What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what have been some of the most important milestones in your career up until now?
I got my photographic start as a twenty-something skateboarder. I was shooting that lifestyle- my friends, action shots, landscapes of pools and ramps, stuff like that. It was a totally natural way for me to incorporate my new interest in photography into my existing life. It was very exciting. That spark really ignited a deep desire to become a photographer. It allowed me to see the world in a new more specific and meaningful way, shooting very personal subjects. Since those days two major things have guided my path as an artist, moving back to New England from the desert of Arizona where I found photography and having my 1st child. The landscape of New England and becoming a parent were really instrumental in who I have become as an artist. I consider those career milestones in a way. But also having my first solo exhibition at ClampArt in New York and the publication of my book, Intertidal, would be my more concrete milestones.
How do you approach editing your work, and what advice would you give to others about evaluating their photographs?
I started this pattern of shoot, shoot, shoot, and edit later. Shoot every and anything, even things that initially seem disconnected. For me relationships between images often occur back in the studio, during the proof-printing process, once everything was up on the wall. Relationships that I was unaware of at the time and couldn't have possibly seen in camera. This way of working has become part of my core process and allows me to create the installations that I eventually exhibit. The process of acquiring the images in a free form way has also allowed me to shoot various types of pieces (portrait, still live, landscape) and exhibit them seamlessly together. I guess I'm editing all the way through, just in different ways. So my point is be open during the editing process to things outside of your expected comfort zone.
I'm a big believer that getting as many eyes on the work as possible can be great when editing. Share your work at all stages of the process with peers and friends. Let go of some the control and see what happens. I know this sounds elementary but print out the images, hang them on the wall, and look at the bigger picture. In the digital age I feel that more editing is done onscreen. Sit with things for a while and really look at what you're doing, look for connections.
How do you decide on new projects to work on? Do you always shoot with a concept in mind or do you wait to be inspired as you go?
I've had the fortune that most of my projects organically rise to the surface, sort of fall in my lap. I am always thinking about various concepts that interest me and how they can be related to my art making process and how I can implement them into my life. So there is stuff buzzing around all the time, then every once and a while I'll make some work about a topic. I float around between a few projects at once so I can spread out my attention, which keeps it fresh. I would say my practice is made of 50% of work that is preconceived and produced with an idea in mind and 50% on the fly as I go. but in the end all of the work will fit into the same project. for example, right now my daughter and I are driving around waiting for things to appear or happen, but at he same same time we are focused on shooting planned things. It's a really nice way to work because it allows me to be open to chance encounter but also make sure I have something solid happening that's ready to go.
For Intertidal I moved home to New England and was awaked by what I saw. The landscape, my friends and family, etc. I was coming back east after being away for 10 years. I became a visual artist while I was gone, so returning was crucial in creating that work. The move sort of dictated it in a natural way. Blind was sort of a commission in the early stages. I was invited by a friend to go down south and visit a hunting farm with him to hang out and possibly make some new work. When I arrived I knew that my next project was at hand.
The project I am currently working on really fell into my lap. I was on a road trip with my 5 year old daughter to explore nature and photograph what we encountered and before I knew it I was deep in the throes of a serious art project. Maybe the most complete one I've attempted in terms of what interests me the most at this point in my life.
What ways have you found successful for promoting your work and finding a receptive audience for it?
I think making the rounds on the portfolio review circuit is important. It's a great way to show your work to the right people all in one place. It can be expensive but in my experience it has paid off. Review Santa Fe is the one of the best and has been integral in my career. I would definitely recommend it. Being a good self-promoter is crucial, emailing, social media, blogging, all of that keeps people aware of you and you're work on a daily basis. I'm on the grind all day, everyday. Just ask my wife.
Rapper Rick Ross says it best "Everyday I'm Hustlin'" It's funny, but 100% true.
Also, having the right dealer and agents is important. Everyone wants a gallery and a commercial agent, but the key is to find the right ones that are a perfect match for you and your work, then to work as a team. I took my time in finding the right gallery and agent to work with. Sometimes it's hard and scary to make the right decisions. But if you have a vision for how you see your future and what your team should be then don't settle for anything less. I'm not saying hold out for Gagosian, be realistic. Figure out where you fit and who you really want to work with and then go for it and give it your all. I feel like I should say, easier said than done right here, true, but getting the audience, collectors or jobs that you want comes from the right team. I've been incredibly fortunate to have a great team of people to work with. It makes me happy everyday to know that I can trust them and their vision of my work. Together we get the work in front of the right audience.
© copyright all images Jesse Burke, all rights reserved.