One of my favorite neighbors whom I’ve never met is Jason Philbrook from Rockland. Jason is a photographer; you can see his work here.
I know a number of technical people who work to support their photography habit. Most of them have the advantage over the rest of us because they clearly understand what all those buttons do. Jason takes that a step farther, concentrating on film cameras and old equipment.
“I got bored with digital cameras and the computer challenge that goes with them,” he said. “I still use them, but I also like the hands-on craftsmanship challenge that goes with film and old gear. I understand the physics and optics well so I do not stumble to understand those things. I can focus single-mindedly on the image rather than the tools.”
Jason started by taking sports and group photos in high school. He now concentrates mostly on nature and family, often including his two young daughters in his shots. “I was inspired by Eliot Porter’s ‘In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World,’” he said. This book pairs Porter’s photographs with passages from Henry David Thoreau as a manifesto for the preservation of nature.
“Since then I’ve gone off the deep end studying photo history. Contemporary art photography styles are poor communicators,” Jason said. Like so many of the greats of the last century, Jason’s work exudes a profound love of nature and creation, which is—perhaps—the very thing that so much modern photography misses.
It is clear that Jason knows the landscape of the mid-coast region intimately. His great familiarity resonates in every image. Just as he doesn’t have to struggle to find the right exposure, he seems to go unerringly to the right place to catch the essence of the day, the weather, and the place.
“It’s sort of against the grain to presume I can impart an exact message but viewers should receive some sort of ‘aha’ glimpse of nature,” he said.