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

Photography is No Monolith

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Photography, at its root, is two things: 1. the recording of light phenomena (sometimes invisible to the human eye); 2. a means of communication (sometimes for a conversation that we have only with ourselves). In the overlap between these two, we see all of the photographs ever made, which of course, says very little about the purpose of their creation. This distinction, the photograph’s “purpose”, only becomes apparent once the relationship between the photographer and viewer has been established. For instance, a message delivered through a megaphone that never reaches the recipient renders the projection device meaningless, or without purpose. In this way, the purpose of a photograph that sells to an ad agency is commercial, while the purpose of a photograph that sells to a Museum is cultural, but this is also an oversimplification, since photographs that originally sold to ad agencies have wound up in Museums (a photograph’s purpose can change over time or a photograph can have multiple purposes simultaneously).

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New Blog!

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I am excited to announce that my wife and I will be opening a brick-and-mortar shop (explorer boutique, wanderer goods) called KAMP in St. Louis, Missouri this March. Our motto is “Equip, explore, reflect, repeat”, and we hope that you’ll stop by if/when you can.

For those of you that enjoy my outdoor content on this blog, most of that will be moving over to the store’s blog, so be sure to subscribe over there to not miss anything!

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Interlude: Castlewood State Park

Quick family hike through one of the Missouri’s best State Parks (and so close to STL!).  I’ve written about the Park in the past, including about its remarkable history, so this post will be a mostly visual tour.

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My Best of 2017 (part two)

20. Tiffany

For the first time, I have divided the annual summary of a year in my photo life into two parts.  Check out the first part here.

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My Best of 2017 (part one)

1. former JC Penny Building in Wells Goodfellow for Photo Flood Saint Louis (PFSTL)

As mentioned in my “Best of” post for last year, 2016 pretty much wrecked my life, so it should come as no surprise that 2017 was a year of contemplation, reassessment and rebuilding. As 2018 dawns, I am concluding or have concluded several projects, some positive/some negative, some personal/some public, and am ready to welcome the start of what’s next. Enjoy this numbered list of my favorite images from last year, with some anecdotes sprinkled in between (this is a two-parter for the first time; look for the second one later in the month).

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Interlude: Sister Marie Charles Park

One of my favorite parks in St. Louis is one of its least known (perhaps, more than a little responsible for its allure). Sister Marie Charles Park is a sliver of greenspace at the base of a bluff along the Mississippi River in Carondelet, in the city’s far south side.  It offers one of my favorite views of downtown (see above), and provides a pacifying view of the river with tugboats and towboats gently chugging by.

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Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D Lens

Lenses, like cameras, are purchased for a variety of reasons:

1. There are lenses out there that are impeccable, that deliver maximum image quality (loads of sharpness, great contrast, minimum distortion and excellent color reproduction) and are lighting fast (generally f/2.8 is considered fast, though with primes sometimes f/1.8 is considered sluggish), but those lenses tend to come with a few caveats also: they are heavy and expensive.  These lenses are specialists’ tools; their purpose is to be the best in the game for the pros that need them.

2. There are lenses that are the optical equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife, they cut, they saw, they open cans, but they’re often clunky and inefficient when compared to tools dedicated to those tasks.  They are your 18-400’s of the world.  These zoom lenses are generalists’ tools; their purpose is utility and convenience for the enthusiast.

3. There are lenses that you form an emotional attachment to.  These lenses can be zooms or primes, slow or fast, cheap or expensive, but they are always at your side.  These lenses are the ones you pick up when you are going out to take pictures for the day when there is no pressure on you for what you’ll bring back.  They make photography fun. They get out of your way, and let you think about composition and subject.  These lenses are seldom the first ones photographers buy. In fact, they almost always come into the bag after years of shooting, when you realize finally that what is truly missing from your kit isn’t its ability to cover fisheye to super telephoto or to be able to pixel peep every shot at 100%.

The Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D is this third category of lenses for me.

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LouFest 2017

Posted in Adventure, art, beer, family, Interlude, Jason Gray, links, nikon, Park, perception, photography, prime lens, prime lenses, St. Louis by Jason Gray on September 11, 2017

Don’t go into the light, Carol Anne.

LouFest is an annual music festival held in St. Louis’ Forest Park that combines national headlining music acts with local upstarts on three stages with a veritable village in between of art tents, food and drink vendors, retail, carnival activities, a kids area and more.

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Interlude: Carondelet Park

Posted in Adventure, art, Hike, Interlude, Jason Gray, Park, perception, Photo Walk, photography, prime lenses by Jason Gray on August 15, 2017

Created as a concession to demands for a southern and northern park following the planned establishment of Forest Park, Carondelet Park is the third largest green space in St. Louis, and the only one that honors the karst topography original to the area.

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Monica

Posted in art, Interlude, Jason Gray, model, perception, photography by Jason Gray on April 25, 2017

There is something timeless and very simple about working with the human figure that I much enjoy.  For the commercial work that I do, I am always concerned with what the client’s expectations are, and with my more conceptual work, I operate within very strict parameters governed by what I am trying to say.  Likewise, for the photographs that I produce for Photo Flood Saint Louis, I am constantly thinking about the story my images are sending. However, in figurative work, I am free to pursue both form and content in a way that is completely untethered from any mental constraints.

The human body is a classical motif in art, one which conveys both the grace and tragedy of life.  As such, it is a conduit for both our notions of beauty and scorn, and a subject that I have tremendous respect for.

In this most recent shoot, I was fortunate to work with a great model that seemed to know exactly what I wanted (perhaps because we are already friends or because she is also a photographer).  I am very happy with this body of images, and look forward to working with Monica again in the future.

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