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Phillip March Jones' 'Pictures Take You Places'

Photographer's latest collection is Poem88 EDITIONS' first publication

Whether he was taking pictures of street signs or of lingering trash and often overlooked spaces, photographer Phillip March Jones' found inspiration for his latest creative venture during recent travels through Europe and the United States. After archiving the photos on Tumblr, Jones compiled them, with the help of Poem88's publishing arm EDITIONS, into Pictures Take You Places. Published earlier this month, the collection of 52 full-color postcards is the first release under EDITIONS, and follows Jones' previously published, Polaroid-based project, Points of Departure, which featured roadside memorials across the country.

Currently, Jones splits his time between Lexington, Ky., as the founder of Institute 193, a nonprofit contemporary art space, and working as the director of the Galerie Christian Berst in New York. Jones spoke to Creative Loafing about staying focused, challenging himself daily, and sharing the strange beauty of the world through photography.

This is Poem 88's first publication on EDITIONS. How did it come about?

Robin Bernat, the gallery owner, is a friend and like-minded soul. We've collaborated on several projects and exhibitions over the past few years in Atlanta and Lexington. ... We both love books, and she really understood the images and what they were about.

Your book, Pictures Take You Places, is composed of images from around the U.S. and Europe. How did the concept come about? Did you challenge yourself to take photographs daily?

Over the past few years, I was forced to travel almost constantly for work and felt that my studio practice was suffering as a result. I challenged myself to take a picture every day as a way to keep my eye active and focused. The daily discipline has additionally forced me to engage with the world in a different way. I feel more attuned to the colors, forms, and lines all around me. I don't even have to look for the pictures anymore; the images now seem to sneak up on me.

You uploaded photos daily to Tumblr before compiling them for a book, correct? How did that influence the project itself? Did you have immediate feedback?

I started uploading the photos to Tumblr from the beginning, purely as a way to organize them. I would never be able to keep track of them on my phone or computer. I'm just not that organized. The social aspect of the project was an added bonus, but the audience is pretty small at this point — mostly friends and family.

Most of the photos are of objects that people normally wouldn't notice. How did you pick your subjects? What drew you to them?

I sort of stumble across things. I also feel that no matter where I am, I seem to take the same pictures: funny signs, unfinished fence projects, bad landscaping, giant farm animals, and confusing natural anomalies. Since I moved to New York, I mostly photograph trash on the street.

How does this book relate to your Polaroid-based project, Points of Departure, from your cross-country travels?

Points of Departure was a very specific and rigid project, both aesthetically and conceptually. The resulting publication was over 200 pages of Polaroids featuring roadside memorials — mostly crosses alongside the road. It was a heavy, thick, hardcover book. This newest project is more fun. People can open the box, spread the postcard images across the table, stack them in different piles, and send them to friends and family. It's about sharing the strange beauty and visual poetry of the world. The psychological weight is a bit lighter too.

Are you still shooting for this project?

Pictures Take You Places is a lifelong project, so it hopefully won't be finished for a long time. I'm starting to paint again, something I haven't done for several years, and working on several other photographic bodies of work. I'll keep you posted.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story featured a photo that is not in Pictures You Take Places.



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