Jon Helgason takes photos, yes, but he captures more than just a moment frozen in time and suspended in two tangible dimensions. There is a beautifully tranquil and intriguing quality about his photographs. When you look at his photographic images your mind recognizes them as déjà-vu, glimmering fragments of a memory you assume is your own but could easily mistake as subconscious desire for escape. You might pine for return to a place in the world you’ve never visited, adapting his still-life images into a dreamscape tapestry of the past. While there is a sense of place in Jon’s work, there’s also ambiguity that invites you to pinpoint just exactly when and where things exist.
ArtVenue wanted to get to know the man behind the lens because, as with anything, there is always more than meets the eye.
“I keep trying until I make a picture that I love and that’s why I keep doing it.”
Home is where the heart is-where is home for you?
I live in Beverly, Massachusetts. It’s on Boston’s North Shore.
How and when did you discover yourself to be a photographer?
My profession is training, specifically teaching tech products to sales people. In 2005 I was asked to be part of a team to help launch a major manufacturer’s first DSLR. I was hooked!
Where did you learn the skills and gain the knowledge you, as a photographer, posses today?
The first step in any product introduction is for the trainers to learn the ins and outs. Well, photography, especially advanced DSLR photography, involves more than a quick lesson. My team was regularly exposed to professional photographers and actually had many lessons over the years. Most of our instructors were actually Pulitzer Prize nominees. We were actually paid to learn to shoot!
Describe the pinnacle ofyour artistic career.
Being featured on ArtVenue is definitely a highlight. Receiving praise during critiques of my work by the aforementioned Pulitzer Prize nominees was my first encouragement and then selling my first pictures sealed the deal.
“I know [art] when I see it.”
If you were given a blankcheck, an hour in your favorite art store and permission to shop to yourheart’s content, what would we see in your shopping cart/s?
You would see the top of the line Epson printer as well as a lifetime supply of ink and paper! My favorite art store would have to be a photo-specialty dealer and my cart would include upgrades to my camera kit. Specifically I would like a faster wide angle lens. I’m evaluating cameras now and I’m not sure I need to go to a “full frame” model, but I know would like more resolution.
What is art to you? What is art for you? Why create it?
I know it when I see it. That’s obviously true for everyone. We want to see the “best” no matter what the medium is. One of my favorite photography instructors asks a question in his seminar. “What is the difference between an amateur and a professional photographer?” Students invariably give answers about getting paid, having a degree, or making a living with it. His answer? “A professional only shows you the good pictures.” I keep trying until I make a picture that I love and that’s why I keep doing it.
“I do think that I get better as I continue to learn and practice.”
What is your favorite subject to shoot? Do you have a favorite shoot or project that you ever worked on?
I like to go to an interesting place and wander around shooting. Although its great to have a specific plan, like shooting detail at a classic car show, its great fun to be surprised when you just walk around and shoot at what catches your eye. My favorite shoot would be any of the awesome opportunities I had to shoot with the pros at places like San Juan Capistrano, the desert around Tucson, or an airplane graveyard.
Where do you gather and/or seek your inspiration from?
I get inspired by looking at photography in books and websites. The inspiration frequently comes from learning a new technique.
Pick your own favorite piece on ArtVenue. What is it of, why is it your favorite andwhat does it mean to you?
It would have to be VIEW OF THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE IN BEDROOM, 2009. ABELARDO MORELL. It’s using camera obscura to project the Brooklyn Bridge. I love the idea of having that image on my wall every day and see how it changes as the sun moves and the weather changes.
What propels you forward, what keeps you going as an artist?
That’s easy. I always want to get better and try new things. For example, I was taught “light painting” and have done some. I want to really jump in with both feet and do something big.
“In 2005 I was asked to be part of a team to help launch a major manufacturer’s first DSLR. I was hooked!”
What is some advice you could give to budding artists, hopeful to make a name for themselves or looking to build a portfolio?
Its probably a cliché but you really have to work at it. You have to put in the time to get technically proficient so you don’t have to be thinking of all the details that go into making a photograph. One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the ten thousand hour measurement for achieving world class expertise. It can be broken down into twenty hours a week for ten years. I know I’d miss fewer shots if I was even close to that ten thousand hours! I do think that I get better as I continue to learn and practice.
ArtVenue would like to thank Jon for giving us some of his time and thoughts. We are psyched to have him on ArtVenue – welcome to the family!