Why Editorial Works: Jamie Chung for Document Journal

By Conor Risch

© Jamie Chung
An image of a sculpture by Pierre-Jean David D’Angers by still-life photographer Jamie Chung, shot at The Frick Collection for Document Journal.

It's no secret that budgets for editorial photography are often slim, deadlines are frequently tight and subjects can be less than accommodating. Yet the creative freedom, challenges, experiences and opportunities to make great pictures offer photographers something they can't get from any other type of work. In this series of articles about editorial photography, which originally appeared in the June Photo Annual issue of PDN, photographers talk about what made their favorite editorial jobs great, and about what editorial work means to them. Use the below links to read other articles in this series:
Why Editorial Works: Kareem Black for VIBE

One of the main reasons still-life photographer Jamie Chung shoots editorial work is because it allows him to make a lot of pictures and grow as a photographer. “Shooting and experimenting [are] the only ways I can really see getting better,” he says. And while he could try and improve on his own, working with magazine art directors and photo editors leads to “a collaborative growth where I’m pushed stylistically or conceptually,” he says, which has been “a big part of the improvement” in his work. “It makes my eye sharper and makes me faster and able to shoot different types of things.”

Chung also publishes the editorial work he’s happiest with on his blog, and enters it in contests, which he says are “a really good platform to get your name out there.”

Editorial work also offers a variety of different assignments that are “life-enriching,” Chung says. “I’ve been able to have all of these experiences where I’m traveling to shoot [in interesting places] ... I want to work with interesting people and shoot interesting things, that’s why I got into this, so I feel a lot of fulfillment there.”

One of Chung’s favorite assignments from last year came from Document Journal, a print and digital publication devoted to esthetics. The Frick Collection, a New York City museum, was getting ready to open the first American exhibition of the work of nineteenth century French sculptor Pierre-Jean David d’Angers. Chung went to the museum and set up a makeshift studio in the vault, working with art handlers to photograph the sculptures included in the show.

The brief from Document Journal specified that Chung do something different than one might see in a museum catalogue. “That was perfect for me,” Chung says. His images, which he shot on black seamless, are lit to bring out the beautiful texture of the works.

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