We’ve all heard phrases that tend to stick with us for a long time. While walking the streets of Havana as a tourist, one of such Spanish lines — ”Sangre de Una Piedra” — stuck with the photographer James Jackman.
Sangre de Una Piedra literally translates to drawing blood from stones, although it is actually a walking meditation on the fact that you can’t really do so. With this street photography series, James Jackman aims to take us through the lesser known lanes of Havana. Growing up near the most southern tip of America, he tries to understand the character and mood of a culture so diverse and rich that is unknown to most people who visit the region.
Who is James Jackman?
James Jackman is a photographer and gardener based in South-Florida. He holds a BFA in photography from Savannah College of Art and Design. James’ photographic work focuses on stories that highlight the beauty of working with and the ills of working against nature.
How did you get started with photography?
Funnily, I started working with a camera in high school after I learned that photographs could be used to pass a college-level art class. I saw photographs as a way to circumvent the tedious work of drawing. But then, I went on to study photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
After graduating, I did a fair bit of traveling and learnt a lot about the world through image-making. Around that time, tropical agriculture and climate-change caught my interest. A man’s relationship with plants and themes revolving around it have become a major focus for me.
We saw your project Sangre de Una Piedra and found it very interesting. What is it about?
Set in and around the Vedado neighbourhood of Havana, La Sangre de Una Piedra came from a simple understanding of the phrase “you can’t squeeze blood from a stone.” It is a walking meditation on the phrase through the lens of my camera.
Could you tell us about how this project came to life?
This phrase about wrenching-blood-from-rocks popped up in a tourist’s review of Havana. It kind of stuck with me and I gnawed on it while walking around the city taking photographs.
One of my favourite ways of working is allowing the project/concept to reveal itself. Part of that is a determination to keep an open mind and see what there is to see; let the world wash over me and see how it feels, see what sticks.James Jackman
I was absolutely floored by the architecture and usage of colour, something I expected to see in Havana, but not to the degree I ended up seeing.
What really inspired you to create a project like this?
The people of Cuba have shaped many aspects of the City of Miami and the Miami Beach. I think my inspiration came from living in South Florida and being around the culture. It always intrigued me and gave me the idea to create something that speaks of the region. Thus came this project, with multiple thoughts and ideas.
While shooting this series, what were your main learnings?
One important thing I learnt during the making of this series is that tourists don’t like to sweat, especially when on vacation. Visiting a tropical region in the summer is a test of how much you really love the place and want to see it even more. Everybody enjoys visiting Miami during a relatively better time which is winter for this geography. You won’t really see a crowd hanging around these areas in July.
Is there something that you still want to experiment with but haven’t until now?
As I said, the local culture has always attracted me. I would like to do some more projects in and around Miami. One thing on my mind, which is not much of an experiment but a series that highlights the architectural work of Miami. I would like to document it after some more research about specific architects, especially the ones who designed the buildings.
What project are you planning on doing next?
I am continuously working on stories in South Florida. Currently I am working on a project which is exciting and scary. It revolves around the deadliest stretch of the interstate highway – I-95 and its southern 100 miles.
James Jackman is a photographer who enjoys covering stories close to nature and the developments around it. His photographic work also underpins his study of man’s relationship with medicinal and food-producing plants.
To see more of James’ work, visit his Cherrydeck profile or his website, here. For more inspiration on Street Photography, see the Cherrydeck Editors’ Choice Street Photography Edition on our blog, here. ?