“Bright”: an Interview and Polaroid Gallery by Jarred Reno
Jared Reno is an artist that we’ve worked with a few times. Did you see the Kickstarter video that led you to buying this Almanac? He was the director. Below is an interview and a gallery of portraits he did.
Jared’s Bio: My great-great grandfather was a Vaudeville escape artist known as The Great Reno. I am also an artist, just not quite that bad-ass. I specialize in film and polaroid photography. I tend to let the edges of light and dark lead the focus of the viewer. I am part of a generation that is looking to the past and clinging to well-intentioned art, process & craftsmanship which can easily be overlooked in this day and digital age.
We are honored he has produced a “Polaroid Gallery” titled Bright this month. You can find more of Jarrod’s work at www.jarrodreno.com
Interview with Jarred Reno:
Do you have a favorite photo you’ve taken? (I’m cheating, I’ve heard this story and LOVE it):
There was a day that I was home with Olive, our oldest but at the time she was maybe 2 years old. She wasn’t feeling well that day and I had been sititing on the couch with her just relaxing and noticed that the light was just pretty amazing coming in from a window. I had also just gotten a really special pack of Polaroid film, it was made with left over chemicals from the Polaroid warehouse when they shut down, this film, after the photo was taken would fade to black within 12-24 hours unless you cut open the polaroid and let it dry out to stop the development. So anyhow Olive was leaning up against a window and for just a second looked right at me, she had a very somber look about her. I hit the shutter and the Polaroid popped out and me and Olive sat there and watched it develop. After about 2 minutes it was fully developed and as I sat there looking at it, knowing that this shot because of this special film, will fade to complete black within the next 12 hours. I realized that I had a choice to make.
Do I cut the polaroid open to stop the chemicals so I can share it with other people?
Its a moment from my precious daughters life I’d be able to look back on for the rest of my life?
Or do I let it fade away and be one of two people that saw and experienced this moment captured?
My eyes filled up tears from the overwhelming feeling I got while looking at it and realizing some important things. To me it was the purest photo I’ve ever taken, I feel like everything that should have been captured, was. And honestly by ‘chance.’ She could have blinked or turned away.
I was soooo torn…. It just looked amazingly beautiful in my hands. The darks so dark, the detail so detailed, the light so perfect, her face, her eyes were speaking to my heart and I had no words to describe it. If I stopped the development I’d be able to show people and hopefully pass on something good in that…. if this thing fades to black… will it just be a waste? will I regret it? Tess, my wife wouldn’t even be able to see it.
This film illustrated something amazing to me. My daughters life, as is ours, is fleeting, something I’ve alway known in my head but now fully realized and felt it in my heart. Our moments in life are fleeting. To most of us, we have moments we wish we could re-live. I bet anything that those moments were FULL of LOVE and emotion. I bet anything! Not to put aside moments of sadness/pain because those are just as important in life and as in art!
I captured a true moment with true emotion. Olive was sick that morning, she was somber and that was shown in the photograph. The image made me FEEL. What I realized was…. the POLAROID in itself was not important and is not eternal, but the MOMENT itself was important and eternal.
The point was the moment! Not capturing it for later. But experiencing it while it happend! I felt so grateful!
We need to seriously stop and experience moments.
So, I let the polaroid fade and found so much joy in letting it go knowing that the moment was what was important and its something I’ll always have:) WOW. Though, I did scan it multiple times over the course of its fading and with getting these printed off and mounted in succession I hope for it to have an impact.
How do you attempt to bring a fresh artistry to portraits? Meaning, your pictures look very unique. What’s your approach that you think makes them such? Do you have guiding principles?
Light. That is the first thing I look for. I’m drawn to where light begins to fall off into shadows or where beams of direct light cut through shadows. It makes for interesting photos. Light reveals shape and dimension… I’m constantly looking for interesting light and that is the basis for all my photos. 2nd, is creating a mood, most of the time I like a quiet, introspective mood in my photos, it creates a bit of mystery, a look into someones spirit.
Where did the passion for photographing people/ weddings come from?
Growing up I’ve always loved sifting through thousands of photos that my parents had taken throughout their lives. I love it. I love seeing and feeling emotions from the past. That is what sparked my desire to shoot portrature and weddings specifically. People and relationships are what life is about and to highlight humanity and beauty is an amazing and important thing.
Why do you choose to use older equipment when camera technology has come leaps and bounds?
I started out with old cameras. When Olive was born I knew it was time to get a camera and just happened to have a really old Polaroid camera on my shelf and figured out that it worked. I loved the sense of timelessness it gave. The toned down colors and the soft focus. It felt more real than sharp digital cameras. It also made me slow down and be really precise with my photography, its expensive to shoot polaroid and film. Ive had a lot of practice anticipating moments and reacting when I need to by pressing the shutter button. I think through shots more than if I shot digital. I love that it forces me to be intentional. Also, the cameras look, feel and sound awesome. Each one of them is so different from the others.
What’s your favorite vintage piece of equipment you have?
Thats hard to say… Polaroid wise is my Polaroid 195 which is from the ’60s but was their professional model. Its amazing. Film-wise is my Mamiya RZ67 which shoots medium format film and gives such an amazing depth and clarity to photos. Its definitly the foundation of my gear
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