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Click images for full 2000-pixel wide view. 

Kirk Jones is, like many, a photographer with a wandering path. Jones has worked with newspapers, assisted at a large commercial studios, and custom printed Pulitzer Prize winning photographer David Hume Kennerly‘s photographs.

Between 1994 and 1999, Jones freelanced in South East Asia, mainly in Vietnam and Cambodia. Upon returning to the U.S., he concentrated on web design and now manipulates Gigapixel imagery as a Senior Computer Scientist at Adobe. Three years ago, he made a return as a practicing photographer.

“I have slowly been easing myself back into the photographic world,” says Jones. His independent work has been published on CNN.com and NYTimes.com, his images featured in a documentary on Jesse Bernstein. He exhibits locally.

Over the past year, Jones has photographed clearcut logging, the urban growth boundaries that exists near Portland, OR, and the migrant work force that caters to the Oregon wine industry.

Black & White images from Jones’ Clearcut series and colour images from his Farm To Table series.

Prison Photography (PP): You’ve photographed a lot of different places, but I picked these because they were recent, close to our city of Portland and about economics, industry, nature, and the region’s culture. Why the interest in clearcut logging?

Kirk Jones (KJ): Witnessing the clearcuts along the Western Oregon highways recently, I experienced the same emotions as it did when I was young and gazing from the car window. Most of us that live here, and those that visit, at some point witness these open landscapes – often behind the veil of trees left standing along the roadside.

Photography is a medium to express what I observe happening close to home. Logging is an multi-faceted issue and something that contributes to our economy here in Oregon.

I have a long history of considering nature and my place within it. I grew up in the Midwest and lived in Northern Minnesota until my junior year of high school. The area is known for lakes and forests and natural beauty, but it is also an area known for timber and for massive strip mining.

Attending college at Evergreen in Olympia, WA – around the time of the spotted owl movement – sparked my affinity with the environment. Evergreen College was, and remains, a magnet for environmentalists and environmental theory.

I recall during trips to the coast that the lumber companies left a thick row of trees along the highway to mask the reality of what was going on behind; I felt like they were trying to hide something.

Click images for full 2000-pixel wide view.

PP: This work is in the legacy of Robert Adams, Eirik Johnson, Christopher Lamarca and many others who look at the Pacific Northwest landscape with wry, open eyes. How should we be relating to our natural resources, in life and in photography?

KJ: Without a connection to your natural surroundings it is difficult to connect to feelings of being alive. We are fortunate to live not only in an area of amazing natural beauty, but in a country that (hopefully) will continue to pursue the protection and respect for nature. It’s a fight.

I’m not advocating that natural resources shouldn’t be consumed around us, but I believe there are right ways to do this and wrong ways. I don’t think strip mining and clear cutting are responsible short or long term.

If photography can help illustrate, change or illuminate crisis, then I have faith that imagery can be a catalyst for crisis management.

PP: How do you characterize the Portland photography scene?

KJ: It has been quite a while since I was more entrenched in the photo scene. During the early 1990’s I worked at a large commercial studio in Portland as well as at The Film Lab located on the NW Park (gone now).

At that time there was a lot going on and you could feel Portland growing. I traveled and worked abroad before returning to the region a few years ago so I am just now reconnecting with photography in Portland.

I’ve gone to strobist shoots, stay active on a few mailing lists for local photographers, and test equipment for the teams at Gigapan. I look at local work when I can. The Portland photography scene appears to be healthy and there are a ton of cool things happening. I’ve been working on individual projects over the last few years and look forward to connecting with others.

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