Interview #16: Jane Crout

6/8/09

CUS: First of all, the most standard question in the book: how did you get into photography? 

Jane Crout: I got into photography towards the end of middle school when a friend and I spontaneously decided to take a free black and white darkroom course at a community center near my house. the program was offered through Gallery44 in downtown Toronto and really made me fall in love with photography. 

 

CUS: Tell us a little about where you live. 

JC: I live in Etobicoke, a suburb near the lake in the west end of Toronto. This summer however, I'm moving into a house in the Latin Quarter of Montreal. Montreal is my favorite place in the whole world.

 

CUS: Do you have a favorite photographer? 

JC: Diane Arbus has always been one of my favorite photographers. I also really love Ed Burtynsky.

 

CUS: Do you always have preconceived concepts of what you want to shoot? 

JC: Hardly ever. I try to always be carrying around some sort of camera and just take pictures whenever I feel especially inspired. And when shooting portraits, I really prefer candid shots.

 

CUS: What kind of camera do you enjoy using the most?

JC: I love experimenting with different cameras. Medium format, disposables, my dad's old SLR, Holgas, etc. I just got a beautiful old medium format camera that I'm working on getting repaired and am really looking forward to playing around with! I enjoy pretty much anything except for digital.

 

CUS: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

JC: Oatmeal, banana yogurt and 1/2 of a mango!

 

CUS: If every photograph should contain one key element, what would it be in your opinion? 

JC: Authenticity.

 

CUS: What’s playing on your iTunes right now?

JC: A mix CD from my beautiful friend Mieke.

 

CUS: If you could photograph any person (past or present) who would you choose?

JC: Robert Johnson.

 

CUS: Do you have a favorite subject you like to shoot? And why?

JC: Nature, concrete, walls, buildings, light, shadows, colors, people, buildings, anything. It really depends on the day and how I'm feeling. I have noticed that the simple and the banal are two themes that have remained consistent in my photos over the years.

 

CUS: How much time do you generally spend on a shoot? 

JC: It isn't often that I will have any preconceived notion of what I want to shoot. I don't usually spend much time planning to take pictures. I usually just carry around a camera and take photos when I feel like I should.

 

CUS: What is your most treasured possession?

JC: My first camera. It was my dad's old SLR that he gave me when I first started taking pictures. 

 

CUS: What is the thing you like the least about photography? The most?

JC: I like photography's versatility and portability, I don't like the cost!

 

CUS: If you could go anywhere in the world to take photographs where would you go?

JC: I want to travel the world but I am happy taking pictures anywhere. No matter where you are, you can always create beautiful photos. 

 

CUS: What are some of your favorite films?

JC: Rushmore, the original Manchurian Candidate, Blue Velvet and Grease

 

CUS: What sort of themes do you try to explore through your photographs? Is there any one in particular in which you try to convey often? 

JC: Simplicity.

 

CUS: Geometry, lines and patterns seem to play an important role in your photography; what is it about these subjects that interest you?

JC: There definitely is something there that attracts me. Although geometry, lines and patterns are consistent in my photos, I really can't explain why. There is just something in the aesthetic that tends to draw me in.

 

CUS: What’s your fondest childhood memory?

JC: Camping at the Pinery.. The most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.

 

CUS: What is your favorite photograph that you’ve taken, and what’s the story behind it?

JC: My favorite photograph is probably a photo I took a few years ago of a construction site near my house. It was almost completely hidden from view by a big wooden fence. One day I looked in through a little break in the fencing and saw a giant hole in the ground that must have been several stories deep. There's something in the way that something so big, and so beautiful was so easily overlooked by people who would pass by it on a daily basis.

 

CUS: Do you believe that with the rise of digital photography the phrase “everyone can be a photographer” is true? 

JC: I feel like that has always been true. That's part of the reason why I love photography so much.

 

CUS: What’s have you always wanted to photograph but have thought was too hard or difficult to execute?

JC: Strangers.

 

CUS: What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on a photo shoot?

JC: Nothing too weird, yet.. Probably having to wake up at 5am in order to shoot 20 portraits of 20 different people within the first couple of minutes of them waking up.

 

CUS: If you could be anyone for a day who would you be?

JC: Anyone! That would be such a crazy experience..

 

CUS: Where does your inspiration usually come from?

JC: Colours, shapes, and other subtleties. 

 

CUS: What are five things you can’t live without?

JC: Friends, family, my camera, music, and (I hate to admit it) my cell phone.

 

CUS: What are your other hobbies besides photography?

JC: Spending time with friends, listening to music, drawing, traveling..

 

CUS: Who, or what, is your biggest influence?

JC: The people that I love.

 

CUS: What is something that no one knows about you?

JC: I can barely ride a bike!

 

CUS: What is your favorite time of day to shoot? 

JC: I really like shooting mid-day, in overcast weather. Or in the evening when the shadows are long, and the light is warmer.

 

CUS: Do your photographs go through some sort of post-processing treatment? And if so what kind of effect do you try to produce through Photoshop/other post-processing tools?

JC: Hardly ever, if anything I'll sometimes adjust the levels or crop an image, but that's about it.

 

CUS: What advice would you give to your fellow up-and-coming photographers? 

JC: Don't let cost or inconveniences keep you from shooting with film, you won't regret it. And take lots of pictures!

 

CUS: Where do you see yourself in 20 years? Do you think that photography will still be a big part of your life?

 JC: I don't even know where I see myself in one year. Hopefully I'll be happy, well-traveled and still taking pictures.

 

CUS: What are your plans for the summer?

JC: I'm working full-time at a cafe near my house. I'll hopefully have some time to take some nice photographs and spend a few weeks relaxing in Montreal before its back to school.

 

CUS: Our last interviewee, Susannah Benjamin, wants to know: If a genie could grant you one wish, what would it be and why?

JC: An unlimited supply of film and cameras and access to a darkroom. Mmmmm.

 

CUS: Last but not least, what would you like to ask our next Interviewee?

JC: Do you believe that photography is a dying art?

Jane Crout from Toronto, Canada

jane.crout@gmail.com

 

Images provided by Jane Crout. All rights reserved.