Lou Jones specializes in location photography for corporate and editorial clients like Aetna, Federal Express, Nike and National Geographic. He has completed assignments in 50 countries and 48 out of the 50 United States, photographing royalty and the third world, the sacred and profane.
With a lifelong passion for photojournalism and social documentary, Jones has worked with institutions like Amnesty International, the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, and the Barr Foundation. He has photographed jazz legends like Miles Davis, athletes like Willie Mays and Roger Clemens, celebrities Orson Welles and Matt Damon, twelve Olympic Games, and inmates on death row. Lou Jones has exhibited his eclectic fine art imagery in multiple colleges and schools such as Harvard, Phillips Exeter Academy, Texas Tech University and Middle Tennessee State University, with major shows and inclusion in collections at Smithsonian Institution, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Decordova Museum, Gallery Saintonge and the Center for Fine Art Photography.
In 1997, Jones published his first book, Final Exposure: Portraits from Death Row, which chronicled his six-year odyssey documenting men and women on death rows in the USA. For this Jones received the Ehrmann Award from the Massachusetts Citizens against the Death Penalty. In collaboration with New England College Press, Jones interviewed and photographed 14 imprisoned writers for the book Exiled Voices: Portals of Discovery. In 2006 Jones published travel+PHOTOGRAPHY: off the charts, giving readers travel tips and photography instruction taken from his own adventures. Jones released his fourth book in the spring of 2009, Speedlights and Speedlites.
“After decades it has become apparent that there are basically two steps to success in photography. One, strive unflinchingly for thirty years to create the best work you can constantly, get lucky enough to be recognized by a few people, who give you an exhibition at a prestigious gallery or museum. Two, strive for 29 years making the best art you can then refer to step one.
I did not have a choice. When the decision to become a photographer was thrust upon me, I could never have anticipated the quixotic life that lay before me. At first I envisioned circumnavigating the globe with two Leica cameras around my neck curing the ills of the world with photographs. Of course this is/was hubris. Reality eventually sets in and you begin the arduous tasks of making a living and sustaining your avocation.
Fortunately that turns out to be the real journey: forging a body of work, using imagination to not only create your art but to overcome the many obstacles society has thrown in your way, transcending the stereotypes of both advocate and foe, educating and nurturing friends and colleagues for their moral support and to improve the overall fraternity of your profession. While amassing the miles getting to and from my destinations, piling up the slides and negatives documenting alien environments and telling stories about the history and lives of the myriad people I met along the way, I have had the good fortune to collaborate with employees, interns and students who have sacrificed to manage the logistics, research and production of the insanity inside my head. Satisfying clients and editors has allowed us to continue but my colleagues have repurposed many of our images. As a consequence many institutions and schools have been interested and generous enough to allow me to share my view of the world.
Most of the “talents” necessary are not natural to me. I had to teach myself everything I know. It was largely a matter of survival: learning aesthetics, tedious, mundane time honing your craft, overcoming distrust and distaste for mediocrity, staying afloat and avoiding seductive enticements of “normal life”. Business, etiquette, civility, self awareness are all attributes that are learned responses to outside pressures.
Therefore I do not often take pictures of my inner self, rarely investigating my psychological makeup or internal mind. My photography is of the external world, intended to illuminate everything surrounding me. Carefully I have spent a lifetime designing my life and, to do so, casting light on all forms of objects, ideas, ideologies and people that have little or no voice.
Having reached mid career only slightly damaged, we are embarking on ambitious new ventures. Rather than waiting for the perfect assignment to come along we are initiating our own. Social documentary work seems to be the direction our current efforts are taking. We have been building a multi-year photography project that is designed to actually be self-sustaining once it is launched.
Each project, each photograph is a milestone in that long term progression. My photography has informed my career, my politics, my interests and vice versa, the entropy of my life has directed the momentum of my photography. Although I have accomplished only the second step to success above, without precedent, without role models, without portfolio, without resources, my art has allowed me to exist, grow and maybe make number one easier for the ones who come next.”