Jake Sherman’s I’m New Here exhibit held court at the Nuvango Gallery for the month of May and we caught up with the artist before the exhibit ended to get to know the man behind the camera. Even though the exhibition is gone, you can still view and purchase Jake's photographs and print packs online here and get to know him through our end of show interview.
Nuvango: Do you remember the first photo you took that really struck you? One that confirmed your suspicion that photography was a medium you wanted to work in?
Jake Sherman: Hmmm, good question. I’ve been taking photos quite a while and it’s hard to pinpoint one specific photo that set it all into motion for me. One summer, I was planting trees up North and I decided to bring only one analogue camera with me. It was an old Canon SLR that my grandfather had given to me - all metal, heavy and built like a tank - so it was appropriate for the bush. I would bring it with me every day to work, and shot a ton of film. On every day-off, I would go into town to a 1-hour photo lab and I’d get all my film processed and get 4x6 prints made. I bought a cheap photo album, and filled it with prints and would pass it around camp for people to look through before we started our next shift, and it actually seemed to have a positive effect on group morale. That album that I’ve got full of photos from that season will be a prized possession for me for the rest of my life.
N: You've mentioned you like to acclimatize to a city before taking any photos, how did you come to find that process?
JS: This came to me through shooting photos at home in Toronto actually. I find it challenging to be able to walk around a city I know so well and find things to photograph that feel new and interesting to me. When travelling, it can be overwhelming to be in a new place or a new city with a camera. When everything is new, my instinct has been to just shoot photos of everything. I’ve been working a lot to slow down my shooting process, to think and concentrate before taking the photo. I try now when in a new place to get my bearings of the visual landscape before I take a bunch of photos, in an effort to make photos that would be just as interesting to a local of the area, as to people from home who share my perspective.
N: Could you name a few photographers or artists that have inspired your process & how they've influenced you?
JS: Alec Soth is a photographer that I’ve recently discovered and really connected with his work. He had an opening in Toronto for Contact as well and I had the pleasure of meeting him and hearing him speak about his work. He’s one of these photographers who made a career out of not pigeonholing himself into any one sub-genre of photography, but really just gets to shoot what he wants. His work feels very personal and the variety of subject matter is really inspiring to me as someone who likes to shoot a little bit of everything.
N: So far in your travels, what has been the easiest city to photograph? Easy in the sense that its aesthetic aligned with yours, and was an approachable setting capture
JS: Cuba for sure. Santiago de Cuba I was like a kid in a candy shop. Amazing light, incredible colors everywhere.
N: How does your process differ from your client work to your personal work? Are there differences and similarities in how you produce work for work vs for pleasure?
JS: Definitely Differences. Most jobs for clients I shoot digital because no one wants to pay for film and its more convenient time-wise. To be honest I’m not usually all that passionate about work for clients. It’s not that I don’t put the effort in, I always do my best but it’s hard to find work shooting photos of stuff that I’m passionate about so it kind of just feels like work, which is fine. My personal work feels completely different. I find it exciting and fun and engaging and I love to do it. I’m happy to spend all of my spare time shooting and editing photos and putting in work. I try and always have a camera loaded and a roll of film on the go. I have a number of cameras and try and always have one on hand.
N: Can you comment on Toronto's current photography scene, and how you've seen it change over the years?
JS: There are some really good people making some really great photos in this city. To be honest I’m just kind of dipping my toes into the scene but there are a number of photographers in this city that I really admire and respect. As far as how it's changed, I think Instagram has really elevated the game in a lot of ways. There are a few photographers and image makers (content people?) that have amassed like tens of thousands of followers and have really built careers around their social media presence. I know for me, a lot of jobs actually come through having been discovered on Instagram, which is pretty interesting to me. It’s nothing new, it's been this way for a little while, but it's cool when something like my social media presence leads to new and interesting opportunities IRL.