About The Artist
In his own words. Updated 2015.
Not a typical 'guy with camera' photographer's portrait, I know. What can I say -- I'm not a big fan of 'typical' as those who know me can attest.
Photography was a passion of mine since high school and college; in the 1990's I completed formal training and began developing personal styles and techniques. Feedback from clients and others was positive, so I continued professional development and began accepting occasional paid assignments.
I established Ardent Images LLC in 2006 to provide a commercial base for my work, but frankly the timing was not great. The 2008+ economic downturn coincided with the digital revolution's corrosive effect on photography as a profession. Dreams of "quitting my day job" faded. As a company of one, with a family and separate full time job, it was not easy to compete in the mainstream world of weddings, traditional portraits, etc. And, as you probably know, artists do not always make the best businesspeople! Still I persevered, because my work was well-received and the act of producing it quenched my thirst for the creative process. During this time span I also had the creative joy of writing my first full length novel, Telaria River. Creating hundreds of photographs to illustrate the book required all of Ardent Images' resources, and then some.
In mid-2013, I stopped caring about profitability. A healthy person under 50, I was struck with an aggressive blood cancer like lightning from the blue sky. Considering how quickly it was destroying my body, I'm incredibly blessed to have survived and to now be in remission. Besides the fear of leaving family and friends, it was devastating to think I may never again experience the joys of the creative process and producing things other people enjoy. I'm like a poster boy for 'second chances'.
I'm still working out what all that means. I do know that for me, making space in my life for creative expression is part of the answer. My "Lines of Lymphoma" (LoL) project fusing phrases, body paint, and photography to tell a story of my cancer was one outcome and gave me the experience of being the model rather than the photographer. A trip to France for a photography workshop--an adventure I called YOLO14--was another. My paying job and other ventures keep me busy, but I will continue squeezing in creative projects whenever I can. Because when you are creating, you are alive.
What could this history mean to prospective clients and collaborators? I suppose I'm more unbound than ever. If a project idea is creative, purposeful, legal, and expressive, I'm in if I can do it. Life is too short regret projects that only failed because you did not try. I'm not yet sure how this brush with death will affect my stylistic development. If nothing else it reinforces my belief in the power of art to honor our human dynamism, imagination, connections, and individuality -- and share the wonder of this planet we are privileged to occupy so briefly.
- Jeff Knowles