Edward Weston believed, "Through a photographic eye, you will be able to look out on a new-light world, a world for the most part that is uncharted and unexplored, a world waiting to be discovered and revealed in a new way." A statement might describe photographer Jerry Sieve's quest to bring the other side of the lens into meaning and purpose for the viewer. Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jerry began making pilgrimages to Arizona in the 1960s. He was captivated by the surreal landscapes of the desert Southwest, all sculpted by relentless winds, rushing water, and intense baking sun over centuries. This continuous dance of shadow and light captivated Jerry's visual curiosity and would play a big part in his career as a professional photographer.
Finally, convinced the Ohio winters were not getting any warmer, Jerry moved to the Arizona in 1974. In 1976, he enrolled at Glendale Community College to study photography under well-known and highly acclaimed photographer Willis "Pete" Peterson, a relationship that has survived a long-standing friendship. Pete guided Jerry through the land of manually set cameras, canisters of film, f-stops, and a wide variety of lenses which became Jerry's life passion. By December 1977, Jerry was a published photographer in that month's Arizona Highways magazine. Soon after, armed with an Associate's degree in Art and foundational knowledge of photography, Jerry left school to work as a professional landscape photographer. Jerry has had over 3000 images published, 600 of them in Arizona Highways alone, with 11 covers to his credit.
Jerry's evolution from a photography student to an award-winning professional photographer came with a relentless drive to create meaningful and inspiring images. He considers Edward Weston and Ansel Adams as photographers that had the most impact on his creativity and process of seeing his subjects. Philosophically Jerry thinks aesthetic vision evolves. Looking back at his work, over a 40+ year career, he can identify the period when the style and vision made a particular image. During his early career, he followed the style of the "Group f/64" photographers. People are rarely seen in the landscapes, and the land took on an almost environmental-utopian look. The goal was to show the immense beauty of the natural world. Jerry was highly successful in mastering the technique through his images, many of which we have enjoyed in the Arizona Highways.
Today, Jerry is looking in a new direction. Part of what has freed him to be even more creative is his decision to become a photography teacher with Paradise Valley Community College. For the last 12 years, teaching photography has provided the time and space for him to consider other aspects of making images, moving away from his signature landscapes into images including people, objects, and symbolic statements directly linked to formalism. Jerry has also transitioned from color images of his past work into monochromatic images. Jerry explains, "The result of my work is producing an image that 'says' something to the viewer. I favor old school large format for the rich depth and natural clarity I can achieve with an image." He feels it is easier to be expressive in black and white because the image becomes about the negative/positive space and the creation of shapes using the contract of shadow and light. Some would say this process, as used today, has brought us full circle within the concept of less is more.
"The result of my work is producing an image that 'says' something to the viewer. I favor old school large format for the rich depth and natural clarity I can achieve with an image."
Recently, Jerry published two portfolios featuring various breathtaking images from his extensive career. Portfolio 1: Light is a Language contains 66 pages, including ten monochromatic and ten color images, and Portfolio 2: Line, Shape, Form incorporates 15 color images. All images are printed on Kodak Professional Endura paper, and each portfolio includes an introduction and explanations of technical camera data. The portfolios feature blue linen hardbound covers, gold leaf lettering, and a chestnut presentation box. Jerry Sieve’s keen eye and superb masterful skills enable him to document and share the classic landscapes of the American West.