Interview the Artist – J.K. York
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is James K. York and my wife Lisa and I live in Asheville, NC. USA. I have worked in and around the publishing business for many moons. In college I was a school newspaper photographer, but somehow I ended up on the production end of the business with the New York Times as a pre-press technician. I have run the gamut from copy editing to running a press. I am looking to work part-time now out of the corporate world and devote more energy to making photography my business. My wife Lisa teaches English at a local technical college.
What is your first memory of using a camera?
My first memory of a camera would have to be my dad’s old Polaroid Model 350 (circa 1969.) It wasn’t like the instant SX-70 that spit out a print. You pulled out a black sleeve and had to wait 60 seconds for it to develop before peeling the thing apart. My first camera was a Kodak instamatic.
Do you have any formal training?
I took two years of fine art photography courses as electives to my English degree at the University of South Carolina.
What camera/s do you use?
My main kit is an Olympus E-3 DLSR. I still shoot medium and large format film with a Mamiya RB67ProSD and a Graflex Supergraphic 4×5. I still have, but don’t use the full Olympus OM series.
Do you manipulate or edit your photos digitally and how?
Absolutely! I’ve been using Photoshop since version 4.0. I currently use CS2. Most of my workflow is editing curves and color. I rarely do any composite manipulations, but I will clone out distracting elements for a cleaner image. I will experiment from time to time, but mainly like to get an image to look like what I envisioned when looking through the camera’s viewfinder.
What inspires you?
Great question. I had to think on this one for a while. Overall I’d say music. I can’t listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony without getting a warm glow from the inside (and a little teary eyed too.) Nature I think is my primary photographic inspiration. I love macro photography and looking into the small details of the world around us.
Do you think of yourself as having a photographic “style”? If so… what would it be?
I’ve never chased down a particular style, but after nearly 30 years of being a photographer, I’m sure one has emerged only I can’t see it. I’m always looking for balance. Balance of light, shapes, tones, etc.
Do you make your living with your photography?
No, but I do pick up a little extra cash now and again when I sell something. My plan is to make it my living in the near future.
Of all of your photographs, which is your favorite?
This is Aachen Germany year 2001. I took the train down from Amsterdam to see the Charlemagne exhibit at the Karlskirche. While roaming the old city dusk was falling and so was the light. I loaded super high speed Ilford Delta 3200 black and white film into my Olympus OM-3. This man was organizing his tobacco shoppe display and I loved all the pipes. I was very pleased when I got home and developed my film and saw this shot. It brings back all the memories of that trip.
Who is your favorite photographer?
Henri Lartigue – http://www.artnet.com/artist/22004/jacques-henri-lartigue.html
Where can readers find your work online?
Do you have a specific subject or genre you prefer to shoot?
I don’t set out to favor one genre over another, but I do seem to gravitate toward landscape scenics, extreme macro, and industrial grunge.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of being behind the camera?
Not being in front of it!
Are you connected to an online photographic community?
Yep. Red Bubble out of Australia. http://www.redbubble.com
I find that I have time to maintain only one site.
Some random questions here…
What is your favorite color?
Green. Ironically the most difficult color to reproduce in printing.
What is your favorite thing to have for breakfast?
Scrambled eggs and linked sausage.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself?
Living or passed away? The late Errol Flynn. Living I say Crispin Glover.
What super power would you like to have? Why?
X-ray vision for obvious reasons!
What do you do to relax?