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Interview with Photography Graduate Jonathan Mark Hedrick

Congratulations to recent Photography Certificate grad Jonathan Mark Hedrick! We spoke to Jonathan about his path to photography, and where he hopes to take his practice. All images included are his.

Tell us about how you got interested in photography and what brought you to the Photography Certificate

My interest in photography began in an organic way. Visual stimuli has always been a means of comfort, inspiration, and education for me. I have always been artistically inclined, drawing and building worlds with things like Legos when I was very young, to taking art classes through my youth and studying art formally in college. I have always been an observer, probably due to the nature of my life as an Army brat and later as a sailor in the US Navy. Furthermore, being adopted has contributed to my preference of observing things, so watching the world in real life and in media is something I respond to. Photography seemed like the logical step for me and my pursuit to find a means to create and express myself.  I learned about the certification program at UCLA Extension and I decided that I wanted to pursue photography in a serious capacity and enrolled for the certificate to learn about the craft.

What’s something about photography that beginning students might not realize?

Beginning students might not realize that photography involves more than making a pretty picture, or the type of camera one uses. Beginners can be overwhelmed with the logistical aspects of photography along with the diverse disciplines that make up the genre, before they find the thing or things they want to photograph. My experience in the time I was enrolled in the program has led me down many paths that photography can offer, and I believe that it will be a constant learning experience. One can learn how to operate a camera and operate lights, read a scene before them, compose it even. I think photography is more than that, and a large component is what the person behind the camera is doing it all for. I know I didn’t sign up with that in mind when I wanted to learn “photography”. 

For your portrait series, can you share what you were exploring with these images, and how you approached the project? 

My conceptual works stem from current and past experiences, observations, and the feelings I personally have about those experiences. During my Photography II class with Natasha Rudenko, I was introduced to works by Cindy Sherman, Gregory Crewdson, Carrie May Weems, and other conceptual photographers. It had a profound effect on me. It was exhilarating and inspirational that a distinct messaging style of portraiture could be created by using allegory and visual metaphors. I like to understand and explain things with analogies and I suppose this is why I gravitated to this sort of composition.  

I am exploring the human experience through my eyes, using analogies that inform me of the ways I can express what it’s like to be unseen, consumed, distant, oppressed, afraid, etc. 

Where do you hope to take your photography practice in the future? 

At this point, it’s challenging to decide on one thing to do or where I see myself. There are so many aspects to photography that I deeply enjoy and am attracted to. I would love to work as an editorial/portrait photographer like Richard Phibbs, or do long projects like Alex Soth and grand tableaus like Gregory Crewdson. I can only stay dedicated and hope that will lead me to creating meaningful work aside from just doing photography as a conventional job. I want to contribute to the world and it feels like I’m just getting started. 

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