Ken Jessen

Using a 4 x 5 camera was something that interested me for years, but for one reason or another, I kept putting it off.  That changed in 2009 when I broke my neck.  It was a severe fracture and I was fortunate not to have been paralyzed or killed. The recovery took over a year, including three months in a halo, and three more months in a rigid C-collar. The experience gave me a lot of time to think, and drove home the point that if you have something you want to do in life, you better start doing it.  Accordingly, I purchased my first used 4 x 5 camera while still wearing my C-collar.

Everything I see though the camera is upside and backwards.  Somehow I think that is fitting.  In a world that is speeding up, I am slowing down.  Photography is most fulfilling for me when it requires a strong physical commitment.  That might mean carrying a pack, dealing with extreme cold, staying out in the field for weeks, or shoveling snow to uncover lake ice.  Photography also takes a lot of patience.  I will wait hours or days for just the right light, for the wind to die down.  Many days I am out all day and take not a single photograph.  There is no failure in that.  To be out in a beautiful place, searching for just the right image, makes for a fine day.  Taking a good photograph is just frosting on the cake.

I am fortunate to have a job that takes me to interesting places.  For part of most years, I am managing or working in remote science camps in Alaska or Greenland. I've also had the opportunity to drill ice cores in Antarctica and work on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean on science-related projects. Prior to this, I worked numerous seasons in Alaska's Brooks Range at fly-in wilderness lodges.  My interest in Polar Regions led me to get a Master's Degree in Polar Studies at Scott Polar Research Institute  in England in 2001.  When not working or traveling, I live in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where I do all of my printing.


Ken photographing in Iceland with curious horses.