Jeff Jacobson (photographer)

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Jeff Jacobson is an American photographer born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1946 to a family of Jewish refugees. He began his career as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union before devoting himself to photography after studying under Charles Harbutt. A member of Magnum Photos from 1978 to 1981, he subsequently was a partner of Archive Pictures and later affiliated himself with Redux Pictures.

Photography career[edit]

His first collection of color photographs, My Fellow Americans ...,[1] was published in 1991, and covered the years 1978-1989, documenting American society during the era of Ronald Reagan. During this period, his photographs were candids, and marked by visual jokes. He sabotaged the surface level of the subject matter in the frame by using strobe and fill-flash that hyperbolized the glitz of the composition, and gave the composition a disorienting blurriness. The title references Swiss photographer Robert Frank's work The Americans, with the cover image of Jacobson's father holding Jeff's son reminiscent of Frank's shot of a jet-black nanny cradling an ivory-white infant. Other stated and implicit influences include André Kertész, Charles Harbutt, Mark Rothko, Danny Lyons, Weegee, postmodernist Ralph Steadman, the Depression-era photojournalist Dorothea Lange, and Odilon Redon.

In 2006, Jacobson published Melting Point.[2] These photographs present a more ethereal view of the world in transition, from 1990-2002. While most of these images were taken during his magazine assignments, they present a more lyrical, internal reaction to the events of the deaths of his parents, returning to live on the East coast, and the startling moment the Twin Towers burning behind a bronze statue depicting the horror of the Katyn Forest massacre.

In 2013, the book "The Last Roll" is released by Daylight Books.[3] "The Last Roll" embodies the maturation of Jacobson's work, further abstracting his vision of the world, while his medium of Kodachrome film ceases production, shortly after he is diagnosed and treated for cancer. As he recovers his energy, his photographs are imbued with a new understanding of mortality. After viewing the world first from the windows of his home, he re-enters it again with fresh eyes, focussed now the images that move him and give him strength.

He has also been published in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and other magazines, and numerous museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art hold collections of his prints.

Personal style[edit]

About his visual style, he has written:


  1. ^ Jeff Jacobson, My Fellow Americans, Santa Fe: University of New Mexico Press, 1991.
  2. ^ Jeff Jacobson, Melting Point, Nazraeli Press, 2006.
  3. ^ Jeff Jacobson, "The Last Roll," Daylight Books, 2013.
  4. ^ Jeff Jacobson, My Fellow Americans, Santa Fe: University of New Mexico Press, 1991.
  5. ^ Jeff Jacobson, My Fellow Americans, Santa Fe: University of New Mexico Press, 1991.

External links[edit]