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A conversation with Jason Hunter. Virginia based photographer and creative community builder.

1. Please introduce yourself, your current creative focus and where you’re based.

I am Jason Hunter, and I am from Chesapeake, VA, a suburb of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. My work is primarily from around my small area here, and I am often behind grocery stores and shops, trying to find mundane scenes that catch my eye. Lately, though, I have been on the hunt for more cars and trucks to photograph due to the winter weather. It's harder for me to make boring scenes look good with the wet and cloudy weather, but more interesting subjects photograph better. Also, over the last six months, I have started shooting more black and white.

2. Can you share the story of how you came to find photography as a passion and what led you to find your creative style?

I've been a hobbyist photographer for around ten years. I started with film, then switched to full-frame, and became a micro four-thirds fanboy. I loved to fit a whole kit in a little bag, but that didn't last long before I switched back to film. Throughout it all, my style has changed a lot, but I've been shooting the same scenes the entire time. It comes in waves for me. I'll shoot around the city in Norfolk, switch to mundane scenes, and then back to trying to find more exciting things. I see it all as practice. Like most of us, it's hard for me to look back at my old work and not cringe; however, I take what I don't like about it and try to make it better. Maybe ten years from now, I'll be a half-decent photographer.

3. Do you prefer to work with digital or film? What combination are you currently using for photography?

I love film and digital cameras. They both offer their strengths and weaknesses. Honestly, I just love cameras or any kind of gadget. That's what got me into photography in the beginning. Right now, I am shooting 90% digital and 10% film. I have sold all my film cameras except my RB67.

4. What led you to switch from film to digital, and do you think you’ll switch back in the future or continue to shoot film now and then?

The main reason I switched to digital is the Fuji X-T4. I had no idea how much I would love that camera. It has that analog feel, and that was the main problem I had with my Nikon D750. Also, the Fuji looks fantastic, and I loved that about all the film cameras I've owned. Someone said once, "Buy the camera you think looks cool, and you'll want to shoot it more." I've found that to be true during my time with photography. I'll go back to film in the future, but right now, I am just having fun with my little Fuji. Down the road, my main goal is to get a Leica M6 and M10/11. That would be an excellent setup for both film and digital.

5. You’ve founded a number of photography communities on social media to date. Could you share your motivation for building these and what do you hope to see in the future?

I started Restore From Backup with good intentions but did it incorrectly. I was too competitive and thought that my way was the only way to create something like that, and I became too obsessive with trying to make everyone happy but myself. Seasoned Film was started because I wanted a fun account that I ran with my friends, but it was too much to deal with, and RFB was my main focus. Then once I started shooting with FujiFilm, I wanted to build another community around that and made Fuji Mag. I've had a problem with all these accounts because it was just too much work. It was hard to keep up with it all between working full time, going through grad school, and my dad's fight and loss with cancer. Now, I mainly run Two Hour Photo. Unlike the other accounts, every style of photography is welcome, and there are no themes. I created a website for it, and now that I am finished with school, I can focus on it as I've always wanted. This will be the last account/community I start, and unlike before, I am doing it by myself and just having fun.

6. With social media algorithms being the dominating influence in so many artists’ creative decisions, what is your perspective on Instagram seemingly pushing photography into the background?

Social media has become hard to navigate recently between the changes Instagram has made and the new NFT community that has popped up on Twitter. If you're not into making videos or selling NFTs, there's no space for you anymore, in my opinion. I'm not sure what will happen in the future, but I am optimistic it will all work out, or someone will make a new platform.

7. As an artist with a consistent presence on social media, how would you say platforms like Instagram, 500px, Flickr have shaped the course of visual creativity over the years?

Instagram has played a role in making everyone feel like they constantly have to post new work or create "content." That's the problem we all have started with social media. There is always pressure to be seen and heard, and we feel like people will forget about us if we don't. I know it took me a while to get over that and tone it back a bit.

8. Are there any other creative mediums that you’re passionate about that you don’t currently share on social media?

My other main hobby is video games, and I am honestly better and know more about them than photography. I listen to podcasts, watch videos, and spend my free time playing games. I've been playing video games since the NES, and I have every console since then. Except for the PS5, I found an Xbox Series X and Switch OLED, but no PS5 yet. I love them all and enjoy all kinds of games; however, my favorites are Bioshock, Dark Souls, Zelda, Forza Horizon, and Mega Man.

9. Do you consider the work you create to be art? Can you explain your answer?

This is a tricky question because yes and no. Most of my work isn't art. I am mainly just having fun and shooting what I think looks interesting. Currently, I am working on a body of work that I consider art. However, that's not my main goal in a lot of ways. Many people feel they have to create some kind of narrative for their photos to be taken seriously. In my opinion, it's not my place to tell people what they should take out of my photography; that's up to them.

10. Do you have any creative projects you’re currently working on?

My main creative project is getting up and running. However, I am working on a book that I hope to release in 2022. The book has changed five or six times since I started putting it together, but I would love to wrap it up since I am done with school and have more time on my hands.

View Jason's recent work on Instagram ->

Join the community at Two Hour Photo ->

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