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Jeff Czum's Photos Are Minimal Magic

Welcome to Hero of the Week, an ongoing series sharing stories from some of the best photographers in the Pexels community.

Freelance creator Jeff Czum creates fantastical worlds out of everyday scenes. There's a very magical feel to Jeff's photos, even though they tend to feature regular places. He's an expert at what he calls "minimal makeovers": removing distraction from a shot to highlight the most important elements.

We reached out to Jeff to find out more about what drives his photography, and he shared how he uses his work to express difficult feelings and find a powerful creative outlet during the strange stressful year that 2020 has been.

Photo af Jeffrey Czum · Vis Photo

Where are you based, and what do you do?

I’m a freelance digital creator from Buffalo, New York currently utilizing my "quarantine time" to make 2020 a little more tolerable. While photography and graphic design isn’t my full time job, it’s something I’ve always been drawn to, and will constantly make time to put myself out there.

I guess I would say it’s one of the only outlets where I allow myself to become completely vulnerable and try to show exactly what’s on my mind.

Pexels: How long have you been taking photos, and how did you get started?

Jeff: When I was 11 years old, my parents bought me a super cheap disposable camera for a trip to the Grand Canyon. I’ll always remember the feeling I had when I got them developed and saw that there was something there and that they actually turned out.

I fell in love immediately with photography and have always found myself going back on and off throughout the years. It wasn’t until the past year or so where I actually developed a serious commitment to photography and graphic design.

What camera gear do you use?

I’m a little all over the place but I try to shoot an even balance between film and digital (Canon EOS 5D Mark IV for digital and a Canon AE-1, Yashica Mat 124G for 35mm and medium format film).

What's your favorite type of photo to shoot, and why?

I will always love shooting analog photography as that’s what started it all for me. There is a sense of patience that goes into it as well as the physical aspect of it all. You really have to plan for the shot, and there’s just something about the look and feel you can’t replicate digitally.

Photo af Jeffrey Czum · Vis Photo

What inspires your photography?

The cliche answer would be "I take inspiration from almost everything around me," but the current state of the world has really been driving me to speak my mind and attempt to create a story through each new piece I create. I find myself pushing my own boundaries with each new photo.

Tell us about a favorite photo on your Pexels profile. Why is it your favorite?

Photo af Jeffrey Czum · Vis Photo

I think I would have to go with this one. This was created right at the start of the Covid lockdown, when I wasn’t going out to shoot as much (for obvious reasons). I chose a photo I took in Paris back in 2018 and gave it a "minimal makeover." The text was added in Photoshop as my way of venting, and it was really the start of a new series that I’ve been working over the past six months.

Who are some other photographers or artists who inspire your work?

There are so many artists that have been using this time as a creative outlet and it’s been really inspiring to see. I love what photographer Tony Kelly has been working on lately. His use of color and story telling is just un-comparable.

Tyler Shields is another photographer that I absolutely love. When it comes to portrait photography, he absolutely kills it.

Photo af Jeffrey Czum · Vis Photo

What is one goal you have for your photography?

As corny as it may sound, I have always felt most comfortable when I’m behind the lens of a camera. I absolutely love how a quick scene can create such a vibrant story for the viewer and if I can ever add to that in any way, I’ll be happy.

Pexels Heroes is our invite-only community of the top photographers on Pexels. Find out more and apply to join here.

Photo af Jeffrey Czum · Vis Photo

Photo af Jeffrey Czum · Vis Photo

Photo af Jeffrey Czum · Vis Photo

Photo af Jeffrey Czum · Vis Photo

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