Jason Machen: Blog https://www.machenphoto.com/blog en-us (C) Jason Machen [email protected] (Jason Machen) Tue, 20 Feb 2024 22:18:00 GMT Tue, 20 Feb 2024 22:18:00 GMT https://www.machenphoto.com/img/s/v-12/u934052850-o69644451-50.jpg Jason Machen: Blog https://www.machenphoto.com/blog 120 119 Presentation at OLLI UGA https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2024/2/presentation-at-olli-uga I recently had the best time speaking to OLLI at the University of Georgia about my journey in portrait photography. I started the talk with a photograph of me at age 3, and then I gave some tips that were hopefully relevant to both smartphone users and advanced camera users. I concluded the talk with discussion of my philosophy of portrait photography, and followed with a live model that everyone could take their new skills and practice. Behind the scenes photographs were generously provided by Gary Whiting.
As they used to say in the newspaper social pages, “and a good time was had by all.”

Jason Machen speaking to a group at OLLI UGA.

A student works with the model as Machen looks on.

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2024/2/presentation-at-olli-uga Tue, 20 Feb 2024 22:17:50 GMT
2024 Lens Culture Portfolio Review https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2024/2/2024-lens-culture-portfolio-review

This week started off with me receiving a rather pleasant portfolio review. I have gotten some over the years rather scathing. 🙂
If you care to read:
One of the beauties of reviewing a submission like yours is that I can see the range of ways that you are thinking/seeing as a portrait photographer. There are images that have a more documentary-style, images that are more studio-style, and then there's the tableau photograph that elicits a beautiful emotional/narrative idea about resurrection. It's great to see this range.

I think a lot of photographers/artists are seeking out the perfect gaze/interaction with the camera/viewer in their work. And image 1 really captures the tension and essence of moment that unfolded between you and the model. The softness of the light does a beautiful job of allowing those eyes to lance the camera, and touch me. No less, I am interested in the model's body language: slightly apprehensive with her raised shoulder facing the camera. It's a complex photo that has many narratives built into it.

Image 2 also dials us into the gaze of the model. And in this case, I am drawn to the sincerity with which she is looking up at the camera. There is a certain surrender to the moment that I am feeling in her expression. This photograph has a lot to do with how she is situated within the larger space of the photographic rectangle. And I don't quite feel that relationship is resolved. I would continue to play with the crop and/or the elements in the background that are being seen.

The longer I studied image 3, the more I discovered. Of course the frame of the window performs a strong service of framing the scene. But the soft focus elements in the background also do a beautiful job of drawing our attention right to the model. The highlight lines are beautiful. As a single image it is strong. I also wonder if you have other images that either work with the idea of people framed by a window and/or other pictures working with this model.

Image 4 is very arresting. From a purely visual standpoint, the composition is beautiful. I also find the balance of delicate tones is striking. And the gesture and concept behind the photograph is riveting. There's a strong sense of angst and pain that comes through. And in the context of what you have written, I can feel this in my own body. Nicely done.

Your talents clearly revealed themselves at an early age. Image 5 is an intense and moving photograph. The use of light is excellent. And the authenticity of your mother's gesture and expression is outstanding. It's a riveting moment. And I wonder if you have more photographs of her. I also wonder if you know of Mark Asnin's book "Uncle Charlie?" You might be interested in that project.

Your photographs are stirring, Jason. A lot of the images I see today feel blasé or somewhat neutral. But your photographs ask me to feel and think. And I appreciate that talent of yours."

See less
[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2024/2/2024-lens-culture-portfolio-review Mon, 12 Feb 2024 17:15:51 GMT
On being a has been https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2022/11/on-being-a-has-been Around 2017 or so I was messaging a young female photographer. I liked her work and purchased her self-published book of autoportraits. I found her look interesting and wanted her to pose for me so I asked her. She replied she had looked at my work and didn’t like it. Even as insecure as I am, I was still On surprised. She went on to explain what she didn’t like. It was not that most of my work was female nude as that was the bulk of what she did. She said that she did not like that my photography looked too perfect, and that it looked “vintage.” She said, If I wanted to go for a vintage look [she asked] had I ever shot any film? I thought for a few moments and replied that, I was not trying to be vintage but that I was vintage, that I was Sixty years old! I said as far as film I guessed I had exposed and developed tens of thousands of rolls of film both B&W and color, starting as a teen in the ‘70s. She asked why I used so many antiques in my photographs. I replied that the house I was using as a studio was built in 1850 and was filled with antiques and that I was not “trying” to look vintage, I was trying to look timeless but I was just using the props I had handy. We never worked together.

Recently, the word Vintage came up again. I was photographing a model who needed a new “book” of photographs; she wanted to get signed with an agency in Atlanta because of all the movie stuff here in Georgia. She specified what she wanted, I said cool, that I was out of practice but used to do it all the time. I said “back in the day,” other regional photographers would send their daughters to me for their model portfolios. So for her, I tried hard and got everything “just” right. I even went to one of the agency web pages she was interested in to see what they were using. When she saw the pictures she said they were just perfect and she was excited. She sent some of her favorites to someone in LA that was advising her. That person told her that our photos looked “vintage.” I thought to myself are we talking Richard Avedon vintage or other dead photographic greats I grew up on? He sent an example of what “everyone” is using now. I looked at them and said, Those look like high school senior photos! Not bad, nothing wrong with that. Just a girl standing in the shade, lens wide open, background out of focus. I said I can do that, it’s easier than what we did. Find some shade late in the day and I will shoot wide open. I said I hear the new iPhone does a great job, The software will blur the background for you, though not the same way as an 85mm 1.4-1.8 lens. In the end, I think she seems to have gone with what I did and what a photographer friend did. The other photographer did just the opposite of me but still what I would call Classic or maybe “Vintage.” I did white background with 3 lights for very flat lighting. The other photographer went with a dark background and single light for more sculpting and mood.

For some reason today I decided to look up the word Vintage. I admit, when someone says vintage and it refers to my work I hear “has been” and I still think that is the way many mean it. Search for vintage online and you will get pages of random old stuff on eBay and Etsy. One definition said, “Denoting something from the past of high quality, especially something representing the best of its kind.” I like that. As a noun, the Oxford dictionary says “the year or place in which wine, especially wine of high quality, was produced.” I do know that words can change meaning over time or context. I still haven’t gotten over calling something [the] shit and they meant it as a complement. Even back in my teens if we said something was “bad” that meant we really liked it. So from now on I will wear my “Vintage” label proudly and ask for my senior discount at the movie theater.

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2022/11/on-being-a-has-been Wed, 30 Nov 2022 20:15:21 GMT
Hoyt's Service Station https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2020/12/hoyts-service-station Hoyt's Service StationHoyt's Service Station Hoyt's Service Station
Bowman, GA late '70s
"Fill'er up? Yes Boss Man" was what I always heard pulling up here, growing up in the rural south. He would greet me as young master Jason. My mother had to explain this archaic greeting to me. My parents were addressed as Mr. James and Miss Vivian. "Three dollars worth and a plug of Day's Work [chewing tobacco]," my dad would say, or if my mom, "Three dollars worth and a pack of Pall Mall, could you check the water?" Everyone knew that if he did not have a customer or was not changing the oil in a vehicle you would likely find Hoyt Witcher sitting on a wooden Coca-Cola crate just like in this picture, likely dozing in the afternoon sun. Everyone sat on Coca-Cola crates to share the latest gossip. You needed to know how to balance on the crate and to chew your tobacco between comments, or if a child like me you needed to learn how to pour peanuts into the narrow neck of the Coca-Cola that you just pulled from deep inside the icebox. Hoyt must have had a good sense of humor he was always laughing. If you got a toy for Christmas that needed batteries Hoyt's was the only place you were going to find them on Christmas day or Sunday afternoon. One thing that is burned into the memory of neurotic little Jason's mind is Hoyt's was also where you would buy ice to make ice cream. He used to have an ice house containing big blocks of ice and when he would throw one of those blocks into the machine that would rip the blocks into smaller pieces I just knew it was going to rip his arm off every time. I was amazed at how ignorant of danger most adults were.
Museum-grade signed & numbered prints available.
Mamiya RB67 Kodak Verichrome Pan film.

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2020/12/hoyts-service-station Wed, 02 Dec 2020 17:06:11 GMT
What are you trying to say https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/12/what-are-you-trying-to-say What are you trying to say?

“Buddha is said to have given a "silent sermon" once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it. After a while, one of those present, a monk called Mahakasyapa, began to smile. He is said to have been the only one who had understood the sermon. According to legend, that smile (that is to say, realization) was handed down by twenty-eight successive masters and much later became the origin of Zen.” (Eckhart Tolle)
When I am getting a “professional” critique of my work one of the most common questions I get asked is some variation of, “What is it you are trying to say?” That happened just recently, after two paragraphs praising my work with words like: “Strong, beautifully lit, well-composed, and carefully considered,” we still came back to the question, “What are you trying to say?” (Actually, they did word it better than most.) Full disclosure, I was supposed to submit an “Artist statement” but I have quit filling those out. A few years back I decided that while I wish that the majority “understood/got” me, there is really only one person who needs to “get it” that is the person on the other side of the camera, it is only for we two I make the photograph, not for “likes,” or awards, or ribbons, those are all nice but my real audience is the person on the other side of the camera. The photograph ideally is an artifact of a shared moment of being.
What am I trying to say? Actually I have thought of that on and off for almost half a century, and a whole lot in the last decade, and today I think I finally have an answer. “If I could put it into words I wouldn’t need to make a fucking photograph!” I guess that will have to be my epitaph.

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/12/what-are-you-trying-to-say Wed, 04 Dec 2019 17:03:45 GMT
Descended from slaves https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/11/descended-from-slaves Growing up in the South

Bodie Fortson was descended from slaves, at least that is what I was remember being told as a child. After viewing the Sally Mann photography show at the High Museum of Art last weekend I again thought about what it was like for me, a white male, growing up in the late 50-’60s.
I guess he actually could have been the son of a slave given that Georgians back then didn’t seem big on obeying laws regarding slavery. I read the last slaving ship dropped its cargo in Jekyll Island in 1858. That was 50 years after it was illegal and 8 years after what I now call the “Studio House” was built. The few things I remember half a century later: Bodie and his wife Roxie lived next door in a shack with a dirt floor with a coal heater in the center. My mother would let me walk across the field to visit them. I had a pocket watch and was learning to tell time; I loved visiting and I would change the time on my watch so I could stay longer. I do not have any specific recollection other than I knew that I observed to always be kind to them. I recall he called me Master Jason. Now, the sound of that makes me a little sick to my stomach but I always understood it to be a salutation like Mister or Misses, as I would get letters addressed to Master Jason Machen, and white shop owners would also address me that way. I always said Sir and Mam to Bodie and his wife. I don’t know when Bodie and Roxie moved, I think I thought it was to someplace better. Later the child of the farmer who owned the land would put a house there.
As an adult, I would see Bodie, who now lived in a house not much better but at least it had a floor, in the city of Bowman standing on the street corner propped on his walking stick giving a welcoming smile to people he knew. By this time I had become extremely shy. It took all the courage I could muster to ask him if I could make this photograph using my Sears SLR and Kodachrome slide film. I think this would have been around the Bicentennial. I may have shot it for a contest I entered called a day in the life of America. From time to time I would awkwardly try to give Bodie and Roxie some things as my beginning family could spare.

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/11/descended-from-slaves Thu, 21 Nov 2019 17:11:25 GMT
OCAF Members show https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/7/ocaf-members-show Forgive me if I glow a little, I had such a wonderful evening at the OCAF (Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation) members show. Thank you to every one who came out, especially my daughter Chastity. I loved seeing one old friend (our friendship is old not us.) and many new ones. My photograph of Madison Lindfors sold during the first hour of the reception! One gentleman even compared it to a Vermeer painting! I don't know how much complementary wine he had consumed but I receive that complement with gusto. You will not be too surprised that the absolute highlight of the whole evening for me was hearing the kind peoples laudatory words about daughter Sara M Fogle work that also hung tonight. Sara had a conflict and could not make it, one of the disadvantages of owning a business, but I have been passing your kind words along to her. I may have levitated just a little while talking about she and her artwork, forgive me. Be sure to find her on the social media,as "Catechism: I Know Whom I Believed" is only part of a series.

Catechism: I Know Whom I BelievedBy Sara Machen Fogle Morning BathJason Machen, photographer Madison Lindfors, Model

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/7/ocaf-members-show Mon, 29 Jul 2019 17:25:04 GMT
Nirvana https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/5/nirvana
(TW sad animal story.)
Yesterday I saw the most heartbreaking thing. It was a lovely warm spring day and after yoga, I was in front of the garage working on the lawnmower. I went into the garage and I could hear a swarm of flies buzzing like they do when something is dead. I did not see or smell anything, I got my tools and returned outside. As I was working on the machine, a large, mainly white, Opossum came creeping out of the garage. I commented to “him” that I did not normally see him this time of the day. He just looked at me and I noticed he was dripping blood from his mouth. When he walked he had the most painful limp. Usually, when a 4 legged animal has a hurt leg they walk on three and lift up the injured one. However, this Possum was hobbling. He had a very uneven back and I wondered if his back was broken or maybe his hip. We looked at each other for several moments; I told him how sorry I was. My first thought was to go get the shotgun and put an end to his misery, but he seemed to communicate to me that he had one last place to go and would I just let him go in peace. He would move one step and rest, move one step and rest, each step seeming to take all the energy he had, and each time he would find just enough for one more step. It was like we had a shared moment, an understanding about death, and understanding how I too may know the feeling of one more battle, one more responsibility, or one more mile until I take my final rest.
[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/5/nirvana Mon, 20 May 2019 18:37:56 GMT
THE FAMILY DOCTOR 1974 https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/4/the-family-doctor-1974

Back in My Day…
The ongoing discoveries as Jason goes through old family photos my mother and grandmother saved.
Does this happen these days? This is a Christmas card from our family Dr. in 1973. I may have even made the photograph though I don’t remember now. On the back of the
card his wife is thanking my parents for all of the garden vegetables given to them during the year. My mother gave all of her doctors a refrigerator fruit cake for Christmas. It was delicious, I need to find the recipe. This is the same Doctor/Surgeon who birthed me and took out my tonsils, and I “think” may have even performed the Mastectomy on my grandmother. He was the only surgeon in the county. Today to my knowledge, we don’t even have a surgeon at all. (I know we have a visiting one before someone corrects me.) He wanted to birth Chastity but her mother got pissed off at him for a comment he allegedly, made and refused to go to him. You may have seen photos of me at age three in my doctor costume. When I had my tonsils out, Dr. Oneal showed me everything in the operating room and what it did before he put me under. His wife was the Anesthetist I think. Back then you had to spend the night in hospital to recover. I had ice cream and my father bought me a toy toaster from the Pharmacy across the street from the hospital. When I was a teen, the Dr. told my parents he would pay for me to go to medical school if I would come back to Elberton to practice. Another life – another time.

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/4/the-family-doctor-1974 Sun, 14 Apr 2019 16:20:03 GMT
Kate Moss photo sells for $26K+ https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/4/kate-moss-photo-sells-for-26k Kate Moss photo sells for $26K+
Let's face facts, I am not Mario Sorrenti and you may not be a 17 year old Kate Moss, but that is not to say that we can not create some beautiful, significant artwork. Who knows though, maybe one day our work will be on sale at Christie's for a small fortune. And while I can't promise we will sell at Christie's, I can promise to do my best for you to receive an experience and prints that are priceless. Of course we will never know if we don't shoot together.

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2019/4/kate-moss-photo-sells-for-26k Fri, 12 Apr 2019 13:36:17 GMT
Resilience https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2018/11/resilience “RESILIENCE is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them…” (Psychology Today)
I used to tell my girls that they could do anything; I still believe that. However, often the ebb and flow of existence can beat you down to a full stop. Without saying too much, (You will have to wait for the Machen Memoirs to come out in hardback.) Whether it is riding in a bike-a-thon on a broken down tricycle or something life threatening, Sara has always been determined. Sometimes life is so tough you can’t even fight back, so you get in your turtle posture and rest until the time is right and you come out fighting again, then: graduate college with a 4.0, set World records in Power-lifting, get a perfect score on your first tattoo studio’s health inspection, have people come from other states her unique artistic tattoos, then get another perfect health score on the new expanded studio which opened in an impossible time frame. While she did not do any of this alone, she had lots of help along the way, especially in this most recent success. I do think she has had so many supporters because they/we see something admirable, something noble and true in her that stirs us to want to be a part of something greater.

My daughters are my heroes, they both have overcome so many things to make the world a better place.

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2018/11/resilience Fri, 09 Nov 2018 18:04:18 GMT
On a roll https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2018/2/on-a-roll I feel like I am on a roll with Italian Vogue, I just had my 3rd photograph accepted to PhotoVogue and this one was added to the "Best of 2018."

VogueVoguePublished today in Italian Vogue's Best of PhotoVogue 2018 today

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2018/2/on-a-roll Fri, 09 Feb 2018 17:03:42 GMT
Vogue again https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2018/2/vogue-again For the second time I was honored to have a photograph accepted by PhotoVogue, an online feature of Italian Vogue. 
This image made in my studio is of the unequaled beauty of Astrid Kallsen.

Vogue AstridVogue AstridItalian Vogue - My 2nd photograph was accepted into PhotoVogue on Italian Vogue website today. Model is the without equal Astrid Kallsen
I would like you to participate in my art. Please message.

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2018/2/vogue-again Thu, 01 Feb 2018 18:35:52 GMT
VOGUE ITALIA https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/9/vogue-italia I was tickled to have my first photograph accepted to the online Vogue Italia today. Now to be accepted to the print version. 


[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/9/vogue-italia Tue, 26 Sep 2017 23:34:49 GMT
Kind Words https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/6/kind-words I am an artist, and to every artist I know, our art is a form of communication, so it is not surprising that I am always asking people what my art says to them. I recently asked a college art student, whom I hope will soon pose for me, her thoughts on my photography portfolio. I was so moved by her reply I wanted to share it with you.

"Your work is transcendent! I love the way you capture light on their bodies. All of them remind me of Greek goddess, beautiful and liberated. You are able to photograph their inner muse!
I personally adore the female form, it's what I've worked years to master in my art. Women are like flowers, all unique and pure perfection in every curve."

I wanted to yell, Yes she gets me!

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/6/kind-words Thu, 15 Jun 2017 15:55:56 GMT
Rangefinder contest 2017 https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/4/rangefinder-contest-2017 Just entered The Rangefinder magazine The Portrait competition. I was selected as one of the winners in Boudoir in 2014. I am going to try again with this beautiful photograph of Astrid.

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/4/rangefinder-contest-2017 Sun, 16 Apr 2017 14:50:38 GMT
The Watcher on The Wall https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/4/the-watcher-on-the-wall Carolina AnoleCarolina Anole Brothers! A hundred generations have defended this castle! It's never fallen before, she will not fall tonight! Those are Thenns at our walls! They eat the flesh of then they kill! Do you want to fill the belly of a Thenn, tonight? Tonight, we fight! And when the sun rises, I promise you, Castle Black will stand! Allister Thorne Game of Thrones
Carolina Anole on a flowerbed wall at The State Botanical Garden in Athens GA. 

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/4/the-watcher-on-the-wall Mon, 10 Apr 2017 23:30:30 GMT
Ribbons https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/2/ribbons I was delighted to have our art at the 8th Annual Photography Show at the Plaza Arts Center in Eatonton GA. Four of the six pieces we had hang are shown here, two received ribbons. I say "we" not in the royal fashion, rather as in the collaboration of myself and the subject. 

2017-02-17 18.11.562017-02-17 18.11.56

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/2/ribbons Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:16:10 GMT
Georgia Snow https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/1/georgia-snow You know I am as cynical and sarcastic as it gets sometimes, and am often so ashamed of living in GA. However, even though I too make fun of milk sandwiches, I actually appreciate the way we handle winter "storms." I see it as an inside joke. MOST of us are a little excited to get off early, excited that it will be a more challenging drive home, but we really are pretty sure we will make it. Several other little "fun" things. Most of us are smiling and laughing. The rednecks with their huge trucks feel like heroes, except for when THEY get stuck in a ditch showing out. And of course if we actually get snow, and the ,very rare in GA, snowmen/women/people/dragons and SNOW ICE CREAM!!!!!!! Really it is not "snow" that is the problem usually, it is ICE and ice is what we often get and we are in NO way prepared for ICE. After all, it is not uncommon for Christmas day to be 70+ degrees. We simply do not know how to safely handle it and we know it. It is the only sensible thing we do know.
So make fun of us Georgians and our dusting of snow. I will laugh with you while I read my book, feed my birds, drink my toddy or hot cocoa and enjoy my winter holiday.


[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/1/georgia-snow Sat, 07 Jan 2017 21:44:54 GMT
New web site https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/1/new-web-site I have had a web site almost as long as one could. I was one of the first adopters in our area, back when many worried how evil it was. Things change and my site host seems to have pretty much abandoned their business. Zenfolio seems to do what I need at a reasonable price. I know this is not much of a blog post but it is a start, a new year start. 

Best wishes for the new year to us all. 

[email protected] (Jason Machen) https://www.machenphoto.com/blog/2017/1/new-web-site Tue, 03 Jan 2017 02:14:48 GMT