I don’t know Jon Stars, but I like him. I met him through a mutual friend. He took some fashions photos of a friend, who was one of my first models when I started taking pictures. Jon is a bmx kid just trying to make it in the world. Before this interview, I knew as much about him as you do, & after the interview, I know he is sincere, thoughtful, passionate, & seems like he’d be a ton of fun to go on a trip with, & in my book, that’s all that matters.
Empty Stretch: Age/ Location/ Favorite things in life?
Jon Stars: I’m a 23 year old photographer from Bridgeton, NJ, just off the Delaware bay. Travel, music, seafood, friends, my girlfriend, and my dog Brutus make up my favorite things.
ES: How did you get in to photography? Any schooling or formal training?
JS: I fell into photography after I broke my hand riding bmx when I was 17. I never owned a camera, or ever really thought about photography until that point, but all of a sudden photographing bmx and local bands was all I cared about. The technical side is what I really connected with, and I became addicted to learning everything I could. At the time, I thought I could do that and basically have the coolest life ever. Eventually reality hit and I enrolled to Hallmark Institute of Photography in 08-09.
JS: I started thinking about fashion photography while at Hallmark. You can basically shoot whatever you want with fashion, which was really cool to me. You can have polished studio work right next to gritty on-location looks. It’s been a way for me to experiment with a wide range of styles, and figure out what I like shooting. I also enjoy the editorial nature of fashion photography. I like the challenge of creating a story through a photo set.
ES: I think it is also interesting, you have a large bmx portfolio as well, which may seem drastically different from the rest of your work, but for me it fits really well. How did you get into photographing bmx?
JS: BMX was my creative outlet growing up; it’s always been my escape from reality. I guess with that, you start filming/taking photos of you riding to show your friends, and anybody else who will look. That’s basically how I got into photography. It just kind of happened, and snowballed into me being a photographer.
My bmx portfolio is something that people either love or hate. A lot of people are confused when they go through my musician and fashion portfolios, then drop off into a full on action sports book. Other people can look at the bmx work and see how it’s influenced everything else.
ES: What venue do you best like your work to be seen in? Magazine, gallery, internet, etc.
JS: I think of the internet as junk food, haha. Your work instantly gets chewed up and spit out online. It’s so easy to be forgotten and lost in a sea of 1′s and 0′s. Having my work printed in magazines has always been my end goal. It just seems to be the most tangible way for the rest of the world to accept photography. My portfolio is commercial in nature, so I don’t feel like I relate to art galleries. I still have trouble calling myself an artist.
ES: Your work is nice because you have such a wide range, studio portraits, location portraits, action, as well as spur of the moment. Where is your work heading, any projects on the horizon?
JS: I have a really hard time settling on a specific style, so I just shoot what feels right on that day. Some of the images on my site are over 3 years old, and aren’t relevant. I need to change that, haha. Overall I’m drifting to a less refined look. I’ve always been very technical and precise, so now I’m trying to throw a wrench in everything and create a body of work that I can emotionally connect with.
ES: What would your last meal be?
JS: I don’t eat meat, but a Checkers double chili cheeseburger with cheese fries, haha