Jan 18 2011

Happy 80th Birthday Jay

Published by at 6:50 pm under portraits,process,teaching,travel,visual concepts

In the photography world the name Jay is synonymous the legendary photographer Jay Maisel.

He’s influenced generations of photographers and my turn came in 2003 right at the time that serious digital cameras entered the market. He was in Los Angeles to give one of his inspiring presentations and his photos of course impressed me, yet at the same time I was confused.

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Jay Maisel making a gesture about color and light

Many of the shots were taken for clients, but some of the best had no reason to be shot – except for the simple fact that they were great pictures. It was at that moment that I realized that I had witness similar scenes before, but I was self-censoring myself into only taking pictures that I thought could sell.

I lamented all the photos I’d been missing and at the same time recognized the economic equation had just changed.  Instead of buying what is now a relatively cheap camera and spending thousands of dollars a year in film. I had just purchased a $7,000 digital camera where the film was “free”.

I was inspired to catch up for years of lost images and discovered that Jay was teaching a class at the Santa Fe Photo Workshops the following week. I packed my bags and was on my way.

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I couldn't make out of the driveway without being stopped in my tracks

The class was inspiring for the extended viewing of Jay’s work and to witness how his critiques of student’s work were all teaching moments instead an opportunity to pass judgment. I began to see differently. There were days that I couldn’t get out of the driveway without being stopped in my tracks by amazing light hitting the purple flowers of a sage plant.

The week went by in a blur. We shot, edited, talked and shot some more – and somehow the universe bent light differently so that interesting photos were all around. Even the weather cooperated to make great photos, as I was lucky enough to get caught in a dust storm on my drive home.

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Even the weather changed to inspire me to shoot

You can find evidence of Jay’s influence by exploring my Visual Concepts category. That is really just a fancy way of saying these are photos that are a cheap imitation of anything that Jay Maisel could shoot on his 80th birthday or any day and a tribute to his influence.  May you have another 80 years of producing great work.

I found a wonderful video made by The Big Picture in 2008 on Ed Broberg’s blog tribute. It’s a great introduction or reminder of the genius of the man.

Be sure to visit Jay’s blog to read more tributes to Jay’s birthday.

Mark Harmel

harmelphoto.com

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