Interview with photographer Jamie Kripke

Photographer Jamie Kripke (@jk) will be speaking at @madelife for an Ello-sponsored Caffeinated Mornings talk September 4th in Boulder. Come listen, sip coffee, and connect with some of the most innovative creatives in the greater Boulder/Denver area, all before breakfast. Because...

It’s free.
We’ll have Ello stickers waiting for you.
And Jamie - @jk on Ello - will be there.

Join the party:
2000 21st Street, Boulder, CO 80302

For those of you who can’t make it, here’s a brief interview with the man behind the camera. For those of you attending: Get excited.

How did you go from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing it full time, for a living?

It was a long, concerted effort that required (and still requires) a deep commitment, and acceptance of uncertainty. After a brief photo internship at Powder Magazine in 1996, I started working in the stock photo industry (like Corbis or Getty Images, but much smaller), which led to a full time assisting job with one of the photographers from the agency, which led to meeting producers from San Francisco, which led me to San Francisco. Once I was there, I started working as a freelance assistant for a variety of photographers in the city, and eventually found a full time position with someone that was very busy shooting for all the new dot coms. It was around 1998, and we were working on shoots almost every day, both in and out of the studio. Over those 3-4 years in the Bay Area I learned a ton about production, lighting, and how to run a shoot. In 2004 I started getting some small magazine assignments that allowed me to gradually phase out the assisting work. That’s the hardest leap to make, as a good assisting gig can provide stability and income, but ultimately it won’t get you to being a full time shooter. You need to get your book together and take a leap into the unknown. There were many times during that transition phase where I thought about quitting and doing something else, but I stuck with it. I’ve been working full time ever since.

What are a few of your favorite things to photograph?

It’s less about what I’m photographing, and more about how I’m photographing. Am I working with a person or team of people to come up with a new way to shoot something? Or am I wandering around the edges of a small rural town by myself, looking for things that interest me? Or am I experimenting with new ways of lighting portraits in the studio, or trying out new tools in Photoshop to see what they might do? My favorite thing about photography is its ability to offer an incredibly wide variety of experiences. I could never stay interested in shooting one thing for very long.


What technology/software/camera gear do you use (if you don’t mind us asking?)? When you travel, what do you take with you? Is there anything special to help you stay focused?

I’m sort of a minimalist, and have never been interested in owning multiple cases full of expensive equipment. My standard camera kit includes two camera bodies and four lenses. I also have a lighting kit which is lightweight, powerful, and will work almost anywhere. I also have a medium format film camera that I’ll use for personal work, as well as a small rangefinder that I’ll use when I want to travel light. For the motion work, if it’s a smaller project, we’ll shoot with DSLR’s. For bigger projects, it usually makes sense to shoot with an Arri or Red systems.

What motivates you to continue taking pictures?

Really, it’s the one thing I have always done for most of my life. So I don’t really think about what’s driving my need to create, I just keep doing it. Which I guess is what allows me to keep doing it?

We have to ask: what do you enjoy about being on Ello?

The community of creatives and the work they are sharing is always inspirational and frequently mind-blowing. When I’m needing some fresh ideas to get me started on a new project, Ello is my first stop. Then, if I’m lucky I’ll eventually come back a few days later with something I can post myself, to add to the ongoing conversation.


Do you have a nugget of advice for aspiring photographers?

Buy good equipment that will last you as long as you own it.
Only buy what you really need. Keep your overhead low.
Look at photography, but also outside of photography — painting, sculpture, music, illustration — all of it will give you ideas for how and what to shoot.
Keep shooting.

Why should people come to your Caffeinated Mornings talk, other than to throw roses at you?

Ha! Well, I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the pictures I’ve made. Instead I’ll be more focused on the work that has inspired me over 30+ years. So they should come to get inspired, hopefully learn something, then use that little morsel to go make something rad!