Last post we got into the photographs of Schenectady, N.Y. shot in the 1970's by photographer Jeff Lansing.m
I'm interested in the creator behind the images. I just don't want to see someone's great photographs....I always want to know about the life...what were they doing at this point in their life when they were doing this work? I sent him a note about what he was up to during the time period that he did this project. He responded below:
TA: What were you doing at the time you shot the Schenectady series? Were you teaching? Shooting commercially? A student?
JL: I was a photographer working for a company called Tri-City Photographics back then, shooting truckloads of GE plastics parts. A fun job and I learned a lot. In my free time I wandered around Schenectady shooting with an old Yashicamat and an even older Canon rangefinder. I think everything I know about photography I discovered on those walks around the old neighborhoods of Schenectady.
TA: Whose work were you looking at...like who do you think was influencing you?
JL: I was a huge Edward Weston fan in those days. I lived in Monterey for a year and would drive down to Pt Lobos as often as possible to photograph. Seems obvious to me now I was channeling Walker Evans in the Schenectady photos. Beyond that I pretty much worked in a vacuum. The New Topographics is cutting edge to me.m
Eventually I realized how ill suited I was for a life as a professional photographer (I'm not nearly aggressive enough) so I did the next best thing: I became a state worker. 30 years as a photographer for a state agency- paid the bills and helped me raise a family but kind of boring. I have always continued to work on personal projects, these are the things that keep me sane I think.
TA: What are you up to these days?
JL: The Schenectady project is a trip back. I tried to scan as much as possible before I retired since I don't have a film scanner at home. I was surprised at the results. Pleased really with how well the images held up after all these years.
Now that I'm retired I'm more involved than ever. I try to work close to home and make images of the world I live in. Currently I'm working on a similar project on the city of Rensselaer which has the same feel of an old city with established neighborhoods. I'm fascinated with what people do with their little 70 x 150 lots, and I love to witness how they make it their own and how their personality shows though their property.
Looking back (although I'm not done looking ahead yet), in a subtle way I suppose photography has been the thread that has tied it all together.
Photograph copyright Jeff Lansing. See Jeff Lansing's photography HERE.