Interview with photographer Jacob Black
F-Stop Magazine: How did you first become involved in photography and what led to you working in this medium as an artist?
Jacob Black: I have been taking photos for as long as I can remember, it’s something I was always drawn to, not a conscious decision. Working with photography has slowly transformed from a hobby to an art practice. The practice of photography is so diverse and that is what excites me. You can get lost in process and ideas but still, end up at a point that makes sense.
F-Stop: The current issue of F-Stop Magazine includes images from your project “I cannot wipe sunrise down my jumper to get rid of the fingerprints,” can you tell us about this project and maybe a bit about its title?
JB: The project was a response to the cognitive and emotional impacts of the concussion. My symptoms lasted for several months I found myself trying to visualise and create a body of work to distract and process what I was experiencing. It was a weird time and not one I can remember in its entirety, dream-like, memories that I know were mine, but don’t feel how I would usually experience them, it’s hard to articulate, I think this is why I began to make images.
The title paraphrases a poem/song by Ellen Renton, I listened to it a lot, and the words were one of the few things that would be in my mind. I felt like the title ‘I cannot wipe sunrise down my jumper to get rid of the fingerprints’ was saying I couldn’t force the feelings of concussion to disappear, I had to let time take its course.
F-Stop: Why do you photograph? What motivates you to make the images you create?
JB: I guess because I always have, I have never really asked myself why I make images, it’s just something I feel compelled to do. My motivation has changed. I used to use photography as a tool to experience other people’s worlds, whereas now my motivation comes from experiencing my world and the intricacies within the photographic practice. With time this may change again.
F-Stop: What is your process for making these images or your creative process more generally?
JB: My process is all over the place, I have an idea or not and just keep taking photos. After a few moments of introspection and realise everything is wrong and start again. I think the process and sticking with it, is one of the hardest things about photographic storytelling. Something I have found very useful is voice notes, when you are deep in a project your mind is always focusing on what works and doesn’t, moments of clarity come at the strangest times and is great just to be able to offload any ideas and then listen back and try to make sense of it all.
F-Stop: What do you hope people experience or feel when they look at your photographs?
JB: Like with anything photography is subjective, I don’t want to force ideas or preconceived notions onto the viewer. I feel we look to art for an escape, I hope my work can achieve that. But when you feel a genuine response this is the most gratifying feeling.
F-Stop: How does this project or your creative process in making it relate or differ from your other work which is documentary storytelling?
JB: This project happened to me, it wasnt like I decided to be concussed, it was an almost knee-jerk reaction to make images. Other projects are also often made using analogue processes in the darkroom or using different chemicals and papers. This project was shot and made using completely digital methods.
F-Stop: What or who are your photography inspirations – and why?
JB: My photography inspirations are never-ending. Masahisa Fukase’s book Ravens is probably my favourite photo book ever. Stephen Gil is a constant inspiration, how each photo project can be so different and unique but yet you still know it is him behind the work. The more paper bases artists like Liz Nielsen and Mariah Robertson manipulate photo processes to produce such refined and beautiful works. I am always looking to the photo book publisher PhotoVoid for the artists, themes, aesthetics and designs that are something I gravitate towards.
F-Stop: Are you working on any other projects currently?
JB: Yes, but I don’t want to say too much 🙂
Jacob Black (1995) is a UK lens-based artist and photographer working in documentary. Through a passion for the social sciences and lens-based documentation, Jacob completed a BA in Politics (2018) and an MA in Photojournalism (2021).
To see more of Jacob’s work visit the Portfolio 2022 issue of F-Stop or Jacob’s website jacob–black.com
Location: Online Type: Black and White, Featured Photographer, Interview
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