Jeremiah Holt is a who photographer crafts moments of zen using unlikely locations and moments with often surprising results. His style reminds me of trimming a bonsai tree, he is constantly pruning and working to reduce his images to their most pure elements.
In our conversation he talks in depth about why photography is a mental illness, and why he’ll be carrying only a cardboard box in the near future.
Jeremiah was kind enough to take the time to participate in the following interview:
How long have you been a photographer? I started thinking about photography a couple of years ago. I took a lot of snapshots prior to that but I have no real art education. I took a few painting classes in community college but the focused exclusively on painting techniques with no real compositional or ART focus. So I took snap shots. I no frame of reference.
What kind of gear do you use? Sony A7 and a single lens. A Zeiss 55mm F1.8. I am actually on the verge of selling my wife in order to afford the Zeiss 25mm F2. I dig my wife but the 25 looks pretty cool.
Keeping the equipment package small is critical for me. A motorbike wreck several years ago left me physically disabled, so I can’t walk that far. Every piece of gear I add is just more steps I can’t take. I am a minimalist at heart too. Whatever I do I try to do it with less. More shit is more clutter. I’m just trying to take a decent picture. Lots of shit just obscures my path to the goal.
Minimalism is a reasonable consideration for a photographer. Photography is reduction. My photos all have too many distractions in them. EVERY SINGLE FUCKING ONE OF THEM.. Less is more on all levels.
How did you discover photography? I attempt a few photos here and there. Discovery is a dragon people chase.
How would you describe your style? Poor. There is massive beauty in the world. Massive.I have to think way more and press the shutter less. My job or.. a photographers job, whatever subject they want to shoot, is to point out some beauty that exists in the world.
Photography can’t improve on that beauty. The beauty is already there. The best part of photography is the quest to observe what is there. Seeing more attractiveness in this sour world than I saw before.
Every click should be an attempt at some reflection of that beauty. Everything else is snapshots. Nothing wrong with snap shots. Seriously. But snapshots ain’t photography.
What does photography mean to you? Photography, according to the American Psychology Association, is: “a disorder of the mind which is defined by ones need to permanently possess a transitory moment.
Photography is often associated with 2 uncontrollable desires. 1. The compulsion to turn any scene, no matter how unappealing, into a form of expression. 2. The compulsion to acquire or horde equipment or accoutrements associated with the making “images”. As the disorder advances photographiliacs becomes more easily identified as they become horribly overburdened with gear and their bodies began to fail under the crush of the collection they have amassed.”
My personal disease process has taken the “type b” path. I seek to make the fewest images while carrying virtually no equipment. Soon I will only carry a cardboard box, a single piece of film and a needle to make a pinhole with.
What makes you reach for your camera? The light. The subject could be a shithouse or a can of spam. Light is the medium. Ken Rockwell is a prolific shithouse photographer. His photos are mostly excrement but there are some really good ones in there too. He gets it.
Is there any subject matter that you off limits to you? If so, why? Things get complicated when you start talking about limiting art. Limits are good for artists. Simultaneously, limits are for pussies.
Reductiveism (is that a word?) makes good art. I’m into stuff that focuses mind like a laser onto one unified concept. Nothing extra. Just the concept. rendered in full, but noting extraneous.
All that said, if I want to make art that is worth anyone’s time ,especially my own time, there are no limits. A twig, a vagina, a Nazi… all those things combined? Who cares? Is the light good? Did I make something remarkable with the right intention in my head?
I don’t often seek out any particular subject and I tend to resist altering scenes when I find them. I suppose I bend toward the wandering style of photography in that regard.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos? Nahhh. Any journey worth a damn is about the journey. Arrival is a fallacy, so who cares where you start or where you end. Learn some. If you start at zero or ten or minus ten who gives a shit? If I knew more when I started I would have less to learn. Learning is the fun part. Don’t be afraid of talking to people on the road.
What is one question nobody has ever asked you—that you wish they asked you? When should I shut the fuck up and get out of the way? Nobody ever asks stuff like that. Folks are always trying to insert their identity, assert the self. We live among selfies. I aspire to get out of the way.
Ask Hiroshi Sugimoto what he thinks the role of self is in photography. I don’t know what he’d say. I really don’t, but I doubt he would call for more personal identity.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Safety third.
You can view more of Jermiahs images on his blog: badlybentphotography.com