We had the good fortune of connecting with Jim Stone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jim, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
My favorite thing in life is perspective – how it can be so different between two people and how one can change their own just as much. With my work, my aim is to provide my viewers with the adventure of experiencing a new perspective with each piece, and ideally more than once in each viewing.
My aerials are photographed directly at the ground but intend to spark an alternative point of view in the imagination of a vertical landscape of a new, unfamiliar place – somehow looking at the skyline, horizon, and even underground all at the same time. I often think of them as vertical geological slices – similar to what it looks like driving on a road cut through a mountain with the layers visible of what would normally be hidden underground – taken in a mystical, unknown place.
Even more enjoyable than discovering these natural wonders has been watching people discover them through my photographs. Viewers’ expressions as they try to make sense of what they’re seeing is a study in evolving perspectives. Is this a painting or a photograph? Is it a vertical slice or earth and sky or an aerial photo? How can it be an aerial photo? What am I looking at? My work is designed to spark curiosity, confusion, and finally revelation. One’s mind becomes the artist, resolving the picture into a variety of forms.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
After working organizing startups in San Francisco for years I felt a huge pull to be more artistically creative full time. As a commercial photographer I experienced a lot of this but I found my real joy with my drone, and specifically over the salt ponds near San Francisco. I found a new way to experience something I’d seen several times and love sharing those perspectives.
One lesson I’ve learned is to keep exploring. You never know what something is going to look like until you just get the camera into the air and find out. I typically scout out places beforehand with online maps but sometimes I just get the drone up into the air in random places and I’m almost always able to find something beautiful that I didn’t know was there.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I travel almost full-time so I’m rarely in just one place. Right now I’m in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico. A visit isn’t complete without walking down the Real de Guadalupe and up the steps of the lovely church at the end. The best time is to catch the sunset over the town and behind the mountains.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Noah Berger (https://noahbergerphoto.com) has always been a great mentor and friend. He helped me early on in my career with encouragement and great critique. He was the first one to order large-scale prints from me that cover a whole wall of his home, which I’m completely honored by.
Scott Frances (https://scottfrances.com) has also been a great mentor and friend. I’ve been assisting his workshops at the Palm Springs Photo Festival for the last several years and learned a lot about how to focus my work. His advice of “it’s good to hate your work” has helped me continue to work harder to find the shots that I love.
The photo of me (black shirt with camera logo) is courtesy of Noah Berger