More than a decade ago, Jason Wilson decided to fill the empty space above his couch with photographs from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. After a month of perusing art galleries, he came up short, frustrated that what he saw didn't quite match what he'd already conjured up in his mind. So, he borrowed his father's camera and hit the streets in an effort to capture the photos on his own.
A few months later, after Jason's photos had assumed their rightful space above his couch, a friend encouraged him to shoot more photos and sell them at art shows and similar events. So he took his friend's advice, and today his body of artwork has grown to more than 2,500 black-and-white photographic images featuring a lengthy list of prominent and second-tier cities in America and abroad.
During the early years, Jason sold his artwork at the popular North Market in Columbus, but as time went on, it became increasingly clear that he needed a space to call his own. After a five year stint with a gallery in German Village, he eventually had to move to a larger location in Grove City that serves as an office, work space and showroom for his work.
Jason developed his love for cities-at-night at an early age. When Jason was still quite young, his father traveled the country as a photographer, hired to shoot photos at corporate golf outings at some of the best golf courses in the country. As the oldest child of three, Jason frequently accompanied his father on these trips. When the day's work was done, they were allowed to play the day's course until nightfall. Their trips back to the downtown hotels were often well after sunset.
During those drives into the city, Jason was mesmerized by the city lights and tall buildings. He and his father didn't know it at the time, but those early experiences laid the foundation for Jason's future and the high-contrast style that defines his photographs. "As a photographer, I love the dark, night skies against the bright lights or brightly lit structures in our complex cities," Jason said.
Today, Jason remains true to that style with images that are black and white rather than shades of gray or what he likes to call "gray and white". The walls of his showroom are adorned with larger-than-life images of nighttime cityscapes. But Jason is committed to shooting more than just the bright lights of a city. He walks away from every project with a photographic story that not only captures how the city looks, but one that also includes who lives there and how those people live. He believes that capturing the culture of the city is equally important—if not more important—than capturing a beautiful nighttime skyline.
In an effort to appeal to a wide range of people in all walks of life, Jason takes his photography beyond simply shooting what is expected. "I shoot photos of New York City for people who live in Kansas City—and for people who live in New York City," he said. While Jason has several popular photos that typify each city, locals who know the city and want more than the standard skyline photo are drawn to his extraordinary photos of lesser known neighborhoods, landmarks and local mainstays.
Today, Jason continues to grow the collection by traveling to new cities. As a lover of maps, he carefully plans each trip by plotting out the locations for his shoots long before his plane leaves the runway. It's hard work, but it's work that he loves. And as he quickly points out, you can't ask for more than that.