On his website, Arno Jenkins mentions his quest for the perfect photo – which he has been engaged in since he was just 15 years old. From shooting black and white film then, to a successful freelance photography and graphic design career now. We talked to him about what exactly makes the perfect photo and where his quest to capture it has taken him so far.
Being fortunate enough to have access to a lab where he could develop film and make prints meant that a younger Arno was able to indulge an early interest in taking photos. Thankfully these formative days of developing in the dark were the start of a lifelong passion and one that Arno was able to turn into a successful and lifelong career.
Today Arno is based in Portland, Oregon. Although his photographic career had humble beginnings Arno was soon able to incorporate his photography into his design work. “Early in my career most of the photographs I was being paid for were product photographs needed as content to enhance the digital design work I was doing for my clients”. At this point Arno’s travel and landscape photography remained more of a hobby, but “as time went on, I realized there was interest in my hobby photography as well, so my photography focus grew”.
To date, Arno has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and North America. “Two of the more interesting places I’ve shot were Bosnia/Herzegovina and Hong Kong. In Bosnia/ Herzegovina, I saw a country starting to recover from its recent wars where buildings in villages were still riddled with bullet holes and abandoned homes quietly dotted the countryside. Hong Kong, on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, seemed bustling and endless. Buildings there reached staggering heights. In both places, there were numerous opportunities for street photography, architectural shots, and fascinating expansive landscapes”.
Arno is an artist at heart and says that photography as a means of expression, is his life’s work. “I don’t know exactly why it is, but I think photos help us quiet our mind and bring focus to a fleeting moment in time”. He goes on to say that “I think most of us also end up taking for granted that what’s here today will still be here tomorrow even though we know it isn’t true. As I get older and travel more. I am reminded of this. My photography has given me purpose and has taken me down paths I could not foresee. It has taught me things about art, about people, about so much more”.
As he is still on his quest for the perfect photo we asked Arno what exactly he is looking for. He doesn’t have a firm technical definition but says that “a great image doesn’t necessarily follow the rules of composition, lighting, and color. It’s more about how I feel when I look at a photo. For me a perfect photo captures a moment with just enough detail and interest, with emotion or starkness, doesn’t confuse and inspire your sense of wonder. I either want a photo to give me just enough that I feel like I was in the experience or I want a photo to give me an outline but let my imagination fill in the blanks with a lingering question mark”.
He is quick to point out that he doesn’t often go out to shoot with a specific purpose or mission. “I go to places that interest me, places I have never been, places I have heard or read about and then I wander about and let the shots come to me. It has worked pretty well for me.”
It’s the unpredictability of things that happen along the way that Arno often enjoys most and what he spends his time shooting. When he leaves the house in the morning his Fuji X100S is always with him and he’s a Fujifilm devotee. Although he says that “switching over to Fuji cameras exclusively did take some time”. “I worked with the Fuji X-T1 for nearly a year before deciding Fuji was the system for me. I liked how easy it was to use and that it was inconspicuous. While traveling, the last thing you want is everyone noticing your gear. After taking the X-T1 on a six-week European trip a few years ago I sold my other cameras and lenses and haven’t looked back”.
Keeping his workflow simple involves using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. As he is keeping track of technology trends, Arno mentions that Capture One recently added tethered capture support for a line of Fujifilm cameras so he’s looking into the benefits of using it.
Of course, Arno is also a Pixsy user, having been invited to one of the first iterations in 2015. “In today’s online world copyright infringement is a constant problem. This was a game changer. Using the service allows me to see which photographs have been used. Since I began using Pixsy I have been successful in closing a number of copyright infringement cases and have received proper compensation”.
Giving a short list when asked which photographers have influenced him (which includes Annie Leibovitz, Joe McNally, Dan Winters, Sally Menn, Cartier Bresson, Richard Avedon, and Gregory Heisler to name a handful) Arno also has tips for aspiring photographers.
“Connect with other photographers and learn from them. It’s so easy to get caught up in social media. Don’t let others turn your passion into a competition. Listen to what’s valuable to you, discard the rest.”
Finally, he says, “Take your camera with you when you go out take pictures even when you feel uninspired. Learn the basics. Learn your camera. Take lots of photos. Study them. Look for the picture within the picture, the one you wish you would have taken. Learn from it. Understand, what the perfect photo means to you”.