James Wilson is this week’s featured Art Circle artist. He is a local photographer and clothing designer. He works as a tutor in the evenings, and is also currently interning with Basin Arts. Each week Basin Arts is featuring a different artist in the hopes that readers will get to know more about the diverse range of artists in our community.
We asked James to share his journey as a young artist and how he thinks about art and community.
My name is James Wilson and I am a photographer. I have always been interested in the inner makings of a camera and how it has the ability to freeze time in a frame forever. Now, I am able to do that professionally.
When I was younger I would waste the film in my mother’s CVS disposable cameras by either taking unnecessary pictures or actually opening up the camera before sending it to be developed and looking at all of the transparent brown images hidden within.
I began to further explore this interest when I graduated high school in 2017 and bought the Samsung Galaxy S 9. This phone had the same settings as DSLR cameras and it was a great device to help me learn the technical side of a camera before spending too much money on one. I learned about ISO, shutter speed, bokeh, and composition through YouTube and practicing on that phone. One of my most memorable shots from my cellphone is a picture of my little brother sitting on the edge of a parking tower in downtown Lafayette. I was able to capture the forest that is Lafayette as well as a thrilling moment that upsets me even now. He would not get down until I took the picture. Being that he’s safe now, I’m glad I did.
After a year, I was able to purchase my first camera for just under two hundred dollars. From there, I just shot everything and everyone until I ran out of storage. I then decided to challenge my creative mind with editing in photoshop and lightroom and elevate my pictures even more.
By 2020 I was able to have my first clients for portraits and graduations and this helped me to elevate my photography even more. My first official photoshoot was in February 2020 with two of my friends, Bria and Lori. Now, most people recognize me for my natural look and clarity.
At the end of 2020 I began to dabble in studio and editorial work. This just means that instead of using natural light I use controlled light, like flashes and LEDs. I didn’t have my own studio or flashes but I had a room, a sheet, and a lightbulb, and that was enough for me to try. The dim light bulb was not bright enough for my poor rebel t3 to capture that clear of a picture, but I was able to make something shake when I started to edit the picture of my test subject, Jeremiah. It is still one of my favorite picture to date.
A few months later and a lot of poor quality shots later, I purchased my first speedlight and softbox and began practicing. I now have 4 different color backdrop papers, a second flash, a newer camera and a center to set up and shoot for new clients.
When I’m not taking professional portraits of people, I like to take pictures of friends and objects and edit them to look like the old disposable film pictures my mother used to print by the dozen. The colors were never true and the clarity was never exact. I love it.
Throughout this whole experience I’ve learned that there is no specific type of photography. A camera allows us to stop time, to catch moments that may never happen again. It allows us to create scenes that do not naturally make sense, like a man in mid leap. Does he not appear to have the ability to fly? In that picture he is there forever in air. I am able to capture moments, like a graduation or a golden birthday, but I am also able to capture feelings and scenes that will make you stare forever. This is the art of photography and this is why I love it. I hope to continue in my craft forever.