Rock n Roll . . . in Infrared???
. . . oh yeahhhh
Jon Blacker is an Infrared artist that uses his IR camera to take Infrared portraits of musicians.
His monochrome images capture a very cool perspective.
Welcome, please tell us about yourself and your background
I was always the kid in high school who had a camera with him. My father had attended Rochester Institute of Technology for Photo Tech in the late 1950s, so we had cameras around the house and I just picked one up and began exploring the medium. While my father didn’t pursue photography as his career, my interest definitely started with him. In the 11th grade I shot a car accident on the way home from school one day and took the bus to the local weekly paper. A couple of weeks later, the chief photographer phoned me and offered me a paid summer internship, and thus began my life in this business. I have been a freelancer for almost my entire career, including the work I do and have done for Reuters, The Canadian Press, Major League Baseball, Sports Illustrated
How long have you been a photographer?
I would have to say that I started shooting professionally full time around 1989, so roughly 25 years
How long have you been shooting Infrared?
I began exploring shooting in infrared in early 2008. I had previously seen some infrared portraits by Minnesota photographer Tom Dalin and put the concept of shooting infrared portraits in my mental ‘I might use that some day’ folder.
What types of Infrared images do you make?
I make lit, formal portraits, primarily of musicians, in infrared. The concept for my initial project stemmed from being inspired by Tom’s work, combined with my appreciation of tattoos as art and my love of music.
How is your IR photography received by your clients?
The book concept was well received by both the publisher who offered me a book contract and by the readers and fans of the work.
What is your best photographic achievement?
I would have to say that managing to secure a traditional publishing contract for Musical Ink, a book of photographs with the current state of the publishing industry. With traditional publishers being very selective about what they take on, having them embrace my infrared portrait work and publish it in a beautifully printed and bound volume is a significant accomplishment
What do like best about IR photography?
Specifically with my subject matter, I love the way infrared contrasts the tattoo ink against the skin; with the infrared spectrum of light being reflected off of the skin and being absorbed by the ink, this makes for some very dramatic portraits.
What do you find most challenging about IR?
Initially it was getting the lighting right; the IR spectrum manages different types of lighting very differently, requiring much more tungsten or fluorescent light to get the same exposure with daylight or flash.
If you could go anywhere in the world to shoot IR, where would you go?
If you could pass on just one tip about IR, what would it be?
Watch your lighting and exposure. If under exposed, your images will be very muddy.
Do you have any projects currently going you would like to discuss?
I have started Volume II of my Musical Ink project, making portraits of more musicians who didn’t make it into the first book.
You can see more of Jon’s works here.