this exploration matured into a cohesive body of work that is a testament to this search, but also a chronicle of the forces of change that are ever present in St. Louis–a process exuded by human inhabitants of the region for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

With this process in mind, of emergence and evanescence, Mound City Chronicle was born.


My Best of 2020

Posted in Adventure, art, Arts Writing, awareness, Fuji, Hike, photography, prime lens, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on December 20, 2020

1. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

It feels insane to type it, but 2020 was in some ways a more stable year (personally) than those of recent memory, despite the overshadowing of a global pandemic and extreme political uncertainty.


Friday Night Music Video: Belly’s “Feed the Tree”

Posted in awareness, friday night music video, Jason Gray by Jason Gray on January 19, 2020

This post is about the significance (forwards and backwards) of Belly’s “Feed the Tree”, which was my introduction to Tanya Donelly (crush).


My Best of 2019

Posted in Adventure, art, Arts Writing, awareness, Fuji, Hike, photography, prime lens, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on December 1, 2019

1. Assateague Island National Seashore

2019 was a true ‘Tale of Two Cities’ kind of year. I’ve experienced some of the darkest moments I can ever remember this year, as well as some of the most uplifting. Now, where to begin?


Great Smoky Mountains National Park (with kids), Part 1

In our modern world, there are precious few places that entertain and enrich the psyche in a way that satisfies wholly, despite whatever wild expectations or seeming familiarity one may have. Places static, though still offering continually different experiences. Places wild, mysterious, and at times, magical.  Places that achieve everything already described, even though they are among the most loved and most visited of their kind. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of those places, and I’ll soon share how best to enjoy it with kiddos in tow.


Fuji X-T20


I’ve been shooting on Fujifilm now since December, so I figured that’s long enough to begin offering practical reviews of my experiences with that equipment. This article focuses on the Fuji X-T20, a versatile, SLR-styled mirrorless camera that I bought to be my workhorse on location shoots. Did it follow through on this? Read on to find out…


Topo Designs Travel Bag Review

In just a few days, the family and I leave for an eight-day roadtrip to the East Coast. We’ll be visiting friends in Richmond, Virginia (who just had a baby; congrats Katie and Ed!) and Washington D.C., before heading on to the beach for a little, much-needed R an R. I thought it would be fun to take the opportunity to review my Topo Travel Bag, even if it is the older version. Enjoy!


St. Louis Flooding 2019

It’s receding now, and that’s good news for all the folks affected by the historic Flood of 2019. This year’s event was just feet shy of the record Flood of 1993.

The images in this post were photographed in St. Louis, on the riverfront (on the day it crested at 46.2 feet) and along its southern border with St. Louis County.


History of Nature and Landscape Photography, Transition to Artform

George Shiras and John Hammerin a canoe equipped for jacklighting, Whitefish Lake, Michigan, 1893; © National Geographic Creative Archives

Around the beginning of the 20th Century, significant innovations in camera technology, chemistry, and photographic equipment coalesced at a time when photographers were beginning to recognize the expressive potential of their image-making. An era was fast dawning wherein the photograph would no longer be simply relegated to the realm of science or to cheap novelty, but would instead serve to drive culture, both in and out of art.