A big thank you to Jake Stangel for his excellent interview. Jake also runs too much chocolate.
JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
JAKE STANGEL: Steel cut oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon, brown sugar, and half an apple. The trick is to cook the oats in milk, not water. A much richer experience.
JC: Are there any emerging artists inspiring you at the moment?
JS: Geordie Wood, Emiliano Granado, Daniel Shea, Thomas Prior, Emily Shur, Tim Barber. Collier Schoor but she’s not emerging really!
JC: Have you got some exciting plans for 2011?
JS: Yeah, you gotta have plans. I’m working on a large multimedia documentary project that looks at the history and current stage of water reclamation in the West, using the Colorado River as the prism in which to understand the scope and realities of the issue.
JC: What do you enjoy most about photographing people?
JS: Making a moment happen that was going to get passed by otherwise. Or calling attention to the features of a subject’s features or persona.
JC: How do you find juggling personal projects and commissioned work?
JS: The personal work is always happening, the commissioned work comes and goes. I try to push my personal work to the right audiences, to get commissioned work that mimics the kind of personal work I’d be shooting anyway. That’s the best. To get hired for a job that you’re hyped on and to get to shoot it in your style. My goal is to have no distinction between my personal work and assigned work.
JC: How tall are you?
JS: 6 foot.
JC: What equipment are you currently using?
JS: My main squeeze these days is a Mamiya 7 with the 80mm lens. If I’m shooting anything structural, or a portrait where I can work off a tripod, I use a Mamiya RZ67. If the budget isn’t there, I use a 5D MKII. Blegh.
JC: Any pearls of wisdom to recent photography graduates?
JS: Uhhhh let’s say that if you’re in high school, I recommend not going to a straight up photo school. The only photo school I’m cool with is SVA, they seem to have a great program. Instead, go to a school where you can study a mix of writing, photo, a little business, and whatever else you’re interested in. Don’t center your education around just photography, learn more about other disciplines and the world. Wherever you end up, find the photographer in your town/city that you most respect, and intern/work for them. This will be more valuable than your education. It will also let you figure out if you want to be a photographer or if you’re not that into it.
If you’ve already graduated, assist. But don’t JUST assist, be working on your own shit. All the time. Don’t fall into the trap of assisting forever. Frequently look at magazines and photo books. Get inspired. Show your work wherever you can, especially online. Network with other photographers, make friends. But don’t let photo consume your life. Start connecting with small mags and newspapers, shoot for them, then work your way up. Most important: H-U-S-T-L-E. Gotta hustle every day. Nobody is going to reach out to you. You gotta reach out to them. Stay positive, go on adventures, have goals, and constantly work to reach them.