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A Snapshot of Studio JoJan

Jo Jan I was very excited when I ran into Joseph Jones several weeks ago, as it was the perfect opening for me to help shine the light on one of Antigua and Barbuda’s most talented photographers. Mr Jones is someone I have had the pleasure of knowing for several years, as a former Xtreme member myself, and one of his clients.

He was originally born in Dominica, but is as Antiguan as one can get. He has been a photographer for well over 30 years, and recently opened his own studio – Studio JoJan, at the corner of Long Street and Corn Alley in the heart of St John’s.  

The name of the business is a combination of the first syllable of his name and the first syllable of his partner, soul-mate and mother of his children, Janet. Jones describes his wife as the most gentle, kind-hearted but strong and confident woman he knows, and describes their relationship as the perfect partnership, since they have been partners in everything.

The "Photo Guru" was kind enough to answer my many questions and let me in on some personal details.

• Who is Joseph Jones?
• I am simply a husband, father and friend.  I try to always be very supportive and the kids will add that I am the leader of the flock.

• How did you get involved in photography?
• I bought my first camera when I was on vacation in London and did the usual tourist thing snapping pictures of everything. I’ve never seen any of these first photos, as I left them all at the drug store in London.
• My next big subject was of course my new sweetheart and later recording those precious moments of a new and growing family.

• Where did you work prior to the opening of your studio?
• I had been an employee at the airport for most of the early years of my development as a photographer. I eventually left that and I've been operating as an assignment photographer for the last eight years. I do a wide range of commercial, editorial and event photography and this will continue.
• Janet, my wife and business partners, has been involved in the hospitality industry for many years and brings a wealth of experience in quality customer service to the business. She has been my photographer apprentice for the last several years now. We also do weddings, private portrait commissions, and have also had some success selling fine art photography prints to various clients. The studio and gallery is an ideal opportunity to offer our services to a broader clientele who can benefit greatly from what we bring to the market.

• Do you have a central focus or theme?  What is your main aim?
• Studio JoJan is very focussed on quality - quality of customer service and quality oJo Jan workf product delivered to the customer. One has only to visit our operations, and this commitment is immediately evident once you walk in the door. Sample any of our packages and we guarantee your satisfaction. Period. Our studio logo tagline is "Picture Perfect Portraits". Our vision is to provide our clients compelling, eloquent images at affordable prices.

• How did you get involved in photography during Carnival and did you specifically work with Xtreme mas troupe or were you freelance?
• I have always been involved in mas during Carnival. Many people don’t know this, but I have built with some of the older bigger names in mas. I have also been photographing mas for some time. When Sandra (from Xtreme) asked me to come on board it was a natural, and yes, I worked freelance and only made money from whatever prints were bought.

• How long have you been married?  Tell us about your family.
• I’ve been married for 27 years now. I am one of those lucky guys to be surrounded by beautiful girls 24-7/365. Janet gave me four beautiful princesses and has been an amazing companion throughout our various challenges and adventures. We all get on quite well and everyone’s usually quite supportive of each other.  I’m the one who usually gives trouble sometimes being the disciplinarian. All the girls have various creative talents and have all shown a tendency to develop their artistic skills as careers. The eldest is married, the second engaged, and they both say they’ve found a guy like their dad. The second set are still just giggling.

• Does being a couple make it easier or harder to work together?
• Janet and I have done so much together that the distinction "work" probably does not really apply. We just live together all the time. The only time we have been apart is when we have been at work for other people.
• So yes it makes it easier. The same principles of respect and communication apply.

• Are any of your children aspiring photographers?
• Both Kafi and Sara have shown some skill but no real aspiration as they have their own goals.

• How long does each piece take?  How do you go about selecting your subjects or subject matter?  Do you prefer still-life, portraits, artistic, aerial?
• The time factor can vary widely. Sometimes I’m lucky and could spot something and capture it relatively quickly. Most times if I’ve pre-visualised something the process can be pretty drawn out, especially with landscape work. I’ve worked on certain pieces for weeks. The easier ones normally involve a few hours. I have no particular method for selecting subjects per se. If something catches my interest I will eventually point my camera at it. I struggle with theJo Jan work term "still-life". Life is never still. Things are constantly moving and changing. I find my greatest inspiration in these moments of transition. I like my landscape work, as it appeals to me on many levels. Solitude, patience, being in a moment of transition, the technical skills and of course the big reward of a successful image.


• Have you done any sort of sea-related or underwater photography?
• I photograph the classic yacht regattas and Sailing Week, and I have done underwater photography for the North Sound Marine Survey project and the reef ball project.

• Do you have a preference: black and white, coloured, digital?  Tell us more.
• I started out with a strong bias for colour work and did very little black and white work. Another reason for this was the difficulty in processing black and white film, as I opted not to go the traditional route of a darkroom set up.
• I definitely prefer digital, as it is so much more versatile than film. I am now able to do some great black and white work because of the digital vs chemical process. I handle all aspects of my production from image capture to image optimization to final printing. I can process any given image in a variety of ways, for example as black and white or sepia or some other tone, and print to various media including canvas.

• Have you had formal training or is it all raw talent?
• I come from a family line with some very talented people. I also studied with the New York Institute of Photography and have ingested quite a few photography books and magazines.


• Have you had exhibitions of your work?  Where and when?
• I had a monograph of about 40 pieces of landscape work exhibited at the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda for the 21st anniversary of independence.

• Where can your work be viewed?
• Studio JoJan is also a gallery showcasing artwork from myself and Janet.

• Does your studio focus purely on the commercial aspect of photography or is there an artistic emphasis? How do you distinguish or incorporate the two?
• The studio provides the usual services such as passport photos and portraiture to the general public. It is also now a more convenient base for some of my commercial work, as opposed to my home, which was the case prior to opening the studio. My art is in producing images which are eloquent and compelling, and I bring this mindset to any assignment.

• Has the economic climate had any sort of impact on your work?
• On my work - no, as I’m still willing to work as hard as I’m able to. On my economy yes, as I’m unable to work as hard as I’m willing to. ;-)

• Do you find that you are able to be expressive with your pieces?
• Yes, definitely. An artist to me is one who can express a feeling through a medium in such a way that it elicits a corresponding response in the person experiencing the work.

• Is there a common theme throughout your work?Jo Jan work
• Beauty revealed by light.

• Have you done any time-lapse photography?
• I had actually considered it for the solar eclipse of '98, but conditions where I was were not conducive. I’m more interested in long exposure work and have been mulling over a couple of ideas for several years now.


• What advice would you give to aspiring photographers/artists?
• Photograph what you love and enjoy.

• Do you have other artistic interests or is it just photography for you?
• I used to draw until I started working.

• What sort of impact has your work had on society?
• There is definitely a huge impact when people first see what I’m doing.  Most can’t believe the scenes are from Antigua and Barbuda and readily admit to not realizing that Antigua & Barbuda is so beautiful.  And this reaction comes from seeing the natural beauty of Antigua and Barbuda and our local culture and customs captured at their best.  I’m humbled to see people in such awe of my work.

• Customers find it a great thing to be able to decorate their homes and offices or get that special gift and it is all 100% Antiguan. My work has been given as official gifts to dignitaries many times. Also, the pieces will get more valuable over time. Some of the images simply cannot be repeated because of development etc. So I’m also capturing things about Antigua that are disappearing before our eyes. I would like to think that this better appreciation of our beautiful twin-island state will somehow lead to a personal commitment to better preserve our natural heritage. I can only hope so.


• Do you think that more should be done to get more young people involved in photography? Do you think perhaps it should be taught as a separate subject in schools?
• I once read that there have been child prodigies in every art form except for photography. I’m not sure why this is so, but probably now with the proliferation of cheaper digital technologies, we should get kids involved early and someday correct this dubious distinction.

• Do you think that Studio Jo Jan would hold workshops or training sessions in the near future for persons who are interested in photography?
• Most definitely. I’ve had numerous requests for this.

• Have you, or do you plan to publish a book… a collection of your pieces?
• I have just finished a limited edition self published book featuring images from the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta races. It is called ‘Winds abeam... Sails Aloft. Classic Yacht Sailing in Antigua & Barbuda.’ It is only available for online purchase at Blurb.com. Anyone interested in buying a copy can contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 268 774 7317.

• Is there a website via which your work can be viewed?
http://www.josephjonesphotography.com

• What is next for Studio Jo Jan?
• Studio JoJan has been set up to offer a great experience for the customer. We benefit the client by providing a superior product, in great surroundings at fair prices. Anyone seeking studio services can have a first class experience at Studio JoJan for similar prices to anywhere else. We offer the widest selection of backgrounds and client empathetic postproduction as standard.  We also offer a high end portrait product specific to creating that classic look for the individual, couple or family. We will remain focused on providing the best benefits to the clients by introducing new services and innovations.

• Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
• Behind the latest Nikon camera, as passionate as ever.

 

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3 Comments In This Article   

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THE JONESES HAVE KEPT IT UP!!!

#3 kk » 2009-10-21 13:03

I went into Studion JoJan over the summer and was completely BLOWN AWAY!!!....it's state of the art, very MODERN and chic....gives u that professional feel, with service to match!!!....the customer service was great, PLUS they have an on site makeup artist...ALL IN THE FAMILY!!! talk about double/triple/quadru ple threat!....KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK ANTIGUANS!!! good luck with all your future endeavors!! Everyone should definitely try to keep up with THE JONESES :) xoxo
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kk

Fabulous

#2 Lorraine » 2009-10-16 02:21

I second that. Keep it up!
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Lorraine

Great point of view

#1 Roddy » 2009-10-16 01:11

Joseph, your work is excellent and we share the belief that it is extremely important to show Antiguans the natural beauty of our island!

Regards
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Roddy

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