As photography enthusiasts, photographers, or people who simply enjoy photography we all have our favorite photographers, inspiration sources, and other influencers. These people tend to be well-known photographers, living or passed away, authors, thinkers, and the like. I would like to acknowledge such a person you may or may not know. Brooks Jensen has been a steady champion of “photography”, not a particular genre of it but the general art of photography, for decades. He has influenced many photographers, including this writer.
Publishing the LensWork magazine, which has just passed the 100 issue mark, to extremely high production standards is one of his most visible accomplishments, and deservedly so. (Full disclosure: I had my photographs published in LensWork #97 Extended) The quality of the printing, the attention to detail, selection of works to publish, and augmenting the photographs with thoughtful editorials have been the mark of LensWork, many more to come I’m sure.
Brooks also introduced the “folio” concept of presenting a carefully selected collection of photographs, meticulously printed, and presented in a simple but quality augmenting cover. You may want to visit his personal site and download PDF copies to see what I mean, the printed version is even stronger. His early folios were all silver-gelatin prints, but his pigment on archival prints have the same high-quality today. I must admit I imitated his idea when I put together my own folios and appreciate both the hard work that goes into it and the satisfaction one derives from the intimate viewing they provide. I have acquired a couple of his folios and several single prints and enjoy his work very much.
He recently started new ways of sharing his, and other photographers’ work recently. Capitalizing on his years of experience and knowledge coming from publishing LensWork, he introduced LensWork Monograph series. When the first one, Made of Steel, came out a while ago I wrote a comment on his announcement and said: “Now, I am officially jealous”. I received my copy which did not disappoint, it was of the same high-caliber printing (duotone stochastic printing if you are curious) and equally satisfying photography, this time his own. Recently Brooks introduced another way of gathering a collection of photographs for presentation, he calls them chapbooks. They are a cross between a folio and a hand-made book, a medium that brings photography and bookbinding arts together.
Brooks’ knowledge of photography as an art form, its practitioners, the language of photography seems to extend as much as the creative energy he brings to publishing photographic art. His columns as the editor of LensWork, his books on photography, hundreds of podcasts, and more recently his blog posts are well seated on this body of knowledge, not loose opinions. His new online offering, LensWorkOnline.com, which is a subscription-based product, brings much of his writings, audio and video commentaries on a variety of subjects. I have read his books with great enjoyment and recommend them to anyone interested in photography. Mind you, his intention is far from offering you techniques of how to produce a set of popular “looks”. Instead, he challenges the reader to dip into the well of photographic knowledge and find his or her own voice. I have not been to one of his workshops, seminars, or other presentations. But I greatly enjoyed the 45-minute conversation we had just before my Infrared Earthscapes collection was published in LensWork #97 Extended. If I have a chance, I would like to travel to see him just to have a cup of coffee and chat, although the distance is one continent apart. Who knows, maybe one of these days …
Your #100 May-June issue was a landmark for LensWork and a tribute to your dedication to the field of photography. My sincere, albeit belated, congratulations to you and your team Brooks, for bringing an unwavering vision and quality to the fans of photography.