88

Photos of Life

Capturing the passion of
photographer Forest James

Some people just seem to be born with 'it'. What is 'it'? 'It' is what separates the men from the boys, the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats ... well, you get the picture! And speaking of pictures ... look no further than professional photographer, and Swarm partner, Forest James for an example of what it's like to have 'it'. Forest started in photography at a very young age, and was first published in mainstream magazines by his early twenties! Forest was definitely born with 'it'. He's got creative vision in excess. We're jealous, but crazy excited to be able to collaborate with this photographic genius. Maybe some of his excess creativity will rub off on us (one can only dream). Anyhow, enjoy this Q&A article with our good friend Forest James.

Can you tell us a little about yourself personally?

Well... The short version, I was born and raised on the Tolowa reservation on the Northern California Coast where the Redwood trees meet the ocean. I love tradition, cultures of all kinds, and artistic expression in most mediums. I have two beautiful children who teach me something new every day.

How long have you been a photographer?

Over a decade now. I have been shooting since I was about 14 years of age. I started with an old 1970's Pentax and a few lenses roaming the streets of Manhattan with about 75 rolls of film ... and I used them all! I was first published in Vogue and Teen Vogue when I was 23.

Did you go to school to study photography, or are you self-taught?

Not sure I could call it self-taught, I have had many great mentors in my life. My father first showed me how to shoot manually when I was 14. I spent a lot of years in the film industry and followed the Directors of Photography closely. Norman Seeff (www.normanseeff.com) mentored me in my early 20's. Norman let me use his photography studio, lights and gear in Los Angeles (Studio City); the studio was covered with images of his work with the Rolling Stones, Jim Belushi, Johnny Cash, and many others. He said "Forest, if you want to become a photographer, then just keep shooting and the rest will work out". After my first couple of shoots I brought him upstairs to take a peek at some of my first work (dwarfed by the 12'X12' Ike and Tina Turner photo behind us) and he

Continued on Page 90