Jason Gardner was first introduced to New York Writers Coalition through a photography project. From Kingsbridge to Canarsie: reflections of 8 NYC girls was a collaborative effort by young teenage authors to describe their neighborhoods in New York. Through the alternative Urban Academy, project based learning gave the girls time to give tours of their neighborhoods through writing, photographs and interviews. This anthropological lens drew Jason to the project. As the documentary portrait photographer of the girls, he wanted to capture their unique independent spirits.
This is reflective of Jason’s interactive philosophy of photography as visual anthropology. Instead of a distant, objectifying approach, Jason takes the time to understand the behind –the- scenes, cultural context of a given situation. This participant-observer approach leads him into the homes and lives of traditional dancers and citizens. His close attention to authentic detail and story led him to be selected by the Brazilian Consulate to photograph Carnival. He extended the project to find additional meaning through the Diaspora of the tradition, including Trinidad and the Wild Mohican Mardi Gras Indians in his own country, New Orleans.
He feels the revelation of story leads to a fuller understanding across cultures and ultimately leads to a more integrated world. Getting behind the lives of individuals, be they musicians, travelers or business people shows the character of each person in a environmental setting that reflects their societal context. Jason is currently looking for new projects that highlight cultural interaction.