BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL: JEFF HODSDON
WNW Member and Photographer #5727 Jeff Hodsdon has developed such an excitingly simple yet refreshing style, and we can't get enough of it. His project, "The Moments", is an on-going portrait series that captures his subjects in slow-motion, soft-focus. It's actually a hybrid of still and motion, in part because the first frame works deceptively well as a still image. And when the image comes to life, we're both surprised and hooked. We asked Jeff what it is about the idea of a moment that fascinates him. "I like the idea of ‘breaking the fourth wall’ — portraits that feel like someone is in their own life, yet giving you a split second of attention."
Tell us about your background: Who is Jeff Hodsdon and how did he get here?
I live in New York City by way of Califonia. I got here by motorcycle — took about a month and I journaled it on a tumblr. My focus is on taking images of people. Lately, my time is spent walking the streets of New York in search of people who I feel are in an interesting moment and photographing them. I post to an Instagram account and blog called “The Moments”.
Your ongoing series “The Moments” strikes a great balance between stillness and motion. Can you tell us about the development of the project and how you see it evolving?
I try to create an image that represents about one second of elapsed time. Not much happens in a second — if you look at any slice within a second the moment hasn’t changed really. I want someone to view them at any point in time and still see the same moment.
To capture a moment, do you first spend some time getting to know your subject, or do you aim for a purely raw interaction?
I usually don’t. I like to shoot the idea of someone that I have since that is what made me curious enough to ask for a quick photo. Everyone is different — sometimes I end up saying a couple words, then others you have a conversation with.
What inspires you most about the concept of a moment?
If you document it right with an image, it can bridge what happened and what you understand.
I find people very interesting. They are so visual: what they wear, their environment, their posture, their expression, how they carry themselves, etc. New York City is one big set with millions of subjects. I love not looking for a particular image; I like to have a positive/curious feeling about someone I see and then shoot that feeling. You never know what you’re going to get.
Do any subjects surprise you?
Nothing too surprising yet. I suppose everyone is a surprise because I don’t know anything about them. What mood they’re in, if they want to smile, if they want to be told how to stand or not.
Do you feel more in your element doing still photography or video, or tackling both at the same time?
I don’t really do video where a story is unfolding. Nothing over a second of real time. It matters to me how you compose the feeling you had when you decided to capture the subject. The way I built my camera is to have just one button, nothing else to distract from figuring out how to capture what is in front of me. I like the idea of ‘breaking the fourth wall’ — portraits that feel like someone is in their own life, yet giving you a split second of attention.
How does New York inspire your creativity?
I like the energy here. It makes me want to do more.
What inspirations help inform your work?
Biggest career failure or challenge?
Switching careers and starting over.
Most significant creative influence or inspiration (or creative hero)?
A photo can bridge the gap between what happened and what you understand.
Advice you’d give your high school self?