As a young boy, Jason spent time going between his parents’ town house and the country setting of his grandparents’ bungalow. Both surroundings expressed such drastic differences and he became familiar with each existing in its rightful place. It wasn’t until one night, with dimly lit street lights on the outskirts of his parents’ hometown, he had a unique experience.
“I came across a beautiful vixen in the middle of the path and for a moment we stopped in our tracks and looked at each other. In that moment, I felt an overwhelming feeling of wonder and before I could take my second breath the vixen disappeared into a nearby bush,”
It was after this experience Jason began to question his understanding of our surroundings. To him it was a reminder that the wonderful planet in which we live in is shared with these other charismatic creatures – hence project Totem was born.
The project explores the fact that the line between humans and wildlife is not as clear-cut as we would like to believe in, and that in the animal kingdom, the only thing we can count on is unpredictability.
To create these striking and haunting images, Jason breaks the scene into various layers and tries his best to stay within the confines of these ‘laws’. “It may sound silly but there is nothing worse than realizing that you have overthought an image. As many of my works feature profound and surreal concepts, having a consistent emotional response is key.”
If someone is led to question the authenticity or skills of an image, then its impact is diminished and a connection is hard to make. As such, for Jason, building a certain photo-realism into every image is key. He places himself in the photo, or the context of it, before actually getting to work. This process is unique to him and seemingly odd to many.
“I stood in the middle of a street during a rainy night trying to mimic the actions of a wild bear. I have sat in a diner enjoying a cup of tea for several hours watching the world go by in the golden autumn sunlight – I have even received violent threats from an intoxicated, slack-jawed gambler in a grubby casino,”
He sticks to what he calls a “modest” set of gear: the Nikon D3100 with a standard AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G lens he received for his birthday in 2012.
He wanted to prove to himself that he could create imagery of significance without splashing out on expensive gear, and that the art of photography was not lost in an old black shadow of material influence.
“When I leave my home on a location shoot, I grab my camera bag, my camera, an umbrella, a flask of coffee, spare cards, a lens cleaning kit, a snack, some tinfoil, reflectors and an old Camlink tripod from the 80’s.”
© Jason McGroarty