I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, and I loved every moment I got to spend in the woods of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Cape Cod. Though I’ve lived on both coasts, New England will always be home for me. There is something so comforting and beautiful about the lush nature of New England, how close everything is, and how inspired I feel when I’m in our wonderful area. I fell in love with photography in New England, photographing empty landscapes — cornfields and beaches and dirt roads. Those early inspirations will always stay with me.
WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND IN PHOTOGRAPHY?
I am a mostly self-taught photographer. I did not get an MFA. Instead, I got my education by apprenticing at a portrait studio many years ago in San Francisco while taking a few classes at the San Francisco City College. I started out using only instant cameras and shooting Polaroid film, which taught me all about composition and connecting with not only my subjects but also my materials. I’ve never let go of my love of analog photography, and I’ve always shot with film cameras on medium-format film. I use a Hasseblad 500c from 1970, as well as a Contax 645 — both with fixed lenses, very simple setups. Working with film and shooting manually forces you to work slowly and intentionally, which is very important to my process. At times I shoot with my Canon 5d Mark 3 with a fixed 50mm 1.2 lens, but only when I need a faster camera.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I’m inspired by relationships, and the human-animal bond. Although my work focuses on dogs, what I’m really looking at is the human condition. Our animals say so much about us, and the ways in which we treat them and speak about them really act as a vehicle for speaking about ourselves. I clearly love dogs very much, and my job is really fun and challenging. But I equally love getting to know my clients and being invited into their personal lives — getting to experience their joys and sadness and how the unconditional love of an animal makes them feel supported and safe. That kind of emotional experience is what inspires me every day.
To see more of Jesse Freidin’s work, go to jessefreidin.com. To learn more about his book, Finding Shelter, go to findingshelterportraits.com.
Dog Portraits | Featured Photographer Jesse Freidin