4 Eyes Room: Interview With Jane Long – Bringing Old Photos to Life & Creating Fantasy Worlds

Some time ago I discovered Jane’s work and I was blown away! I knew I had to talk to her and share with you her thoughts, so I sent her a message asking if she would mind if I would send her a few questions for an interview on my blog. She was very graceful and answers back in the same day! I had this interview ready for some time, but I was waiting the perfect moment to share it with you guys. Today is the day!

Self PreservationImage: Self Preservation – In a pickle

The funny thing is that I found Jane, following the Facebook page dedicated to a romanian photographers work: Costică Acsinte, who died in 1984 (at the age of 86) and left a tremendous legacy of over 5000 photos, that are now are being restored and digitised by Cezar Popescu with Ialomița County Museum in Romania. Jane was featured on that page, with some of her amazing conceptual work.

Dancing With CosticaImage: Dancing with Costica – All hands on deck

I have the great pleasure to invite you to read this interview that honored me.

Asking Jane a few words about herself, she said: I have over 20 years’ experience as a graphic designer, with 17 years running my own studio and have been working with Photoshop since 1994. I developed an interest in photography as an extension of my personal photomanipulation work, starting with creating my own stock images and progressing to a love of photography in general. Digital art remains a passion and forms an integral part of my photography work. My work is informed and enhanced by my grounding in design principles and my experience with Photoshop allows me to create images that have a sense of reality whilst still embracing fantasy.

What got you into photography? What is your favourite photo that you’ve ever taken/created?
I started working with Photoshop almost 20 years ago, mainly using other people’s stock images. Eventually I wanted more control over the stock I used; objects or scenes I couldn’t source and control of the copyright of images. Then friends started asking me to shoot for them and I started to get a better handle on using the camera, lighting and posing. Two years ago I bought my first DSLR and decided to start shifting the focus of my business from graphic design to photography.

“Cured” is definitely a big favourite as I feel it’s my most original piece but I’d have to put “Rise” up there as well because it took me three shoots and a LOT of compositing to get it right.

Cured & Rise

Do you have any formal training in photography or are you self-taught? If you are self-taught, what methods of learning did you find the most productive and/or useful to you?
I’m completely self-taught, both in photography and post production. I learned a lot about compositing from tutorials on Deviantart a few years ago but most of my photography knowledge comes from sites like Phlearn, SLR Lounge and Creative Live.

What inspires you?
Sometimes I’m inspired by a scene or a prop but lately I’ve been trying to examine my own thoughts and feelings for inspiration. Other artists, both photographers and painters, music, film and books are also sources of inspiration.

What do you hope to communicate with the work that you create?
That depends on the image/series. In Self-Preservation I had both a public and a personal message. On the surface it was about society’s obsession with youth and looks but on a personal level it was more about how I was feeling. Trying to pick up the pieces after a really rough time.

With the Dancing with Costică series there was no initial theme as the series was essentially unplanned. Now it’s more about suspending the possible and just tipping things over into the impossible. Creating a story for the characters.

I like there to be ambiguity in my images. Things that are almost real or not quite right. That’s one thing that I do like to have across all my images. Nothing in life is black and white.

What’s on your gear list? (cameras, lenses, editing software)
How important is Photoshop/Post-Processing to your works?

I’m pretty low tech in terms of gear at the moment. I’m shooting with a Nikon D5100, 18-55 mm and 55-300 mm kit lenses and a 50 mm 1.8G. I’m always running the latest (or close to) editions of Lightroom and Photoshop as well as Nik’s Dfine and Sharpen series and Imagenomic’s Portraiture.

I’m rarely satisfied with an image straight out of camera. Post production is an essential part of the process for me. When I first bought the camera I did a 365 project, which didn’t allow much time for post-production. It was great for getting to know the camera but by the end of the year I was getting really frustrated with only doing limited post-production work. I feel that’s a definitive part of what I do.

What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not creating artistic images?
I read quite a bit but even going for a drive on the weekend usually has a hidden (photography) agenda. Country drives are a great way to find stock images of landscapes, skies and animals and if you’re really lucky you stumble across an antique store or something really unique.

I love all your conceptual work, “Self-Preservation” images are breathtaking and I am absolutely fascinated of the “Dancing with Costică” images. How did you get to know about Costică Acsinte Archive? What motivated you to start using those photos? What can you tell me about your amazing photo manipulations? Which one is your favorite?
The Dancing with Costică series initially came about when I decided to brush up on my retouching skills. After finding the Costică Acsinte Archive on Flickr I became fascinated with the images and their subjects. I wanted to bring them to life. But more than that I wanted to give them a story.

Not much is known about most of the people in Mr Ascinte’s work but in my mind they became characters in tales of my own invention… star crossed lovers, a girl waiting for her lover to come home, boys sharing a fantasy, innocent children with a little hint of something dark.

I think my favourite would have to be “Innocence” as it has the right mix of light and dark. Plus it has a few of my favourite things in it, like the view from my favourite beach and our (short-lived) goldfish Doris.

InnocenceImage: Dancing with Costica – Innocence

What are your plans for the future? Are you planning to offer more tutorials or other kind of services?
At the moment I’m trying to put together a comprehensive tutorial to try to raise funds for an exhibition. I’m also developing ideas for a new series as well as continuing the Dancing with Costică series. The new series will be another introspective one, more like the Self-Preservation series but I’m still working out the broad concepts. I also have a project working with drag queens which has been on hold for a couple of years which I’m hoping to get back on track.

I do have a team of regular helpers, many of us forming a group we loosely call “The Project” (last week it was called “The Brains Trust”!). We help out on each other’s shoots and brainstorm ideas. We also drink cocktails and champagne on occasion!

Your fan base is getting bigger and bigger. How is this affecting you? Do you have a social media strategy?
I’m a little more selective about what I post but I don’t have a definitive strategy. I suspect the majority of my followers are other photographers so I’m trying to develop products to suit that market. I’m hoping that when the time comes it will help me get a foot in the door at a gallery. Until then I’ll just keep trying to build the base and keep everyone happy!

 

Thank you, thank you, Jane Long! It was trully a pleasure to have you here, in the 4 Eyes Room! :)
If you want to know more about Jane and her work, you can find her on Facebook and on her site (keep your eyes open, she has great special offers from time to time).

Alexandra Vezure

Mother, wife, friend and confidant. Graphic designer delivering high quality, creative services for over 10 years. Master in Adobe Photoshop (Brainbench License 8036895). Member of Social Psychology Network. Passionate about people and people's images. Read more on the about page and let's connect on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

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