Jack Curran. The name of this American photographer is enough to evoke extraordinary images, strictly in black and white, a technique of which he is master. Below is a wonderful interview that he has given us, with valuable advices for both newcomers and for those who want to learn more about its unique technique. Visit his website and follow him on the main social networks, you will not regret it!
Name; Jack Curran
Job; Photographer &Vice President / Marketing Executive.
Favorite place; This is a tough question, usually would say the next location, but I have couple places that are tied, the Dolomites in Italy and Patagonia.
Favorite book; Thinking for a Change. By John C. Maxwell.
Favorite movie; It’s a Wonderful Life. I cry every time!
The best day of your life; The day I quit drinking over 40 years ago! The birth of my children
Best Journey you had; The next one! But indeed my most recent trip in 2017 to Patagonia was outstanding! It was two weeks of extended journeys and new sights every day. With 10-15 mile hikes into the backcountry every day, it was one spectacular day after another. I was able to create a significant body of work in two weeks.
Most Complicated Journey you had; I’ve been pretty lucky and fairly complication free for the most part as most of my trips have been smooth. Most large trips to other countries are logistically challenging. One such trip was Iceland. Have you ever tried to read that language ☺. Two weeks in Iceland would rank up there. The language, currency, cost and the fact that I camped off-road nearly the whole time made it a bit more challenging than most of my trips. On this particular trip, the worst complications are usually self-inflicted. For example, hiking several miles into the backcountry and stepping into a creek only to find myself chest high in quicksand from black glacial silt! It took me about 10 minutes to pull myself out via my tripod legs.
Your motto. See the light and seize the day!
How did you get into photography and when did you realize that photography would become your life? I first started in photography when I was 19 years old, nearly 40 years ago. And I realized I was in for life when taking an introduction to photography course my freshman year of college. There I saw my first black and white print appear in the developing tray in the darkroom. I instantly knew photography was an art I was going to pursue in one fashion or form the rest of my life. To see the magic of an image develop I personally composed to realization in print helped me understand I could explore and tell stories about the world around me and create something new and unique along the way for the rest of my life.
Which photographers influenced you? Many people look at my work and immediately think of Ansel Adams. However, for me, I was more influenced by Brett Weston for his high contrast and unique composition, and Josef Sudek for his subjective eye for detail of the world around him.
Which journey you made has influenced your style the most (if you have one)? I don’t think any trip, in particular, has directly impacted my photography. For me, my entire career has been a journey of growth, discovery, exploration, and refinement. Interestingly, I’ve done some of my best and most focused work over the last five years.
What makes a good picture stand out from an average one? That’s a difficult question and subjective. However, with that said, technical considerations aside I would have to say a great photograph has to display a passionate connection between the photographer and their subject. Assuming one has mastered the functional and aesthetic aspects of creating an exceptional visual image, it comes down to how they see expressively and their ability to convey that to the viewer. I would also like to point out one critical consideration especially for any photographer early in their career; I encourage them to simplify and quickly move away from being a generalist (shooting too many different subjects). The more a photographer can reduce and simplify their vision to fewer topics they are passionate about, the sooner the photographer will build a strong personal vision.
Why did you choose the black and white over color?
I’ve always found black and white to demonstrate a substantial depth of visual communication, while abstract nature of black and white challenges the photographer to think more abstractly and creatively. While I appreciate well-executed color photography, I find black and white exciting, challenging, unique and personally fulfilling.
How do you think in black and white? For me, it’s all about seeing the light in black and white. It is essential to visualize the flow of light, to think about light as it defines the shape of forms, creates high or low contrast, light, and shadows, and think about how looking how light creates a tonal range across a subject.
How much impact has the research for geometry in the composition of a landscape picture? Geometry is essential, and useful to understand basic rules of balance in a composition, but without other critical elements, geometry is just shape and structure. I like to research how light works on any given geometry. I look for transitions of light from front to back, from left to right and across surfaces and textures. I think about the flow of light, transitions, and luminosity in tandem with geometry.
What is your typical shooting gear?
I use a canon 5DsR full frame, a 16-35mm wide angle, a 24-105mm wide to mid, and 100-400mm telephoto, all Canon lenses. I use a Gitzo Carbon fiber tripod with a Surui G30 Ball head. I occasionally use the Lee Filters – Big Stopper 10-stop ND and Little Stopper 3-stop ND filter. I work primarily in Lightroom Classic for all my post-production.
What is going to be your next destination?
Ad aprile sarò in Nuova Zelanda,poi in Cina, quindi tornerò negli States e per il 2019 ho in programma in viaggio in elicottero nella Britsh Columbia.
The world of photography is constantly growing. It’s more and more difficult to find a personal style; you did it in a great way. What do you think about the future of photography, and what suggestions would you like to give to young photographers?
As with any art form the most exciting and relevant work will rise to the top, no matter how crowded the field. I would also like to point out one significant consideration especially for any photographer early in their career, young or old; I encourage them to simplify and quickly move away from trying to be good at shooting everything. The more one can reduce and simplify their vision to fewer subjects they are passionate about, and honestly excel at shooting the sooner the photographer will build a strong, concise and focused personal vision.