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Interview – Jason Armstrong Beck on Photography, Art and The Journal of Bison Jack

When did you first know you wanted to be a photographer?

When I first saw Citizen Kane. I think I was around 12 or 13 yrs old. At home we had two films on VHS cassette. Citizen Kane and The Warriors. In some way those two films guided me through my adolescence.

How did you start in photography?

I went to a very good photography school, although I am not sure how much I learned. The traditional route after school was to become a 2nd/3rd assistant to a commercial photographer and work your up, but because of my love of film making I missed that part of the professional curve. For a few years, I mostly shot music videos and only occasionally took photographs. Things were different back then. Of course, there were exceptions, but it was almost like you weren't allowed to do more than one thing—so I went back and forth between the two for awhile.


How would you describe your visual style?

I don’t know if I have a visual style per se. There have been periods when I see the world in a certain way or become obsessed with a certain quality of light, but mostly the camera is an extension of my curiosity rather than my technique.

Your series “The Forest for the Trees” is intriguing; take us behind the scenes of your creative process for this series.

I don’t know if I have a visual style per se. There have been periods when I see the world in a certain way or become obsessed with a certain quality of light, but mostly the camera is an extension of my curiosity rather than my technique. Your series “The Forest for the Trees” is intriguing; take us behind the scenes of your creative process for this series. For most of my

For most of my career I have been driven by narrative and an almost traditional photography structure, and the heroes of my early years are always with me. ‘Forest’ was a long process. I was finally becoming more comfortable as a writer and seeing some success and even though I was still shooting, I recognized that what I was trying to say as a photographer was no longer enough. So, I learned to be patient and let it come to me—and through trial and error and a lot of late nights, I finally figured it out. Although technically the work was challenging, it was the most free I have ever felt.

You started writing the “The Journal of Bison Jack” in 2008. What prompted you to turn a poet?

I originally began the journal as a way to get through a difficult time in my life—a kind of morning meditation if you will. Back then it was mostly incoherent babble, but I stuck with it and now it’s as much a part of my life as sleeping is.

The fact that it has ended up being mostly poetry surprises me, but it remains a place where I can explore the world from a less discerning eye.