Voices

The Verve: Swanson tries to provoke thoughtful introspection with photos

Photographer Jesse Swanson stands with some of his work at Ink to Media in Spokane Valley on June 9. He works in the digital printing business and shares some of his work, mostly outdoors and backcountry scenes. (Jesse Tinsley)
Photographer Jesse Swanson stands with some of his work at Ink to Media in Spokane Valley on June 9. He works in the digital printing business and shares some of his work, mostly outdoors and backcountry scenes. (Jesse Tinsley)

Jesse Swanson is a photographer and print expert who enjoys art, culture and nature.

He can talk for hours about poetry, books, films, lectures, art and backpacking excursions that have made an impression on him in one way or another. He hopes to make an impression on others through his own work.

“If I had a mission statement it would be that I want to give people hopeful, thoughtful introspection on life and the environment. As conscientious human beings I want to help us understand our relationship to each other and our environment,” he said. “We have the tools and resources to make the entire world a utopia, and maybe photography can help inch us forward in that direction.”

Swanson, 25, grew up in Spokane Valley and attended University High School where photography piqued his interest. He went on to study the craft at Spokane Falls Community College. After graduating in 2009, he walked into Ink to Media, a print shop and gallery in Spokane Valley and offered his services as an intern in exchange for free prints of his photos and on-the-job education and experience. Now, he is an employee.

An avid backpacker, Swanson has hiked many miles to capture panoramic photographs and scenic landscapes including shots taken of and from Three Fingers Lookout, a rough cabin on top of a steep rock in Snoqualmie National Forest. His work captures beauty rarely seen and often overlooked from off-the-beaten-path to more conceptual, digital compositions that combine multiple photographs to create narrative images.

Swanson loves bringing a sense of peace and awe to others and hopes that his work will bring them closer to the world around them. Conserving beauty is also very important to Swanson; he has worked with Earth Day Spokane and the Lands Council, photographing threatened natural areas. His recent series of old growth forests will be exhibited on the second floor of Saranac Building, 35 W. Main Ave., in August. There will be a rooftop reception Aug. 1 as part of First Friday. Also in August, he will be exhibiting his work at a warehouse in Missoula during the second annual Zootown Fringe Festival.

Recently, he had an exhibit in Odessa, Washington, at the Green Goat’s Gallery opening. He filmed the event and interviewed other artists for a short documentary. “It will be interesting to see if a bunch of artists can have an impact on a half vacant little farming town,” he said.

Whether he’s traveling far or close to home, he is always clutching a camera.

“The power of the photo is its ability to speak to the viewer and say a million things without a word,” he said. “Photos can convey meaning, insight, and introspection. They can comment on issues, highlight problems, or show the true beauty of a far off place you wish you could be.”



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