Jon-Marc Seimon

Feb 20th, 2018

Jon-Marc Seimon


Jon-Marc Seimon has been taking photos since the day he received a Canonet for his thirteenth birthday, back in the seventies. After a short stint in the fashion and show-biz studio during the late 1980s, he got sidetracked by the internet where he’s enjoyed success as an Experience Designer working with many NYC ad agencies. He lives in the wooded hills north of NYC and is married to Duston Spear (filmmaker and writer). They have two daughters and four grandsons. And two dogs.

Tell us about the works that we’re featuring?

This portfolio is deeply personal. The images are drawn from a wide variety of contexts, over a period of time spanning many decades. In revisiting them here, I’m largely detaching them from their points of origin and using them as the foci for meditations on both life and my own lifelong love of a certain type of photography.

How does technology affect your work?

I grew up with film, in darkrooms. So the technologies available to us today are enormously liberating—I am not one of those “romance of film” photographers! I often feel that shooting RAW is equivalent to going out and taking pictures, and THEN deciding what kind of film to put in the camera. That said, all the images in this portfolio are very old school, and harken back to traditional processes—but in many cases, they would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the old way.

What are you working on right now?

Trees. Honoring and respecting them, and working with communities of people in ways that engage them in the process of making the pictures, and perhaps make them think about their environment a little differently.

What other forms of art inform your work?

Well first, I have to pay some homage to the photographers I regard as my spiritual mentors. Koudelka, Salgado, Henri Cartier-Bresson (of course), Fukase and Hosoe, and these days, JR, whose expansiveness I find wondrous. In terms of other art forms: first and foremost, I am engaged in a deep ongoing relationship with the paintings of an artist named Duston Spear—who happens to be my wife. Learning from her how to trust oneself, even when not exactly understanding what it is that one is doing, has been one of the most valuable lessons of my life.

How do you get your practice out when you’re stuck?

I go into the woods behind my house and let my camera lead me around. There’s always something interesting out there. I usually spend two or three hours, and I frequently delete the cards without even looking at them, because that’s not the point. The point is looking, using my eyes, seeing around things, and engaging, purely and fully. The pictures from these sessions are mere residual artifacts.

Has your work ever gotten you into a dangerous situation?

Yes. Over the past twelve years, I’ve been documenting a long-term project monitoring the affects of climate change on a complex and vulnerable ecosystem in the Peruvian Andes. The location is remote—we have to take everything up on pack horses—and the altitude is extreme. Combine that with fierce mountain weather, and the risks can be pretty high.