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Jerry Interval, (October 10, 1923 – December 4, 2006), was an American portrait photographer and educator known for his expert studio and natural lighting techniques and for his Merry Monks series of portraits.
The early years
Jerry Interval was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up in the Brookline neighborhood of the city. When he was 17, he moved to Dunkirk, New York to attend Holy Cross Seminary, an all-male Roman Catholic boarding school that closed in 1968. While there, he studied to be a Passionist priest for a short time and graduated with a degree in psychology before returning to Pittsburgh.
In 1948, at the age of 25, he married Dora, his wife of almost 58 years. The Intervals lived in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania and Bellevue, Pennsylvania, two communities near the city of Pittsburgh, before moving to the suburb of Franklin Park, Pennsylvania, where they lived for almost 43 years, raising seven children along the way.
Influenced by Yousuf Karsh, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jay Stock, Albert Gilbert, Frank Criccio, Don Busath, and Duane Sauro, Interval developed a passionate interest in photography in his twenties, pursued it as a hobby for several years, and turned professional in 1968. In 1972, he earned the degree of master of photography from the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). At the time, he was one of the youngest men ever to receive the master and was the only person with that degree between Pittsburgh and Erie, Pennsylvania. Two years later, he earned PPA's photographic craftsman degree, an award given for professional competence and service to the profession. In 1992, he received an associate from the American Society of Photographers (ASP).
Interval's work mirrors his philosophy that the manipulation of technique based on effective lighting, composition, design elements, storytelling, and viewer psychology is key to producing a photograph that has profound emotional impact. He documented this philosophy in The Psychological Approach to Photographic Design, his associate thesis for the ASP, and in a self-published booklet describing what he called crash-point symmetry, a compositional technique still widely used by professional photographers. Although not on display yet, several examples of Interval's work—including some of his noted Merry Monks portraits—are housed at the Photo Antiquities Museum of Photographic History in Pittsburgh.
While Interval devoted most of his career to portrait and wedding photography, he did some notable commercial work for corporate film and television productions, including The President's Command Performance for Ronald Reagan at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., and a television commercial featuring magician Harry Blackstone, Jr. He completed other field assignments for NBC, Chanel, British Airways, and the American Heart Association, and his work has appeared in Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Sports Illustrated, Reader's Digest, and Better Homes and Gardens.
A member of Professional Photographers of America, American Society of Photographers, Triangle Photographers Association, and Photographic Society of America (PSA), Interval lectured at photography conferences and judged numerous photo competitions throughout North America. For more than 20 years, he was an instructor for the Winona International School of Professional Photography in Winona Lake, Indiana, teaching Winona-accredited courses throughout the United States and at the Winona headquarters itself. He also conducted PPA-accredited master photography workshops at his studio in Franklin Park, Pennsylvania, later labeling that entity the Academy of Photographic Art.
Interval's lectures and classes covered the mechanics and aesthetics of portraiture, indoor and outdoor lighting, high-key lighting, posing, facial analysis, candid photography, oil and pastel print enhancement, evaluation of competition prints, principles of studio management, marketing, and sales.
The later years
Interval's passion for photography remained strong throughout his life, even after his retirement in 2004. Although his plans to write college-level and professional manuals on portrait photography were never realized, he stayed abreast on the latest photographic techniques and remained active in the photographic community. (He taught his last class—"Introduction to Master's Brush Light, Corrective Lighting, and Facial Analysis"—on April 3, 2006, for the PPA's Super Monday: Legends series. He spent the last two years of his life living with Dora in the Pittsburgh suburb of Moon Township, Pennsylvania. He died on December 4, 2006, at the age of 83 due to complications from heart problems.
- Official Jerry Interval website
- The Psychological Approach to Photographic Design
- Award-winning portrait, wedding photographer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Obituary
- Professional Photographers of America (PPA)
- American Society of Photographers (ASP)
- Triangle Photographers Association (TPA)
- Photographic Society of America (PSA)
- "Interval named master of photography," North Hills News Record August 9, 1972, p. 20.
- "Jerry Interval is named master photo craftsman," North Hills News Record, August 28, 1974, p. 26.
- Ziser, David A. Captured by the Light. Peachpit Press, 2010, p. 140.
- "20 exhibitors expected at Tri-State photo show," The Pittsburgh Press, September 20, 1984, p. C8.
- Professional Photographers of America Super Monday: Legends, April 3, 2006 at the Wayback Machine (archived March 16, 2006).
- "Award-winning portrait, wedding photographer," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 7, 2006, p. D6.