Jim Graham is one of the artists featured in PL130 Gallery's photography show Off Topic, a photo show about the unassigned work of photojournalists who worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News since the 80s. This week we caught up with Jim to learn more about his work and experience.
How did you first get into photography? And how did you make your way into becoming a photojournalist?
My father gave me a plastic box camera at the age of 6 and I made images throughout high school. After college, I enrolled in The Maine Photographic Workshop's Resident program for photojournalism. When I returned home I began freelancing for The News Journal Papers and later The Inquirer, AP, Bloomberg...
When speaking about your photography, do you describe yourself as an artist, photographer, or photojournalist?
I was taught early on that I was a "Shooter." My editor would say our work belonged in the paper one day and the cat's pan the next. Today, I like to think I've grown in my craft and have moved past that editor's small vision. I think that I'm an artist working in the field of photography and often in the genre of photojournalism.
In what years did you work for the Philadelphia Inquirer or Daily News?
Throughout the 90s.
Do you have a favorite story of an encounter with a subject either on an assignment or a personal project?
In the early '90s I began photographing Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds. I've been documenting the Hunt ever since. That work lead to my book "Bound to the Country."
In what ways is photographing on assignment different from personal editorial work? And what are the biggest differences in your approach and considerations between personal editorial projects and assignments?
I can be freer in my art work. There are no restrictions on what and how I present my work. As a photojournalist I'm bound by the pure unmanipulated image.
What are some subjects and themes that you are drawn to photographing while not on assignment? Is there a specific theme that captivates you, one that you keep returning to?
I'm drawn to things as they used to be, I don't think I like modernity. I know in my long term, ongoing project I always make the effort to exclude telephone poles, cars, anything that shows modern times.
Are you active on Instagram? Who do you follow that you really admire?
Caponigro, Wilkes, Watson, Smith, Seliger, Mencher, Carter