Outside The Lines

If packed First Fridays are any indication, Denver’s art scene is booming. Meet seven local artists who are dripping, collaging, and welding their way onto museum and gallery walls around the country.

August 27 2012, 2:55 PM

The Traditionalist

Quinn Jacobson

There’s something in the haze that settles over Quinn Jacobson’s photos, an imprecise blurriness that imparts a haunting, timeless quality. It’s a characteristic that leaves his subjects looking burdened, as if they’re carrying the disapproving opinions of the world in their eyes. And, often, they are. In exploring themes of otherness and marginalization, the 48-year-old photographer has taken images of sex offenders and prostitutes and others outside the mainstream, and styled images in a manner akin to the way the Nazis photographed prisoners.

Yet even with the unsettling subject matter, beauty emerges. Jacobson’s cameras are large, vintage machines set on wooden tripods with bellows for focusing and shiny brass lenses that date to the American Civil War. These are tools for 1850s photography: daguerreotypes, calotypes, and wet collodion prints. Jacobson has spent more than a decade perfecting the process—from pouring the chemicals (which he imports from Europe) and framing the shot (he ducks under a black sheet to focus the image, which appears upside down in the camera) to the darkroom. “They’re imperfect images,” he says, pointing to fingerprints and pieces of dust that have settled into the corners of the copper plates. Those flaws, layers of meaning, the paradox of what is visible and what is hidden—it’s all the essence of Jacobson’s work. None of us, no matter how good or successful, is flawless. That is the very definition of humanity.

5280.com Exclusive: Meet photographer Quinn Jacobson.

Outside the Lines: A Conversation with Photographer Quinn Jacobson from 5280 on Vimeo.