A longtime friend of SORT, photographer, and frequent collaborator of Studio Faculty, Jeremy Jude Lee, debuted his first photo publication earlier this Fall. Montage is the culmination of Jeremy's personal and professional body of work so far, and we couldn't be more proud to have hosted the launch event. The event was appropriately titled "Book Launch & Friends", and upon opening the day was instantly filled with a plethora of people ready to support the artist.
Our main wall was decorated with Jeremy's framed photos, and the countertops lined with Jeremy’s signature green books—all embellished with a gold-foil title. In the back you'd find SORT friends Edison and Shirley from Cafe 22 slinging espresso shots for those in need of a caffeine fix. Plus we had some delicious Okinawan pastries, courtesy of Haisai! Sweets and Treats. It was an all-hands-on-deck day, with so much help from family and friends. We couldn't have asked for a better team to celebrate with.
In a candid interview conducted by his very talented friend, Donnel Garcia, Jeremy speaks about the creative process behind Montage:
“I was going through all of my photos trying to figure out something creative to do since I couldn't go out with my camera [during the pandemic]. And then I realized I have all of these photos that I had taken over the past 5 or 6 years. I slowly started culling through these photos and pairing them up. I figured all it takes is taking the time to look through what I've made and find out what it is that I've been trying to say or capture and just take myself a little more seriously as a photographer.
I was looking for this thing in my photography that I never thought I had. I then realized I actually did have something after all this time. My photos had this common thread in feeling, colour and composition, that I just never recognized in my work before.”
A part of what makes Montage unique is Jeremy’s use for colour. Donnel was curious if this aspect is usually intentional during his process, or if this is what he is naturally drawn to in his work. In response, Jeremy says:
“I'm very much drawn to strong colours. Whenever I'm out looking for things, I'll see the way the sun hits a particular part of what I'm looking at—finding scenes that already look like a composition. I feel drawn to capturing things as they are.
I didn't realize I had been drawn to certain colours and particular ways of framing things. At the time when I was looking at the photos within the context of trying to make the book and pairing up photos, I realized, "Oh, wow”. I actually shoot a lot of this tone of blue, a lot of this tone of red and like certain things where it's just more about the composition.”
Behind the book design is Jeremy’s friend and Co-founder of Street Dreams Magazine, Michael Cobarrubia. Jeremy goes on to describe working with him and the idea behind the book layout:
“Mike started laying out some of the pairings that I had suggested to him, and he came back to me saying he just laid it out as if we were walking through a day out in life.
The first part is as if you're walking through the park and there's all these people that you see and it's [among] trees and green. Later in the day, you walk by the ocean and you see all these tones of blue and the sky. Then it goes into night time where it's more reds and oranges. So he organised it based on the way that I had documented things by colour and tone from day to night. It's non-chronological, but has a flow.”
Titling the project Montage, Donnel was curious to know more about the story behind the book title. In response, Jeremy mentioned how he wanted to pay homage to his love of skateboarding and the influence it had on his career as a photographer:
“I grew up skateboarding, and the first time I picked up a camera was to film my friends skateboarding. There’s a lot of skateboarding videos out there that include a "friend's montage". These are people who aren't on the actual skate team for whatever company they are riding for, but are friends who compile their footage in a montage of them hanging out, causing trouble, and skating. It would capture this feeling that would make you want to be there, or be part of their crew.
I was trying to do the same thing with my friends, and in hindsight it influenced everything I do in photography. I don't always go out with a specific direction or idea of what I want to capture, sometimes it's just going out and grabbing what attracts you.
You don't know exactly how it's all going to come together but once you've gone out, captured, and gathered all this material, you sit down afterwards and piece it together — creating a cohesive look and almost making it feel like it was all meant to be this way. That's why I called it Montage.”
This interview was condensed and lightly edited for clarity. To see more information on JJL Montage, you can find it on his website.
You can purchase his book, Montage, here at sortdays.com.