Where does photography end and fine art begin? That’s the question the U.S. Copyright Office had for Wolfgang Jasper when he submitted his hybrid work for Copyright protection. It’s basically the same question judges at the recent Virginia Professional Photographers Association (VPPA) print competition.
After considering and re-considering Jasper’s submission of photography/abstract art called Icebound Anamoly, the judges awarded the print a 91 and a Sunset Print Award.
“The judges talked a lot about the framing and matting; they seemed to like that quite a bit. The type of work I submit is not the kind of stuff they usually give high marks to when it’s something they don’t understand or seen before. I was pleased they liked enough to give it such a high grade,” says Jasper. “I think the presentation had a lot to do with it, but I also had it printed on a matte paper by Richmond Camera this time and all my prints did much better. It gave it more of a look like a piece of art and helped the texture of the image along as well.”
Icebound Anomaly represents the direction Jasper’s photography is headed. Though his primary business is portraiture, his passion is thought-provoking fine-art photography that blurs the line between photography and fine art.
For Icebound Anomaly, Jasper used a Lumix Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera to capture limbs and grass trapped in the ice of a nearby pond. After taking several shots the magic happens when he combines everything.
“I’ll layer the files, reverse them, put one on top of the other, and go back and forth until something good happens. I do a million and a half things; there’s a lot of layering and layer masking going on,” explains Jasper. “I want the viewer to be able to look at this image for more than just the surface and think about what’s going on. The judges thought it was a well-executed print and the presentation was exquisite. One of the judges couldn’t buy into it because he just couldn’t figure out what it was. Finally, the other judges pointed out the title. It says it’s an anomaly; you’re not supposed to know what it is. It came up three times, and the final score was a 91.”
Jasper got into photography after his return from Vietnam in 1971, landing a job with a portrait studio. He travelled all over the country shooting portraits and went to school for photography, but art struck his fancy and he ended up with a Master’s in painting and printmaking.
“A lot of my photography now is different because I come from a painting background and not a technical background. Portraits are still my bread and butter, but I’m trying to figure out how to make my photographs more like art prints and I think I’m getting closer with the prints I’m making. Eventually I’d like to do more design and textile work,” says Jasper.