Editor’s note: We are republishing our favorite stories of 2015. This story was originally published on Dec. 2.
Southold photographer Daniel Jones has made his living capturing the raw beauty of nature through arresting images that are sparse, yet powerful in their simplicity.
But this week he’s drawing a lot of attention for an appearance on the other side of the camera.
Jones, a nature and landscape photographer who uses a rather unusual looking 8-by-10 negative view camera, was the subject of a recent CBS Sunday Morning piece titled “Picture Perfect.” The episode of the popular show ran Sunday, Nov. 29.
“Being filmed with a big HD camera is quite intimidating. [The shoot] was the best kind of chaos,” Jones said, adding that he has been inundated with hundreds of emails and calls since the piece aired. “Nonetheless, it was amazing.”
Jones was discovered by the show’s executive producer, Rand Morrison, who had purchased some of the North Fork-based photographer’s work over the years. Jones was dropping off a piece at Morrison’s East Hampton home when the producer suggested a feature for the newsmagazine program.
“I didn’t think it would ever happen,” Jones said during an interview in his Southold studio, a nearly century old barn converted into a workshop and darkroom. “One of the people from CBS called me and I thought it was a joke.”
The crew spent a few days last June filming Jones working at North Fork locations, including the beach at the end of Rocky Point Road in East Marion and at his home studio.
Morrison, who has collected Jones’ work for about a decade, said the photographer was perfect for one of the show’s short, first-person pieces which usually focus on artists.
“[His work] is just so artful, so beautifully composed, so elegantly framed,” Morrison said in a phone interview. “Anybody can take pictures, but not everyone is a great photographer and Daniel proves that.”
He added that Jones’ work, along with the collaboration among the show’s producers and editors, produced a piece that “succeeded in every way.” It also helped that Jones was able to offer articulate insight into his process as an artist, he said.
“You got a real sense of him inside the story,” Morrison said.
The feature appears to have resonated with Sunday Morning’s audience. A link to the segment on the show’s Facebook page had received thousands of likes, shares and comments from viewers, as of Wednesday.
“I’m glad the art of photography isn’t dead,” one commenter wrote. “His work is amazing and lovely. Thanks for the segment!”
The nearly five-minute piece features Jones looking through the viewfinder of the oversized camera at an inverted image of large rocks on a foggy day at the East Marion shoreline. And the resulting images of those boulders are simply stunning.
“I would say my best work is shot here because I know the area so well,” said Jones, a married father of two who spent the first eight years of his life on Shelter Island before moving to Hollywood, Calif. He has lived in Southold since the early 1990s.
Featuring simple, outdoor scenes, Jones’ work evokes the vastness and wonder of nature in his minimalist, meticulously crafted style.
“When I see Daniel’s images I feel a serene peacefulness,” Sue Brown Gordon, director of the Norwalk Art Festival, said during the CBS segment. “He has a way of photographing that’s almost painterly and it creates a magical, emotional moment that brings the viewer in.”
One striking North Fork image highlighted in the feature is of a still rowboat, secured to the shore on an overcast day. It is titled “Fogged In #2.”
“I had been to this boat many times and sometimes I didn’t even take a picture, I just looked at it,” Jones said on camera. “This one morning it was just perfect. The boat is pointing out to the unknown. You don’t know what’s out there. You could go through the veil of the fog and it could be a sunny day.”
Inspired by West Coast photographers like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, Jones said he didn’t begin shooting in color until about three years ago.
“It renders the world surreal, first of all,” he said of black and white images. “But for me, it’s form and texture.”
The large, slow format of the 8 by 10 camera allows for a more deliberate style, which has carried over as he has began to incorporate digital photos into his portfolio.
“It slows me down so I don’t take thousands of digital images,” he said. “Being that the negative is so large (on the 8-by-10), the detail and resolution is incredible. You don’t have that grainy effect of a 35 millimeter.”
To purchase Jones’ work, visit South Street Gallery located at 18 South Street in Greenport or Tulla Booth Gallery located at 66 Main Street in Sag Harbor. Visit his website at DanielJonesPhotography.com.
See more of Jones’ images and watch the CBS Sunday Morning piece here.