Jordan Gale: It Is What It Is
In 2017, we featured the work of Jordan Gale as one of the Honorable Mention nods for the Lenscratch Student Award. I was moved by his work and it has stayed with me over the past two years. Jordan has an innate ability to tell stories, in particular his own–of family, poverty, and drug abuse. His insightful photographs and honest narration of what he has learned from who he was and where he came from is an amazing tribute to a young photographer. His images are dark, jittery, and truthful, perfectly capturing life on the edge.
Jordan has just launced a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a book to be published by Daylight Books. Please consider supporting Jordan to help make his book into a reality.
Jordan Gale is a photographer, and freelance documentarian currently based in Eastern Iowa.
Gale holds a Bachelor’s Degree in photography from The University of Iowa. His work examines
socio-economic issues, human relationships, and the changing spaces in which these concepts
inhabit. He has spent time photographing his home state of Iowa, rural Ireland, and The
Republic of Georgia. His photographs have been exhibited internationally, and recognized by
organizations such as The Alexia Foundation, The Lucie Foundation, and The Eugene Smith
It Is What It Is
A January wind swept through the barren cornfields, picking up loose snow from the morning
storm and drifting onto the black dirt road. The snow whipped in the air, turning the road into a mixture of white and abstracted black from the farmhouse at the end of the horizon. The wind quickly settled and the grey sky divided from mud soaked snow. In Iowa, winter temperatures can dip to below -30 celsius midday. Inside my pickup truck, us five kids huddled together, laughing at our drunken actions from the night before as we drove back into town. Nine years later and a Midwest winter still feels the same. The same bone-shattering cold. The faces are the same too, but frostbitten and tired. A presence of defeat has weathered the bodies more so than the cold.
I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I’ve lived in the Eastern Iowa region my entire life. At 16 I turned to drugs as a way to make money. My friends and I had come up with the plan to sell marijuana so we could smoke and drink on the weekends without spending our personal allowances. This dumb and naive plan evolved into my use and distribution of cocaine and other harder drugs. Like so many of my loved ones, I sought an escape through drugs and alcohol. As I grew older I saw people very close to my heart lose themselves, unable to balance addiction while keeping up with the world around them. Resources became scarce, and dreams were too often left behind due to life circumstances. I was lucky. For some reason I was able to escape the cycle.
It Is What It Is , is a self-reflective series of photographs using experiences shared by those
closest to me in order to confront my distant past and the less than distant past. This series of
images drunkenly stumbles forward, examining my personal balance of drug and alcohol abuse with the relationships and responsibilities of a young adult trying to escape his hometown.
It was through photography that I found a way to explore my relationships, emotions, and the
balancing act that had become harder and harder to pull off. With my practice I aim to tell the
stories closest to my life. Even though I occupy these spaces as a documentarian, my images
are formed from a subjective perspective that is defined by my relationships with the people and place. By using photography in this way, I seek to highlight the frustration, sorrow, and longing that come with balancing such a lifestyle.
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