FOCAL POINT surveys the landscape of emerging photographers and selects three talented, driven, and noteworthy artists to highlight each quarter.  Each FOCAL POINT photographer receives mentoring from Crusade for Art to think about their work, their target audience, and how to best engage them.  In this interview series, every FOCAL POINT photographer gets asked the same three questions, and their answers become a jumping off point for the mentorship.

Describe the arc of your photography career so far. (How you got to where you are now, pivotal experiences/accomplishments/ influences, etc.)

Jared Soares, photograph by Justin Gellerson

Jared Soares, photograph by Justin Gellerson

The arc of my career dovetails with my interests outside of photography. It was never the plan to be where I am today, but I’m quite happy. When I was younger the line between documentary and fine art photography was a brick wall. Now that border is porous and nuanced. I’m interested in making photographs about topics and people that I care about and the labels don’t carry the same weight anymore for me.

When I was beginning to make photographs as a student, I was consumed by sports and through working at the college newspaper my attention shifted to news and community issues. I did a couple of internships at smaller newspapers before landing a staff job. Had I been born 10 years earlier, I would have probably stayed on the track of becoming a career newspaper photojournalist. My time at newspapers was more than I could have hoped for, each day served as a learning opportunity, and I was surrounded by talented and generous individuals who mentored me along the way.

Daily assignment photography helped me figure out that I prefer spending time on one topic and working in a series of images instead of hunting for stand-alone ones. Coupled with my interest in pursuing long-­form photography and the downsizing of newspapers, it made sense to leave my staff job and take control of my own future.

I’ve been working independently for the last four years with editorial and commercial clients. It has only been in the past two years that I’ve wandered into the fine art world. In 2012 I attended Review Santa Fe, and it served as an introduction to peers and collaborators. Most of my “accomplishments” or learned lessons can some how be traced back to that portfolio review.

If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like?

The fine art world is another place that allows me to suggest an idea to a different audience. With that said, I’m interested in furthering my practice by creating work that is personal and also relevant to current events. And finding nontraditional places in the communities I’m working in to exhibit the work in order to introduce both outsiders and neighbors to each other.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

I’m fleshing out a new project idea and hope to begin working on it before the end of the year. Along with that, my main focus is to set aside time each week to make more photographs for myself.