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Meet Jason Kinney

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jason Kinney.

Hi Jason, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today.
I have always had a passion for art. I moved a lot when I was growing up, forcing me to find entertainment on my own. I never had great friends growing up or ‘best friends’ like many other kids I met. Almost the contrary; I was always the new kid and never able to break the barrier of not having grown up with the kids around me. This all made me find ways to entertain myself. During my time alone, I was usually drawing or playing video games. Both of those ended up giving me a better eye for imagery. As I aged, I grew away from drawing and went through a small point in life where I didn’t do anything creatively. It started to become a sort of depression and I wasn’t able to put my finger on what was creating it.

One day, I was hanging out with a friend of mine that went to school for photography. He was a bit of an obsessive person when it came to photography… he collected all of the highest tech gear and knew EVERY single thing that they all did. He could tell you everything, such as details all about the screws in the base of the camera that is IMPOSSIBLE to replace. One day, this friend ended up getting me to go to the Missouri Botanical Gardens with him for a live music night. We ended up going almost every week! I always watched him take pictures of everything that we walked by and it eventually got my attention. He always carried around multiple cameras with him and one day I asked to hold one and take a few pictures of my own. After this, I was bit by the bug. I purchased a camera two days later.

Since then, I have been trying to push myself in every way that I can with photography. I met my beautiful and amazing wife through it, she and I both work together running SAJ Photography. We have been booking over two gigs a week and about seven weddings a year. Which isn’t bad for a weekend fun gig to do together! I still love taking pictures with and of my wife all across the world. My passion for photography has been fickle at times… sometimes I have considered selling all of my equipment and investing in a house or something that I feel is considered “normal”, but my wife keeps me inspired. I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today if it weren’t for her.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not at all. At times, I feel like every obstacle possible comes into play. That is why having a spouse there for support is key. I always like to say that any golden road is too slippery to walk on. Those words can’t be more true. Nothing should be easy.

That being said. I was in an abusive relationship where a previous partner would consistently tell me that I needed to sell my camera so that we can put it towards rent or something that is of more value to the “family”. I was very tempted many times but I always found solace in going out with a camera and just taking pictures of anything. I ended up leaving that situation and going out on my own to start over.

After a few more setbacks, I now know that nothing will ever get in between my camera and me.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
This is actually an easy question for me. I have always loved taking pictures of people. Weddings, events, parties, you name it. However, one day I saw a movie that was about a photographer going through a scary situation. The movie was not the important part, but the main character was a primarily black-and-white photographer. No matter how many times I watched the movie, I would always just see all of the pictures that he took and be so impressed.

I then started to change the way I took pictures for fun. I would always put my camera in Black and White Film Simulation on my Fujifilm X100S and go to the streets. Taking pictures of anything and everything. I just saw things better in black and white. Now, besides professional jobs that require me to be shooting in color, I only edit pictures and take pictures in black and white.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
I do not have the best advice for that. The person who was my mentor for some time came into my life by accident.

He was just a workout buddy that ended up being obsessed with cameras. To tell the truth, besides overly technical answers that would in turn confuse me more, I never learned much from him besides the basics of how to use the machine itself. Artistically, I had to find my own form of inspiration. I isolated myself and started projects. Luckily Instagram was becoming popular so I was able to funnel a lot of inspiration from there.

The best thing that you can have in life is a strong support system. I have had plenty of relationships where the partner seems all about it but just looked at my photography as just a short time hobby that will never get in the way. As I stated before, I have almost put down my camera many times. The best thing that could have ever happened to me is finding my wife who picks me up any time I am down about my capability to take pictures. A mentor is a great thing, but having a supportive partner is much, much more.

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