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West Boylston’s Frank Jansen Challenges Viewers with Abstract Photography

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Frank Jansen, a local photographic artist out of West Boylston, is a man of many homes and many talents. Photography, once a favorite hobby, has turned into a passion and a profession.

His work now exemplifies, in stunning fashion, the ability of photography to be considered art.

Jansen was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, where he received a classical high school education, supplemented by a fascination with the Dutch artists of the 17th century. He also held an interest in the many works he found exploring the Boijmans Van Beunington Museum in his hometown. While there, he took a particular liking to surrealist art, particularly that of the famed 20th century master of the surreal, Salvador Dali.

In 1976, Jansen moved to the United States to attend Denison University in Granville, Ohio. It is here where he initially took an interest in photography.

"My initial forays into photography occurred when I received a Kodak C110 film camera and were mostly travel photography. During my time in college, I found my first 35mm camera, an Olympus OM-1, which served me well for a large number of years, as I expanded my range of photography to look more at forms and shapes in the world around us."

At this point, however, and for a number of years after college, photography was just a curiosity for Frank. He traveled around looking for work in the high-tech industry, and focusing on looking for an ideal place to settle with his family. He found that place in Central Mass.

"After college, I decided to stay in the US...with jobs moving me from Columbus, Ohio, and Colorado Springs to ultimately settle in Massachusetts in 1990. In 1999, I moved to West Boylston, both for the quality of the schools and overall feel of the community."
He goes on. "During this period, photography had taken a bit of a backseat."

However, this woold soon change.

"After my wife and I settled in West Boylston, our mutual interest in dogs and the dogsport of agility caused me to become immersed in photography once more. What started as casual photographing of the dogs' action, quickly grew into a business and both drove the growth of my photographic skills and opened up opportunities through the connections that I made."

This rekindling of interest in photography for Jansen was further helped by the advent of digital photography, which allowed more than ever the ability of photography to be transformed into an artistic medium, especially for Jansen's specific purposes. He soon moved beyond dogs and into the realm of the abstract, remembering his fine education in the arts.

"Photography provides a platform that allows one to look into the world around us in ways that are not apparent to the human eye. The ability to take an alternate view of the world we inhabit has always been very exciting to me. In the abstract photography that I have worked on over the past couple of years, I use this ability and take it a step further through effects, such as zooming or moving the camera during a shot. My approach is to look at a scene and visualize the messages that lie beneath the surface. I enjoy the science experiment feeling that I get from capturing a scene in an unusual manner."

His admiration for surrealist art can be seen in his abstract work, especially in his desire to have viewers look "beneath the surface" of his photography and "take an alternate view of the world." Indeed, this is what can make art in general so powerful, finding meaning that goes beyond the superficial image on the surface, and receiving a "fresh perspective" of the world that surrounds.

'When people view my images, I sincerely hope that they allow themselves to open up to what is in front of them. I think that when they do that, they will be surprised by what they feel while gazing at one of my images. I enjoy the reactions that I get from people when they have allowed an image to reach them; no two people get the exact same reaction, which is a manifestation of their individual selves."

Jansen chooses the images he wishes to capture with the same thing in mind, based on the feelings that arise in him when viewing a potential subject.

"I very much tend to go through phases in terms of the subjects that most intrigue me and that, as a result, I want to capture. The abstract images have taken shape mostly from organic subjects, with a good amount coming from trees and flowers. For my abstract work, I very much go by the feel that a subject gives me, whether it is a tree, a flower or a rock; each subject gives off certain vibrations that guide me to capture the image in a certain manner, which I can usually achieve with a small amount of experimentation."

Despite the ability of digital photographs to be manipulated with advancements of modern technology, Jansen is careful not to overdo it, wishing to preserve the purity of the image and maintain the original feel of the subject in question. He wishes to enhance without destroying the image, a technique that is certainly more difficult than it sounds.

Much of the hard work comes before the picture is even taken; this involves  ever so subtle movements of the camera, various zoom blur techniques, and long duration exposures. One must visualize the future, anticipating the "morphing" and "tweaking" that must be done in order get the exact balanced wanted.

"In all my abstract work, I strive to stay true to producing the entire image in camera; any effects are created in camera and post-processing is limited to cropping, touching up sensor dust, sharpening and occasional color correction. In doing this, I want to preserve the feel that I had at the scene during the capture of the image."

Jansen is currently working on his first book of abstract photography to be entitled “Kryptomorphaics: Uncovering the hidden form" which will contain 25-30 images with accompanying text. He also wishes to expand his repertoire, especially in the direction of set scenes with  models.

Ultimately, Jansen will continue to push himself, experimenting, always continuing to learn and advance, and expanding and quenching his creative impulses.

"The creative processes that are used in getting a particular image are a key part to my enjoyment of photography, as well as the ability to really get in touch with a subject. Also, as photographers tend to be a bit self-critical, it is very gratifying when I am 99% happy with a print I produce."

For more information on Frank Jansen and to view his work please click here.


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