1985

Jeremy Cowart

BY RELEVANT CURRENT / GLOBAL / ISSUE 52 July 02, 2011

ORIGINALITY > QUALITY

“Getting into photography when I graduated and getting into photography now is a night-and-day difference. These days, the key is not taking good images, the key is taking unique images, because everybody can take a good picture now. The trick is to find your voice and to carve out a niche that is different than the other stuff that’s out there; that’s what art directors are looking for these days—somebody that’s bringing something different to the table. Way too many photographers think quality will get them work, and it’s not really quality that people are looking for: it’s uniqueness.”

CHRISTIANITY IS BECOMING LESS SCARY TO THE SECULAR WORLD

“I think the wariness has dissipated. I think people know Christians are just people; we’re just as normal as anyone else. Hopefully we’ve started to shed that perception that Christians can’t make good art. I think we’re all just living out our faith and trying to be excellent at what we do. I work with people from all religious beliefs, from all backgrounds; everything and everyone imaginable. I’ve worked with Playboy Playmates, I’ve toured with Britney Spears—I’ve done everything. Our job as Christians is to be in the world, not of it.”

WHY I CAME UP WITH HELP-PORTRAIT

“So many people have never seen themselves in a picture, and so to give that gift is really powerful. When you think of the poor, you think they need food, shelter and clothing. You don’t think to show them the value of themselves, to show them they’re special and beautiful. It’s pretty life-changing. It’s life-changing for them and the photographer, I think, in many cases, to see what happens at Help-Portrait events. [We met] a girl who was tortured when she was 11 years old by her father—[he] would dump acid on her face. She always dreamed of having a professional picture with enough hair and makeup to cover her scars, and we were able to do that in Nashville—to give her her first picture at the age of thirtysomething. For her to see herself without scars was a pretty powerful and emotional experience.”

PHOTOGRAPHING THE NEEDY IS REWARDING

“It’s like magic. It’s a unique, special opportunity to be in front of the camera, and it makes me appreciate all the other times I’m holding a camera shooting a celebrity, because photography really is an amazing thing: to use this box to capture a smile, to capture a moment. For that moment to live on forever is a pretty cool thing.”