Profiles and Interviews With Interesting New Yorkers

Jay Gunning: Photographer Offers a View into the World in a New Way

By Nick Christophers

When it comes to any artistic talent the journey to realizing one’s potential takes time. This was the case for Jay Gunning who came full circle before realizing it. For Jay, it was in his gene pool but at first he never took it seriously. His father, an amateur photographer, even had a darkroom in their home. When he turned ten years old he received his first professional camera, a 35 mm Pentax SLR, and it became an extension of himself for twelve years. Jay completed his degrees in fine arts and marketing using that same camera.

Jay_Gunning (2 of 3)Jay is a traditionalist who prefers to shoot on film (even in the current market where digital is the dominant source for producing photos.)  For him, film offers a timelessness that cannot be duplicated by digital. A similar argument is true in the music industry when it comes to comparing digital with the quality of a vinyl record.

“I love the sound of the ‘click’ when the shutter drops, I love the thrill of the chase and most of all- the creative process. I find solace in the ritual each photo adopts, from loading the film to late nights in the darkroom. Each step of the process has its habitual rewards that only fuels it further.”

For a time, Jay found himself working commercial jobs in the advertising industry.  It was an opportunity to be involved with other creative minds and get a better understanding of modern elements to improve his own work. The exposure to working with big brands was beneficial but he still likes to keep his solo work separate from his commercial projects.

“My solo projects are very raw and organic in nature and this comes from having spent time at either end of the creative spectrum tailoring stories for very different audiences.”

Jay has always been drawn to working in underdeveloped countries and felt compelled to tell a story through his images. In 2000, he went on his international development trip. Jay would ask himself – how am I going to have the best possible impact on the world?  He would come up with different answers to this question but always went back to wanting to do more for the greater good though his photography.

Jay has shown his work in a number of exhibitions.  One of his first shows, titled “Through a Foreign Lens” was a collection of social documentary photos of his travels through South East Asia and South America. It was a piece dedicated to bringing a community together to celebrate local culture.

“Projects like these are what keeps me moving forward, I love to be able to bring these traits when shooting commercially, if I approach a commercial project in the same vein I believe it can bring out a genuine honesty in the task at hand.”

Jay is a native of Australia where a photographer has more than their share of scenic views to choose from. Yet he wanted to explore and learn from other places around the world. He would end up where he least expected, New York City. But after settling into the Big Apple he has begun to appreciate its uniqueness and quality.

His current project, Expectation Mourning, is showing at LMAK Gallery in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  It goes on display to the public March 4th and runs through March 11th.

Jay delves into the societal expectations through a modern pop cultural journey. The project is emotional and riveting as it explores the life of a couple behind closed doors. It captures the couple from daybreak to dinner time and how they encounter the unexpected. Included with the piece is an original spoken word performance that builds into an interactive experience. In addition, each photograph will include a YouTube clip with a tailored playlist and a poem to increase the viewers’ experience. It is a performance that is a must see for anyone drawn to the beauty of storytelling through photography.

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