Interview with Instagram Legend: jasonmpeterson Part 1

Jasonpeterson portraits

Jason M. Peterson
IG Name: @jasonmpeterson
810 Photos
503 Followings
Follow me into the dark. 100%iphone. Chief creative officer @Havas

Jason Peterson is a dark knight. His Instagram feed is a vision of Chicago in almost total black and white. Where most users struggle for defined and clean black and whites, Jason excels in this forum. Influenced by photographers of old, he’s molded an editing process that is sharp in clarity and alluring in contrast. His blacks are crushed, his whites bright, and his greys are smooth. He’s a monochromatic master. The subjects of these spellbinding BW stories are almost completely strangers. This makes his images much more difficult to capture — wouldn’t it be nice if all strangers would take direction from all us Instagramers –, and tell more honest and deep life tales. Jason’s subtle strong suit is his powerful ability to compose his images. Composition can be a difficult beast to tame, but Jason makes it seem easy. Negative space is used effortlessly, the right number of trees seem to appear in his pictures, and his frenetic and fast moving subjects always flow nicely in his images. His arsenal is heavy and serious. His images breed a cold and mysterious fantasy, with faceless figures who commit daily acts that seem more profound than reality actually permits. He’s an artist, even if he refutes it. This is @jasonmpeterson, and he’s an instagram legend.


When did you decide to challenge yourself to only edit in monochrome? Has that been a challenge?

I actually do shoot a color shot every now, just to mix it up. I have always had a love of classic black and white photography. I am a bit of a photo historian I am influenced by Harry Callahan, Ray Metzker, Bresson and fashion shooters like John Cowan.

You’re possibly the greatest black and white artist IG has, so share a few tips on how to achieve better B/W’s.

Well thank you. I actually think @mr007 is better than me! One tip might be: I actually don’t do true B/W. Everything is actually color desaturated 90-98%. I have always found 4 color b/w to be much richer and gives you darker blacks.


How often are your subjects strangers? Have you ever had an experience where you got caught taking someone’s photograph.

99% of the time they are strangers. I spend a lot of the time waiting for a person to walk into the right spot, or more likely for people to clear the frame. I love showing urban scale vs human size. I am 6’5 with a shaved head, I think most of the time people are too freaked out to say anything about me shooting them. And if they do I just smile.

Could you divulge a little bit of the story behind your Charlie Brown silhouette and the cowtown skateboarder. The minimalism in those images is too good.

This is a shot of my son @fordjpeterson skating in Arizona. It’s actually pretty simple. The sun is backlighting him and reflecting off the white smooth concrete. I cropped the fence of the park out and pushed the contrast to 100% and the brightness up. I love curves in the app filterstorm.


What’s the laziest subject to shoot? Or what’s the easiest subject to shoot that produces an interesting photograph?

Well if I am short on a shot to post I can always get something good from the alleys in downtown Chicago. I love the canyon like scale of the buildings and its easy to find people creepin around in the dark.

Will you ever shoot in color?

Yes. I would say every 15th shot I throw on in.

Would you rather see in black & white the rest of your life or only be allowed to wear black

Oh I pretty much only wear black anyway. So I would stick with that!


IG Questions:

Tell us about yourself.

I am 42 years old, married(@angieaguilerie) with two amazing kids. I run Havas Worldwide, a 500 person advertising and marketing company in downtown Chicago. I moved to Chicago from NYC where I was most recently the creative director of JayZ’s marketing company Translation.

How long have you been on Instagram?

1 year in November.


How many times a day do you post on instagram?

1-2 times a day.

How are you inspired?

I would say mainly by music. All of my photos are taken wondering around the city listening to music, looking for things to happen.


What do you love most about instagram?

I love the community and the creativity. I struggled to make twitter work for me in a natural way. Instagram is so natural for me. My job is crazy and hectic, disappearing and shooting/editing photos for IG is the best white noise therapy for me.

How has IG changed your daily life?

I have always taken photos so that hasn’t changed. I think posting and editing is the only real difference. I have a very addictive personality so if I do something I am ALL in. IG is no different.


What do you take pictures of?

Urban landscape with human figures. I take most of my photos riding my bike to and from work.

How would you describe your style as an IG photographer/artist?

I don’t consider myself a photographer let alone an artist. I’m just an art director with an I phone.


Who are some of your favorite instagramers?

@samiswell, @ryanpostel, @13thwitness, @ayanah, @littlecoal@macokiwi to name a few. Check out who I follow for the whole list.

How could instagram improve?

I would love if you could zoom in on photos. Also a more curated pop page would be nice. I think instagram is awesome. But some of the smaller upstarts like Eyeem, Tadaa and Starmatic have some pretty cool features/POV’s


Is there an important photo tool to you that you have yet to see in an app?

I would love if #tags had more function. Would be cool if the creator of the tag could control it.

What are your 5 favorite photo apps?

Snapseed, Filterstorm and Luminance are the only once I currently use. I used to LOVE High-con pro until they messed it up last update.

What are your feelings on hashtags?

Hashtags are fine. And pretty important if you are just starting out. I love curated contests and hate crowd voted contests ( mainly because I find reposting and vote grubbing to be corny)


How do you choose those you follow?

I follow real life friends and people who actively post awesome photos.

What do you attribute your follower success to? How have you benefited from IG?

Josh Johnson. JJ is amazing and featured me early on. I love the community he has going. I also like a shit load of photos to show support and those people tend to come check out my feed. Not really benefited, but in my business social media is EVERYTHING. I tell all my employees and clients “if you cant do it for yourself how can you succeed at social media for brands.


Do you have any other work we can see? Do you want to say anything else?

My some of my commercials are on my youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Jasonxxxpeterson

Always be nice.

What do you do to pay the bills?

I create advertising and marketing for major brands.


How do you spend your leisure time?

With my family and working out.

What musicians speak to you?

Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins, Jay Z.


Share a happy moment from your childhood.

When I was 8 years old my mom and I waited 3 hrs in a parking lot to meet Evil Kenivel. He carried a cane with a diamond tip.

Give us your 6-word memoir.

Everything matters.



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  1. axlif says:

    That’s awesome..l

  2. Viviana says:

    His gallery is amazing! Such a pleasure to look at.

  3. One of the most awesome artist on IG, great to finally get to know a little more about Jason

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