Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists and today marks the first weekly artist feature on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!
While the name Jason Shipley might not ring any specific bells, his Uniquely Northwest Photography business should. But - what about the man behind the lens?
Seattle Refined: How long have you been taking photographs? Do you work with other mediums?
Jason Shipley: I've been taking photographs since the early 90's back in high school when photos were created on actual film. I stepped away from it for about six years when everything converted to digital, however; once someone put a camera in a cellphone along with editing applications I was drawn back to it and have been pursuing my photography ever since.
Photography is my only medium currently, however; I used to work with oils, acrylics, pastels and charcoal back in high school and college.
Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
My first stage in the artistic process is always preparation. I look to what inspires me as well as other artists work that I admire to help get my creative juices flowing.
The next stage for me is incubation. I always sit with an idea for a period of time before executing it in camera. For me, this is where the fun begins, partially because half of the time I don't even realize that it is happening. This is the stage where those first hints of a hopefully great idea are bouncing around inside my head. This can happen while sitting at a red light, or when I see a particular light reflecting off an object, or just adventuring around the Pacific Northwest. The fundamental part for me at this stage is to get my conscious and subconscious working in tandem as opposed to forcing an idea. I've always preferred organic development in the pursuit of the images I create.
The next stage for me is realization of an idea after I have given it plenty of time to develop organically. It's that "Ah-ha!" moment. When that moment hits me the creative image can be so strong that I just have to get the idea out of my head and into my camera, usually to the point of losing focus of all other things around me. It happens when it happens and I find that it happens at all hours and times of the day, whether I am in the shower, eating at a restaurant, commuting, and when it does happen it's like the stars have aligned and I have my next great idea ready to come to fruition.
The next stage in my artistic process is implementation. This is where I begin taking steps to consciously execute my idea. This is also where I continue to evaluate whether my original idea was a good one or not. Often times I will get to this place in my process and find that my idea will not come to life in the manner in which I had imagined it would so I have to scrap it and begin at the beginning again. For every great image ideas, there are countless more that I wish I had never had.
Lastly, the final process is bringing it all together. Each of these steps is really more like a part of a gradient with soft edges overlapping as I move from the dark to the light with my vision. Sometimes this process runs start to finish at the speed of light and sometimes it takes weeks. One just never knows, however; being able to recognize the artistic stages and being able to recognize where I am on a creative journey is often the confidence boost I need to see something through so it is a very important part of the entire process.
Tell us about where your inspiration for your photos come from?
Inspiration for me comes from the beauty that surrounds us here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I often find my inspiration in the clouds, the mountains, the trees and from being on the Puget Sound. Being an island resident (Bainbridge Island) I often find that I am on 'Island Time' living an 'Island Life' which affords me a lot of time to explore and adventure our natural surroundings which have been a blessing on my photography journey.
Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
I primarily photograph nature, wildlife and landscapes, however; I spent years photographing individuals and am pursuing that once again. Here in Seattle we have an incredible artistic community made up of wonderful people and I am enjoying working within the arts community once again.
Do you have one photograph that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
I don't have a particular image that is my favorite, but if I had to select a favorite series, it would certainly have to be of Mount Rainier. To live in close proximity to a mountain that exceeds 14,000 provides a unique experience to photograph it from all angles and locations at any given time and the visual outcome is never the same, whether it be the snow, or lack of, the clouds or the vantage point. It is the one thing I never tire of photographing.
What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I think like every artist, we are affected by our life events, whether those be bright or dark, and I am no different. Most of my work has a real warm emotional appeal, however; I do like to work on dark and edgy photographs from time to time, mostly when I am collaborating on a shoot with someone else.
If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
www.facebook.com/jasonshgh and @jason__scott on IG (two underscores). My website is currently under development at this time but will be launching soon.
What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
I was recently contacted by the Quileute Tribe to work on some commissioned images of their land over at the coast. This is something that I am quite excited about as it involves giving back to the indigenous NW people, and not to mention their land is absolutely beautiful over at La Push, 1st Beach, 2nd Beach and Rialto Beach. One of my absolute favorite places in the PNW.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone :)
Anyway I can get it, however; I prefer a strong robust drip with 1 cream and 1 sugar.