James Salzano

New York City

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“Jim’s images are simple & honest, direct & humble. He doesn’t impose himself on his subject, but instead tries to bring out their authentic self. ”
Veteran photographer James Salzano continues to enjoy a long and storied career.  However, it’s a career that almost didn’t come to fruition.  The son of working class Italian American family in Jersey City, Salzano was studying chemistry and pre-med, on his way to becoming a doctor, a dream for his family.  However, his uncle Ed had a part-time job as a photographer, taking pictures of local officials.  Given Jim’s love of chemistry, he was naturally drawn to the darkroom and the process of developing imagery.

After beginning to create his own imagery, Salzano was hooked and took the very daring leap of dropping out of college to pursue his dream of photography.  From his earliest moments as a photographer, Jim understood how important it was to continually create personal work.  He was inspired by Irving Penn’s “Worlds in a Small Room” as well as August Sander’s “Men Without Masks” and of course Richard Avedon.  So he began photographing his family at every opportunity.  At his uncle’s funeral, Jim set up a little studio in the back of the restaurant where the after service dinner was being held.  He wanted to photograph his family at this moment in time.  The images turned out beautifully, and ironically enough, Salzano’s first big commercial break as a photographer came in the form of a job for Xerox because of these images he made of his family.  Thirty years and a wildly successful career later, Jim still understands the vital role that personal work plays in a photographer’s career.

Jim’s images are simple and honest, direct and humble.  He doesn’t impose himself on his subject, but instead tries to bring out their authentic self.  Whether the work is personal or commercial, he strongly believes the image must be honest and authentic if it’s to resonate.  He attributes this belief to his working class upbringing. 

Photography has changed in unprecedented ways during his career, from developing his own film in the darkroom, to the onset of digital photography, to the ubiquitous outlet of social media, but instead of resisting this change, Jim chooses to embrace it.  And in so doing, it’s kept him young and relevant.  For him it’s all about being enthusiastic and invested in the work you do for a client - whether it's one you're meeting for the first time or the one you have always known best - yourself.