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Jack Siegel

We check in with the New York-based photographer who discussses his constant desire to create timeless and evocative imagery

Currently living in New York, photographer Jack Siegel, creates timeless pictures touching on nostalgic emotions. His latest expo, in collaboration with Lucien Marc Smith, was a fine example of this, expanding beyond the memory by using his imagery to evoke nostalgia through heavy symbolism. To me the most alluring aspect about Siegel's work is the importance he places on preserving personal moments. When observing his work you can almost experience his transitions to such the effect that you believe your life is being portrayed. Perhaps this is just Imagined Nostalgia... Whatever it is, there is certainly a connection.

Dazed Digital: ‘Peer Pressure’, your first body of work, documents your life between 2006 – 2009 in LA and New York. How did this time period affect you and the development of your work?
Jack Siegel:
It was an exciting time in my life. In 2006 I had just moved to Los Angeles. I met a lot of people right away and started taking pictures. Everything was new, I was full of  so much emotion and energy that only existed right then, and I'm realizing it can never be repeated. This is the backbone of where my interests lie, as I abstract these ideas currently I want the viewer to reference Peer Pressure as the foundation of what I'm trying to say.

DD: You focus quite heavily on those around you, capturing the momentary aspect and emotion brilliantly. Did you ever find it difficult to continuously do this?
Jack Siegel: I have a haphazard approach to photography. It's all about being in the moment. For the longest time I would keep my camera in my pocket and only take it out quickly to shoot then put it back just as fast. It was my way of escaping the role of the photographer, which I've always seen as an outsider, I never wanted that. It's important that the relationship I have with my subject is apparent in the work. I look at all photography this way. When a photograph is successful I get a visceral feeling of intimacy.

DD: How instrumental was ‘Skullset’ behind your rising popularity?
Jack Siegel:
Skullset was a learning experience. The internet is an appealing shortcut; I would have skipped it altogether. Only now having distance from it I can see what I was getting at. In college my professor told me to be careful that I don't lose the aura of my pictures by the mode in which they were being shown. What he meant was the story-like subsequently blog-like format distracts from the interpretive meaning of each picture. When they stand alone detached from their reality is when they are successful. Eventually it came down to losing an audience by taking a more serious approach to my photography.

DD: Your latest expo ‘Imagined Nostalgia’ shown earlier this year at the Cooper Gallery NYC was a collaborative piece with friend Lucien Marc Smith. Can you explain the concept behind this show?
Jack Siegel: It was all about the idea of a time we never experienced in the way that our imagination tricks us into thinking we have. Memories are real and delusional. We started there and created an environment of heavy symbolism. 

DD: Although your style had changed, would you agree there are relating notions of nostalgia between your collected works?
Jack Siegel: My style hasn't changed just the subject matter. In the gallery is a tryptic titled Summer Time Blues and Gold which aesthetically compliments the other work. I'm less concerned with creating nostalgic imagery instead I want the pictures to appear timeless.

DD: What do you plan on doing - for the rest of the summer and next with your photography?
Jack Siegel:
I'll be out in Long Island this weekend with my girlfriend and then Napa and Los Angeles. I'm now incorporating digital in my work, last week I purchased the Canon 5d Mark ii. I'm excited to see what happens.