Jake Weisz is a Sydney based creative, who has worn many hats and has seen himself work from one medium to another. From acting when he was younger to working in the theatre as he got older, from singing and now film-making and directing and all things behind the scenes.
Photography for Jake all started in 2010 when he went on a trip to South America. He purchased a camera and for three months he took pictures that people really started to admire, and from there he began to further explore the medium of photography.
‘I am inspired by so many different things, by the surreal and the romance, travel and seeing different places and exploring different things. To be engulfed in a situation or a place really does inspire me a lot,’ Jake said.
Inspired by surreal artists like Dali and film-makers and directors like Tarsem Singh, Guillermo Del Toro and Terry Gilliam where storytelling is the main focus accompanied by a strong visual component.
‘The one thing I love about art, film, music, photography and other mediums is taking reality and covering it with a blanket of fantasy. But I also love the idea of keeping it grounded in the real world,’ Jake said.
‘I have always been an old romantic. Someone who is an artist, whether they are an artist because they hate the world and they are trying to get back at the world or back at their own life, there is still a sense of romance and being in love.’
‘You’re actually putting work into creating something based on the real world. That is romantic. I like celebrating that aspect of the creative process, finding that romantic connection between person and place.’
Like many creatives, Jake creates to express himself. To share things with other people, whether that is seen or not, is not really important. It’s just an outlet to take the way he sees the world and to share that with other people. Ultimately, he wants to inspire people and get them to view a certain situation in a different light.
‘What I try and do with my life is to polish the real, not necessarily change it or alter it to a complete fantasy – but to polish and exemplify the beauty that is reality. I like to change the preconceived notions of people and places and inspire them to change their views of beauty and romance,’ Jake said.
Over the last 10 years we have seen this shift in the world where everything has become image based. Words no longer hold the importance that they once had. People want the illustrations, they want the imagery, they want the film rather than the book.
Jake doesn’t have a standard creative process. With every job or project the process changes. Whether he is approached by a client or a drunken night in America Skyping with a friend. One thing is certain, for Jake, it all begins with inspiration and letting creativity flow.
‘I have to sit down and use my inspiration. My favourite photographers are Tim Walker and Eugenio Recuenco and people that have a different point of view and narrative voice within their work,’ Jake said.
‘I hope to be inspired by that and take that and then find my own voice in what they have done and be inspired by them and then it just slowly flows. It’s a collaborative process, it’s not all about me.’
Jake believes that every job, even a personal project there is always a collaboration within the creative process. When you’re being inspired by something or someone there is an element of collaboration in that.
‘If you are only being inspired by yourself then you are going to be living a very sad life. Collaboration brings people together and different creative minds. The beauty in art is working with multiple people and taking different voices and bringing them together in some way,’ Jake said.
A lot of what Jake does features nature and the beauty of nature is a really important aspect of his work. Whether it’s for a fashion campaign, a music video, a short film or commercial, nature always plays a part.
From the Hawksbury River just North of Sydney to the cotton fields of rural Queensland, to wandering apple fields in the Blue Mountains. For Jake it’s all about finding, locating, exploring, hunting, foraging and gathering and being immersed in the world because it inspires more work and different work.
‘I did a photoshoot a year ago in a beautiful Australian forest that has unfortunately undergone a bushfire. There was a beauty to this dark, desolate charcoaled landscape. It wasn’t a bushfire lit by anyone, it was a natural bushfire,’ Jake said.
‘It was still smoking while we were shooting in it. The images are so beautiful and heart breaking because you are seeing nature just play it’s course. There is so much beauty in the way nature does that.’
Jake lived in New York city for a year and a half and sees a beauty in the urban and city landscapes too, because they have been built by humans. His work shows a balance between nature and man-made structures and the relationship between the two.
‘The way nature and man-made structures incorporate, especially after decay and erosion is so important. Nature is my biggest influence if you are going to compare the two but I think the combination of the two is just as powerful,’ Jake said.
For Jake, there is no comparison between men or women but believes they are different species in their own right. When he shoots women he likes to put them in flowing gowns and over the top jewellery and transforms them in these, ‘beautiful creatures’ as he calls them, that are a little foreign to his experience over the years.
With men, not just his personal relationship and chemistry with men, but what he has gone through in life and who he has been involved with over the years both sexually and personally. For Jake, there is a real grit to men, a different aesthetic. ‘When it comes to men, there is a real beauty, the raw masculine in the masculinity, in the forms and shapes, in the natural tones and textures,’ Jake said.
‘There is this power, this chemistry that goes on, this beautiful play of masculine energy that bounces from me and the models that I am working with.’
November of last year, Jake released his book called Reverie, which was to become his first solo exhibition at the Black Eyed Gallery in Darlinghurst. He shot it between 2013 and 2014 while living in New York City.
Through his work, Jake shares a little bit of who he is. His book, Reverie was a reaction to situations that he went through while in NYC. Going through a NYC winter, a hurricane and a break up, the book was a big amalgamation of all that.
‘My book is a little piece of me. It was a very intense part of my life and visually captures everything that I was going through in NYC. It’s kind of like a very melancholic, isolating, sad but also a beautiful interpretation of living there,’ Jake said.
‘A lot of people said it was this beautiful love affair with New York which was not what I was expecting. The work was capturing this whole other sad, internal side of it. But I love that people are getting a whole completely different vibe.’
With the launch of his book, Jake also selected a series of prints from the book that were the most important and iconic to really capture the mood that he was going for to hang on the walls of the gallery.
The exhibition was a real learning curve for Jake, he chose a space that worked both visually and culturally. He chose the playlist to fit the mood and to make the audience experience explicitly what he was going through while in New York.
‘The exhibition also made me re-think how I take criticism, re-think the way I look at it. Expecting something from the audience and their reaction or having any assumptions with your work,’ Jake said.
‘What’s important is living in the moment and doing it for yourself. Who cares about what other people think because you are never going to please everyone. Some people are going to be upset or disgusted, you just have to be okay with that.’
Jake has also been involved in projects where he was the director and hopes to one day create motion major pictures. He has done a commercial for Telstra, he has also directed a music video for Shannon Noll, Crazy Kids and the Cam Neason Band, just to name a few.
For his graduation piece at Coffer university, he created a 30-minute short film that was highly praised. The short film was a dark, suburban re-telling of The Lion King. The film as screened at film festivals with talks of possibly turning it into a feature length movie.
‘We spent three days in an abandoned warehouse in Alexandria and we had lit a bon fire. We had the hyenas as cocaine ridden gangs that were attacking the little boy. It was an interesting and inspiring experience,’ Jake said.
‘Looking back at my work, I don’t look back and think it was terrible. I look back at how far I have come and developed. I look at what I did with that budget, with my friends, with that camera, the setting, the experience.’
Jake has a creative year ahead, keeping busy pursing personal and professional projects. He is working on a short film that will be made next year and also has a second book in the works that will be 10 times bigger than his first book.
‘The second book is about my interpretation of the Australian landscape and its relationship with the Australian masculine identity,’ Jake said.
‘Australia is not like a country that has just one ethnicity or one age, or one look and so I am shooting everywhere and everything. It will be a very long process where one village can completely change in every season.’
If you want to find out more about Jake Weisz and his work or you want to ask him questions or to collaborate you can visit his website www.jakeweiszproductions.com alternatively you can check out his Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook pages he is always happy to help out other friendly creatives.
‘I had a meeting a few weeks ago with an Academy award winning producer who is like one of my idols in Australia, Emile Sherman. They were amazed at my age and what I have done so far,’ Jake said.
‘I don’t understand why age is a thing anymore, we live in a world where I can speak to my friend in New York City, send a job to Canada and be Skyping with Sri-Lanka in the same minute. I don’t understand why age is a thing anymore.’