Jim Pinckney

I have been interested in Photography as long as I can remember. I grew up in Monterey and attended High School there. I studied Psychology and theoretical mathematics at the University of Miami in Florida.

I actually trace my Photography career back to the movie, Blow-up (1966), Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. The film is based on the life of the London photographer, David Bailey, who balanced fashion photography with his art. The Idea that Photography could be both a job and an artistic endeavor caught my interest. Later, I took workshops at the Friends of Photography in Carmel, from the greats who were there at the time, but I had no luck selling my landscape work.

By chance I met an advertising photographer, Walter Swarthout, and ended up assisting him in his studio in San Francisco. He had assisted Irving Penn in New York City. When I returned to Monterey, I opened an advertising photography studio on Cannery Row. Later, I also taught photography at Monterey Peninsula College and at UC Santa Cruz.

Walter had told me that New York City was the place to go if you wanted to photograph people (which I did). So, when a friend, David Williams, called to say he had found a studio in New York City that we could sublet I jumped at the chance. I assisted other “people photographers” while I did my own work there.

Along the way I had developed an interest in cinematography, so when I was offered some work as a cinematographer in Miami I could not resist. I spent eight years there shooting television, documentaries and even a feature film. Miami was also a center for Fashion photography.

I am now back in Monterey, shooting from my new photo and film production space.

Artist’s Statement

Photography has given me an opportunity to combine the commercial and personal in my life’s work. I get satisfaction from both, but of course, only the personal work is really my own. I also confess to a certain fascination with the technology, perhaps it is the mathematician in me. Ansel Adams once said that “it takes twenty years for the equipment to become transparent”. I have found that to be true, Photography for me has always been an exploration of the world, a way to capture the beauty that surrounds us. But to make a good photograph you have to learn how to see, really see. To quote Ansel Adams again “a good photograph is knowing where to stand” I hesitate to call what I do art. All I do is look through a camera and push the button when I see a good picture. The trick is seeing it.