I am so happy to be doing this conversation with Jersey Collective. As a fellow NJ resident, I love our state so much and what it has to offer. How did Jersey Collective come to life?
Thank you so much! I'm happy to be talking to you! Jersey Collective came to life for a few reasons, one of which is definitely the sentiment you're expressing--you love our state and what it has to offer. I do, too. The seeds for what would become Jersey Collective were planted in my mind in winter 2013, when I was going through finals in my first semester of graduate school. It was a really isolating time for me, and one that made me feel really uncreative. I was slogging through reading and writing dry academic papers, and I missed making stuff. My undergraduate degree is in film/video production, I've worked as a freelance photographer for about five years, and I love to write creatively. I was so happy to be in grad school, but I missed having the space for a lot of creative outlets. So I started thinking, between assignments, about what kind of project I could start that would help make this space in my life again. I wanted something collaborative, something that would create a community. I thought about the things I cared about enough to spend this kind of energy on and I kept coming back to New Jersey and how much I enjoyed Instagram. I knew there was a community of New Jersey-ians on the app, and finding them and bringing them all together seemed like a worthwhile venture. I thought we could get these people together, give them a platform to showcase their work, and showcase what makes New Jersey such a great place all at the same time. And so I finally took the plunge in March 2014 and started Jersey Collective. It's been growing really steadily and interesting people doing great photography just keep coming out of the woodwork. It's so great to see.
The Instagram account displays such beautiful work from so many talented photographers around NJ. How does one get involved being part of the collective?
Anyone who wants to participate and is willing to follow our guidelines is welcome to give it a try! We ask that our participants commit to shooting for Jersey Collective for six days (Monday-Saturday) and that during those days they post at 1-4 images a day. The photos have to be taken in New Jersey and with a phone camera. We think sticking to mobile images is fun and evens the playing field for those who don't own professional equipment. And since Instagram was created with the mobile photography intention in mind, we like carrying on the tradition even though it is now possible to import DSLR photos into the app. To get set up with a week, we ask that people email us at email@example.com with their username. Some people choose to write a bit about themselves and what they're likely to shoot during their week, and those are fun emails to read, so I like when people do that!
I read the article on NJMONTHLY.COM, and I totally agree on how the public's perception on NJ can be so strange. I get a lot of outsiders putting us down truly because they never really explored or hung out at some awesome places. When someone gives NJ a bad rap, doesn't that make you feel a certain way? What can you say about NJ to sway one's outlook?
Right?! I don't get it. I went to college in Philadelphia, so I met a lot of people who would be like "gross" or "sorry" when I would say I was from New Jersey. And I would always just look at them with a confused expression until they realized they were being offensive. "I live ten minutes from the beach your family vacations at every summer," is a really great way to get someone to rethink their Jersey-hate. I also have a silver necklace of the outline of our state and I love wearing my Jersey pride whether I'm home or traveling.
One thing I can say, now, is nothing at all. I can just direct people to Jersey Collective and say, "Look at this." I really think that anyone who scrolls through the work that's been posted over the last year will see just how many beautiful places exist in our state. Our contributors have captured frozen-over lakes, Revolutionary-era battlefields, sunsets rising over the Atlantic, and gritty parts of Jersey City. And it's all beautiful and cool and shows how diverse our landscape is. We've got it all and now there's a place anyone can see it captured--and from 50+ different photographers whose work all speaks to the idea that there's stuff worth looking at in New Jersey.
I have to ask, do you do any WEIRD NJ adventures? Are you a fan of the magazine?
I am a huge fan of the magazine. I have every single issue of the magazine and most of the books. I really love what they do for our state and I think they created something really special when they started the magazine. It's so much fun to surround myself with a bunch of issues at once and flip through them, taking in all of the endless weird places that are in our area. I love reading about places I visited as a kid (like Gingerbread Castle, which was never open, but we used to go look at it sometimes) and finding new places to check out. I've definitely gone on adventures to places Weird NJ introduced me to, but not any of the abandoned stuff. You never know what you're getting into by entering a neglected structure, so I'd rather check out their beautiful photographs than venture inside somewhere myself. But I've discovered a lot of cool historic sites and roadside attractions from reading their issues, so I'm grateful to them for providing us such a comprehensive guide to our weird and wonderful state.
Are there any future instameets/events soon?
We have a few tentative plans now that it's spring, but my main focus right now is planning our gallery show, which will be on Saturday, June 6 at Cowerks in Asbury Park. The show will be a celebration of our first year, so it will have one photograph from each week from March 2014-March 2015. It's 53 photographs and 50 artists, so it's going to be a party! We're almost ready to post the official invitations with more about the event, so look for that soon! Once the planning for the show calms down, we'll definitely be pushing more instameets and hopefully some more structured events like workshops and private tours of anywhere that will have us.
Lastly, but I had to ask, do you say sub or hoagie? Pork roll or Taylor ham? Hehe.
Hmmm I don't know if I say sub OR hoagie, really! I usually just say "sandwich" for anything that is on bread. And I say "pork roll" usually, since Taylor Ham is a brand...so unless I'm specifically talking about Taylor Ham, it's all just pork roll at the end of the day. But what does it really matter...it's all delicious!