The human element of photography

Episode #Christopher Jacob: Interview with Christopher Jacob (33 minutes)

Discussion Topics

  1. Ethnography & Anthropology
  2. engagement & relationships
  3. mindset of fascination
  4. gaining rapport

Christopher Jacob

Photographer, Filmmaker & Art Director

Christopher Jacob is a photographer, filmmaker and art director based out of New Orleans. His work is informed by his background in folklore and anthropology, integrating the principles and methods of ethnographic fieldwork into his visual practice of the documentation and exhibition of people, performance and place all over the world. Chris is the owner and Creative Director at Lemon Tree Studio in New Orleans, a new photography gallery and working studio. Check out Chris’ work on the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans.

Summary of Discussion Topics:

  • Photography as ethnographic and anthropologic.
  • The level of engagement and relationship you have with your client affects both the way the images turn out and are perceived/received.
  • Being conscious to have sensibility to the scene and be able to read a room and let your clients guide what you photograph.
  • Remembering you are representing that day for your client for years to come.
  • How to give repetitive and relatively “mundane” tasks (i.e. wedding after wedding) the respect and fresh/”amateur” mindset required to have an attitude of fascination for every session/event and remain engaged.
  • How to gain rapport with your clients and make them comfortable and natural in front of your camera.
  • Tools to use to get clients to relax in front of your camera and equipment.
  • Using participant observation to understand your client from the inside out and produce more candid images.
  • Interacting with the other guests or individuals at the session/event.
  • The idea of being “zoomed out” during a session.
  • Using ethnography when building a relationship with clients, letting them speak for themselves, and actually listening and being aware of what they say, their desires, etc.
  • What to do if you find your client is not engaging with you.
  • A reminder to be sensitive as a photographer, and ask yourself who’s story am I telling, getting rid of any preconceived notions or stereotypes you have going into the session/event, essentially with nothing but your equipment.

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