The year in photos: Jordan Drake and the art of crying

26 Dec


Crying is a highly evolved human trait. Tears can be an indicator of fear or stress. They can simply be a mechanism to flush out the eyes. Or they can convey joy and pain, heartache and elation. Distilled to their very core, tears are the truth. Tears are a most sincere way of reaching out for human connection, and so I would ask the reader to hold this concept tightly as they bear witness to Jordan and his experience. I would ask of the reader a willingness to reach out to Jordan and internalize that sincerity through the medium of the photograph.

Before we start this journey for connection I feel it necessary to reveal that these photos were not taken once per month as this slide show suggests. The human spirit does not follow a schedule and these powerful moments were captured as they birthed themselves upon the stage, if you will, that is DPReview TV. They will be shown in an order that does not harness itself to chronological accuracy, but rather is akin to a musical composition intended to stir the soul in its entirety. Let us begin.

* In case you’re not familiar with DPReview TV, here’s the backstory: In many of their weekly video episodes, our hosts Chris and Jordan feature a photo of Jordan curled up in the fetal position. It’s a bit of a running gag, Jordan’s soul isn’t really tortured by demons (or so we’ve been told). If you have’t discovered DPReview TV yet, you can find episodes here.


The photo before you was taken in Wayne, Alberta. All around us the harsh, weather-worn canyons stood silent sentinel to Jordan’s struggle. The roadway symbolizes not only a means of transition but also a vector of impending danger. The bridge a final gateway to salvation from that state of being. Yet Jordan has collapsed short of his goals and instead must simply cry out as the valley bears witness. It is the Panasonic S1 which allows that moment to be appreciated by all.


This is a local city green space in Calgary named Shepherd’s Park. The brutal metal grating causes Jordan discomfort as he hesitantly lies down upon it. Our hero clings tightly to his Panasonic GH5, monopod, and headphones, the tools of his expression. They are also like a prison to him, a concept further sustained by the rigid framing of the metal gantry. He is trapped, but perhaps he has also chosen his prison. Is the Canon EOS 90D not also a prison to his struggle?


Ah Seattle! Your charming hills, and quiet neighborhoods set the stage for this next humanistic landscape. The monochromatic nature of this image serves a dual purpose. It simplifies the intent capturing the banality of the environment. It also requests the viewer to bring their own experiences to the artwork. Have you not found yourself clinging to sanity in a car port? Have you not also smelled the stench that lingers in such places? Jordan is experiencing this very thing, here on the pavement, and in doing so brings about a deep connection with you the viewer. You are both crying in a driveway now. The Nikon Z50 sees you both.


Not all tears represent sadness, or misery. They can be uplifting and joyful too. Their power lies in the expression of both the heights, and abysses, of human emotion. Jordan is a self proclaimed cinephile with a passion for movie-making, and a deep appreciation for the craft. The mural sang to him a moment of pure elation, straight from the celluloid. He was overcome and found himself compelled to dance, drowning in a symphony of joy. I was humbled to have captured it with the Nikon Z7. It did not falter.


A quiet stillness falls over an autumnal lake. Jordan falls over a picnic table. An Olympus EM5-3 clicks once. A singular truth is revealed. It occurs only in this unique image. Jordan lies now left to right. Left to right. Profundity.


Wait! Hey Jordan, run up the highway and lie down in the middle. Do I have to? Yes! It’ll look great, do it. What about traffic? Do it! – Friendship – GFX100


This image is a personal favorite of mine. Notice the strong leading line drawing the eyes to our reluctant hero. The organic shapes, the smooth curves, the magenta hues, all speak to a sense of the living body. We witness a childhood. We witness a birthing. Is it a skatepark, or is it a womb? The Fuji GFX 50R reveals the truth, but only you can interpret it.


Leitz Park. Wetzlar, Germany. One would be forgiven for assuming the common stereotype that Leica is only style, engineering, and precision. On the most superficial level they create cameras as works of art. However, when one digs deeper one finds a company defined by its people. Its people are defined universally by their kindness and their willingness to give. Here they have given him an opportunity to create with the pinnacle of their lens technology. Jordan is a person of deep emotion, and once again he is overcome. His face speaks only truth, his elation is clear, his gratitude is given. The Leica SL2 brings this sincerity to the forefront. It simply whispers ‘Thank You.’


The smartphone has arrived, a harbinger of change in an industry that never wants to. Its message is a whisper that will grow into a cacophonous roar. Many of us hear only a gentle song on a winter’s breeze. Jordan however is not one of us. His senses are astute and his understanding is omniscient. He hears the roar and it is deafening. The shrill call brings him to his knees, and he must curl up in the fetal position or risk madness. I produced the Pixel 4 from my pocket and so I am the one to blame. This picture is my guilty confession.


Why is Jordan sitting up? He always lies down in the filth and the muck. He is mine to create with. Never questioning, and always accommodating. And yet we see him spared from the veritable ocean of grime which surrounds his small island of respite. Is the pursuit of pure art less important than his comfort? Should we not all sacrifice for our craft? Does the Sony a7R III not also deserve this tribute? Is pain and suffering not the fertilizer of the sublime? However, he is safe and warm. He cries because I am furious with him, and yet he remains dry. That is why this photo sucks.


I call this photo ‘Goldilocks’. The one on the left is too proud. The one on the right is too demure. But the one in the middle is just right! Also the astro-turf and garish display of cheap plastics communicate my personal statement about rampant and wasteful consumerism. How it effects workers, environmental factors, and our social consciousness, et cetera, et cetera. Taken with the Fuji XT3.


Our last photo is a palate cleanser of sorts. It is not a statement about the inherent duality of our existence. Nor is it a dissertation about Jordan’s emotional state. It is not a symphony or a poem. It has no higher purpose as art, nor does it ascend to the realms of the sublime. It simply is our Christmas card picture to all of you for supporting us during 2019! We appreciate the opportunity you give us all to entertain firstly, and educate secondly. Thank you so much to all of our friends and compatriots at DPReview for all your hard work in making our show possible. Here’s to an excellent 2020 and all the promise the New Year will bring. Oh, I almost forgot, this was taken with the Canon 5DmkIV.

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