Through the Lens

For photographer James Crissman 15C, life is an endless exploration of artistic perspective.

By Michelle Valigursky

James Crissman 15C is an Emory University student with an eye on photography as a career. EmoryWire caught up with Crissman and posed these questions about his connection to his art and the future of photography:

What role do you think you play as a photographer – artist, historian, journalist, a combination, or something else entirely?

I like to think of myself first and foremost as an artist, because I like to use the camera less as a machine and more as an instrument. However, I think that my role as a photographer is ever-changing depending on my motivation and inspiration. My ultimate goal is to become an outstanding photographer, whether I'm photographing the landscapes of Yosemite or a kindergarten graduation.

Why do you think photography is a good medium for your expression?

Photography challenges me. Photography throughout history has always been in this kind of limbo between art and function. Now, more than ever, this is true because just about everyone has access to a camera of some kind and an unlimited amount of images. It is a challenge to define my photography as an art form because we live in an age where photography is so trivialized by excess. I enjoy facing this challenge and pushing myself to reach innovative ideas through my photography.

Are you a purist who focuses on capturing natural moments and lighting, or do you like to experiment digitally with your images?

When I started out, to make my pictures stand out I would digitally enhance them. But now, I find more and more that I like how my images look better when they are portrayed as both my eye and the camera perceive them.

A favorite question for creative visionaries --what do you notice when you walk down a street?

Relationships. Interactions between people, objects and their environments always exist. Nothing is independent in any setting, but there will always be an interaction of some kind. I think it's really cool to see how objects or people can be transformed depending on their surroundings.

If you could choose any moment to capture in an image, what would it be?

The moment when something completely dark becomes light. For example, when the sun first breaks the horizon, when light first enters a darkened room, etc. This is something that we all recognize from moving images, but I've contemplated how to capture this transition in a single image.

To view more of Crissman’s work, visit his web photo blog.


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Michelle Valigursky