We spoke with a 17 year old photographer Jacob Wilkes about his concepts and processes to gain an insight to his raw and relatable style.
Here is what we got + His Archive.
What amped you to start taking photos?
In 2009, when I was 9 or 10 years old, I took my first photograph. I shot with my Mom's Nikon Coolpix point-and-shoot camera, while on a family vacation on the big island of Hawaii. I recall fixating on the sillouettes of the palm trees against the sunset. The light at the time was fascinating to me and I just had the urge to capture it. I hurried back to the hotel room to get the camera before nightfall. In the end, I was really stoked about the photos I had taken, in fact, I still have the files on my desktop to this day. I think this excitement about the things I see and places I visit is really what started my passion for taking pictures.
Why film photography?
I first experimented with film photography this past year after I received a Holga 150 as a holiday gift. I was accustom to the instant gratification of digital, but the more I shot, the more fell in love with the excitement involved in developing a roll of film. For me, it's this excitement that keeps me shooting film, at least for now. I also believe that shooting film has changed my approach to photography, which has been an important step in my development as an artist. When shooting digital, it is easy to fixate on finding the proper settings or the right angle, as you can instantly view your results on the screen. With film, I am limited to 36 frames to adequetley capture a subject or scene. I feel that it's because of this limitation that taking photos becomes more about thoughtful observation and less about the final product. When I see my rolls developed, I see my own feelings and perspectives conveyed by the images, which is a really satisfying feeling.
How do you find inspiration?
I think a lot of my work is heavily influenced and inspired by music. I was fortunate enough to have my Dad expose me to some of his favorite bands (Steely Dan, Seal, and John Mayer to name a few) when I was 4 or 5, and my passion for it really took off from there. I love to think that music is a soundtrack for life, which is why I have hundreds of songs and genres to choose from depending on how I feel. If you think about it that way, it's easy to see how art and music are intertwined, as they both express life in similar ways. When I listen to an album or a song, my head is filled with visuals that I like to emulate in my work. Sometimes inspiration flows, and other times I find myself in a creative lull where I feel like it's just not quite coming together. I think ultimately it it best to simply create, and the inspirations will show themsleves in the finished product.
Where do you get your photos developed?
I'm fortunate enough to have a great photo lab about 2 miles away from my home in Venice, CA. It's called Rose Photo and it's unfortunately one of the few places in LA that still develops film. There's a very charming Korean couple who do all of the developing and own the place. I just always feel good taking my film there. I know they do a great job, and I'm indirectly helping to maintain the presence of film photography in Los Angeles. If I have some extra time, I love to develop myself in the dark room at Santa Monica High School, where I attend school. I think its interesting to have that hands-on interaction with your photos.
For me, my favorite camera is my Leica M6, which is also kind of my 'daily driver'. I was fortunate enough to aquire it this year and I really have fallen in love with it's simplicity. The camera breaks photography down to its core elements; aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. I like to keep it simple and really focus on the photos, so it's a great camera for my personal tastes.
Instagram yes or no?
Personally, I use instagram primarily as a platform to share my art and photography, but also to stay connected with family and friends. I love being able to keep up with some of my favorite artists and athletes, as well as my friends and family all in a single application. On the other hand, I think that social media can often blurr the lines between fantasy and reality. In a world full of pictures, it is quite easy to portray fantasy as reality, leaviing users questioning there own lives and realities. I think the most important thing in the age of social media is to have confidence in your reality and what you do with your 24 hours, rather than to have confidence in your online image. So yes, if you use it in a healthy manner.
Who is your favourite photographer?
My favorite photographer, quite naturally, is my Uncle, Stephen Wilkes. I remember being a young boy at his exhibitions in Los Angeles, and I've always admired his ability to tell stories in his photographs. My favorite body of work he has done is his series titled, "Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom" which provides a look inside the eerie structures of Ellis Island, where hundreds of thousands of people came when they immigrated to the US. I think my passion for photography was discovered by my own curiosities as a child, but I have always been proud and inspired to see my Uncle succeed in a field that is becoming more and more exclusive.
I find that Sifimag shares a lot of the same interests as me and my work. The mix between lifestyle, surfing, and music is what I think alligns my work with the magazine, and I am stoked to be a part of it.