We had the good fortune of connecting with Jacob O’Neal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jacob, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve always been a creative person. I’ve been drawing since I was young. I love writing. I always wanted to make movies. A little over a decade ago I made a couple short films. They looked terrible. I blamed myself for that because I didn’t understand well enough how to compose a shot. That actually caused me to take a break from making any sort of movies for years and focus solely on photography. I decided to teach myself about composition, editing and lighting that way. I don’t feel like I have so much pursued an artist or creative career so much as I needed to allow myself to express these things within me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When I started making short films I had a great stroke of luck with the first one. I met the right people at the right time. Although it’s not a great short film, I learned a lot and made good friends along the way, as well as having it released on an anthology DVD called Death By VHS worldwide. The biggest thing I learned from that was how important it is to be able to articulate your vision to others so they can share in realizing that with you. As for photography, one thing I learned is that you can find beauty anywhere. It’s all about how you capture it that makes it beautiful. What helped me succeed there is my love of music. Let me explain that – I look at photography like jazz. You have to know how to play the instrument, but it’s sometimes the improvisation and the moments between the notes that make it more exciting. And I often like to capture images I think would make for an amazing album cover, something you’d pick and buy without even knowing the musician just because the cover art caught you and wouldn’t let go.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Mesa. One place I love is somewhere I have been going since I was a child – Pizza Mart on Main St. If you want the feel of an old school pizza joint like they had in the 70’s and 80’s, that’s the place. I love exploring places that are closed down and just seeing the haunting beauty of them. The Buckhorn Bath’s Motel in East Mesa is a great place to see. If you don’t mind driving out to around Eloy, AZ, and just exploring, there are so many random old ruins you can find out there. I have used many of them as backdrops for my photography and short films.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I feel like there’s a few. First would be my parents. My mom always encouraged me to march to the beat of my own drum. My dad was a frustrated artist. He was great with a pencil. He had several ideas for novels. But he let life get in the way. Another is the late comic book writer Brian Augustyn, writer of The Flash and Batman: Gotham By Gaslight, amongst other things. I got to know him in his later years and he really inspired me to keep pushing.