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.


My Best of 2022

1. Historic River Des Peres Sewer Tunnel, from Mound City Chronicle (for Terrain Magazine)

Despite taking a lot of photographs in 2022, very little photography was dedicated to my several ongoing projects (though significant that little bit was). This is due to several intervening factors: 1. my focus on exhibiting has picked up steam; 2. my focus on publishing a photobook has become realized; 3. I had wonderful assistance with my photo organization; and 4. it was hot as heck for a lot of the year.


What’s in my Camera Bag, 2022?

photo by Harper Gray (my oldest son)

It has been a while since I have shared a true, “what’s in my camera bag?”-style peek into the gear that I use on a regular basis. I am going to take the opportunity to really deep dive into what I pack in my primary kit, my everyday carry, and for travel or street photography. I will also summarize my thoughts on Fuji, after three years of using this system as my primary choice.


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.


Fuji GFX 100s

The museum where I work may be updating the camera equipment in its photo studio, so Fujifilm USA sent me a GFX 100s and three lenses (GF 24mm f/4, GF 45-100mm f/4, and GF 120mm f/4 Macro) to test out for a week. I’ve been shooting Fuji’s X series for several years now, and I consider it a very competent, versatile system. However, there is “capable” and there is “CAPABLE”. This camera fits easily into the latter, as you will soon see.


My Best of 2021

1. St. Louis Riverfront, from Mound City Chronicle

You wouldn’t know it from this blog (considering that this is my first post of the year), but 2021 was an opportunity for me to stretch my wings a bit and expand horizons for my work. For much of the last ten years, I’ve been primarily focused on assisting other artists in St. Louis, whether that was through Photo Flood Saint Louis, curating, teaching or mentoring. The effect of this was that I had lost sight of promoting myself and my work as an artist–to the degree that it had been more than ten years since my last solo exhibition. This year, all of that changed.


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.


First Impressions: Vallerret Ipsoot Photography Gloves

Posted in Adventure, Jason Gray, links, photography, Review, St. Louis, Travel, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on November 26, 2020

Vallerret Ipsoot Photography Gloves

I was recently sent a pair of Ipsoot Photography Gloves by Vallerret, and asked to share my thoughts. This is the Norway-based company that is the winter weather best friend to cold hands everywhere. Things have been a little unseasonably warm here in St. Louis, so my more in-depth review will come later. However, I wanted to take a quick moment to give my first impressions.


Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 WR Lens

The Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR Lens is the most recent Fuji lens that I have purchased, but it has already become my third most used Fuji lens ever (according to my shot count in Lightroom). It is a lens that I have travelled with extensively, hiked with extensively, used as a walk-around lens extensively, and have leaned on heavily for event work, portrait work, art documentation and more. In simple, this lens, like the 23mm and 50mm lenses, is a lens that I trust to tell my story as a photographer (and in turn, the stories of my quite varied subjects). That said, it is not a perfect lens- it has character, and I’ll get into that in a bit.

The lenses I review are measured in terms of their performance in three categories: Specialist, Utility or Passion. As always, I am not a technical reviewer, so this won’t be charts and tests driven, just real world experiences.         (more…)

7artisans Photoelectric 35mm f/1.2 Lens

Sometimes, photography is just meant to be fun. Not worrying about being consistent to a body of work, or not worrying about botching a client’s expectations is often the source of that fun for me, but it can also stem from pure experimentation. From taking a piece of equipment out that may miss the shot, but might also deliver something really beautiful and unexpected. A piece of equipment, by the way, that harkens back to a time when photography was conducted at a slower, more deliberate pace- an analog piece in a digital world. The 7artisans Photoelectric (what the heck does that mean?!) 35mm f/1.2 is that piece of equipment.

The lenses I review are measured in terms of their performance in three categories: Specialist, Utility or Passion. As always, I am not a technical reviewer, so this won’t be charts and tests driven, just real world experiences.         (more…)