Studies in color, shape, and desire

Dedham, MA 05/13/2014 Balcones Texas Whisky Alex Jones /

Dedham, MA 05/13/2014
Balcones Single Malt, distilled in my native land of Texas.
Alex Jones /

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been trying something new with my personal work: I’ve been making stuff up.

It’s a strange feeling, coming from the land of Photojournalism, where everything must be the truth, and strict ethical rules prevent photographers from influencing the outcome of the situations they photograph.  Break the rules, and your career is over (with regular high profile examples serving as cautionary tales).  But recently I’ve been creating photographs out of nothing.  Fabricating everything from the subject to the environment they exist in.  And it’s exhilarating.

I’ve gone shopping for glassware and let the shape dictate the rest of the photograph like a little transparent muse.  I’ve read books about lighting theory.  I’ve spent hours diving off the deep end of the Internet searching for lighting modifiers that don’t exist.  I’ve covered shelves in the studio with liquor bottles and a small forest of drinking glasses, which has suddenly made me very popular with my neighbors.

But more importantly, I’ve been able to lose myself in my work again.


Dedham, MA 03/10/2014
Tito’s Vodka Martini, one olive.
Alex Jones /

This was the beginning, a study in shape. If I were to do it over today, I would try and add an edge light on the right side as well, but at the time I only owned one strip bank. It’s rough and full of technical issues, but I learned a lot putting this photo together — and it spawned a recurring series, which is the most important part.

Dedham, MA 03/12/2014 Old Weller Antique Bourbon. Alex Jones /

Dedham, MA 03/12/2014
Old Weller Antique 107 Bourbon.
Alex Jones /

I’ve used window light, one studio light, a bunch of studio lights, and an unreasonable amount of foam core.

Dedham, MA 03/11/2014 Cabernet. Alex Jones /

Dedham, MA 03/11/2014
Cabernet Sauvignon.
Alex Jones /

I found a secluded corner on the exterior of my building that forms a natural studio, open only on one side. The highlight on this glass is the overcast late winter sky.

Dedham, MA 03/17/2014 Irish Whisky for St. Patrick's Day Alex Jones /

Dedham, MA 03/17/2014
Bushmills Irish Whiskey for St. Patrick’s Day
Alex Jones /

I’ve used a holiday as an excuse to spend all afternoon in my studio playing with light.

Dedham, MA 04/01/2014 Vodka Tonic. Alex Jones /

Dedham, MA 04/01/2014
Vodka Tonic.
Alex Jones /

I’ve let a color (in this case, the light blue faded paint found in a stairwell of my building) dictate the feeling of a picture.

Dedham, MA 04/04/2014 Tito's Vodka Martini, three olives. Alex Jones /

Dedham, MA 04/04/2014
Tito’s Vodka Martini, three olives.
Alex Jones /

And finally, I’ve done things with Photoshop that seem like they should break absolutely all of the rules. But the best and most rewarding part has been the relationship between me and my work. Time disappears when I make these pictures. Emails go unanswered, tweets unread. And that’s a healthy thing.

For all those reasons, and a few more, I’m displaying prints of these pictures during Dedham Open Studios this weekend. If you’re in the Boston area, I’d love to see you.  Directions are here.

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