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Jensen Hande: #ibelieveinMOCA because art connects us

December 21, 2016 // by Denise M. Reagan

You've probably seen a lot of Jensen Hande's photography but never realized it. Working in his studio at CoRK Art District, he shoots images that appear in ads and magazines around the country. He helped create MOCA Jacksonville's #ibelieveinMOCA campaign and shot all of the portraits. Hande also is a frequent visitor to MOCA's galleries.

ibelieveinMOCA Jensen Hande Works at Desktop
Image courtesy of Denise M. Reagan.
ibelieveinMOCA Jensen Hande Camera
Image courtesy of Denise M. Reagan.
ibelieveinMOCA Jensen Hande Behind Camera
Image courtesy of Denise M. Reagan.

Tell us a little bit about you.

I grew up in Sarasota, Florida, which has a vibrant art scene. I was influenced through my family. Art was always around. My mom was into pottery and crafts. My grandmother is an accomplished watercolorist and painter. I live in Jacksonville now with my talented wife and creative genius 5-year-old son.

What kind of work do you do at Jensen Hande Studios?

We create unique visual content to help corporations, magazines, and companies tell their stories. One day, we will be working with beautiful modern furniture. The next day, we'll be shooting food and portraits for a high-end restaurant's rebrand. This year, we have been doing a lot of product photography for e-commerce.

ibelieveinMOCA Jensen Hande Shoots Calli Marie
Image courtesy of Denise M. Reagan.
ibelieveinMOCA Jensen Hande Behind Laptop
Image courtesy of Denise M. Reagan.
ibelieveinMOCA Jensen Hande Sign
Image courtesy of Denise M. Reagan.

How did you become interested in photography?

I wanted to go to art school, and my parents couldn't get their heads wrapped around how I could make money, and then there was the cost as well.

I decided I would show them! So I took every single art course at our community college. Second semester, I discovered photography. That was it. It was like I found the missing corner piece of a jigsaw puzzle. At the time, I had no idea I was even putting a puzzle together! I started putting the pieces in place, and my journey began. I have been doing photography ever since--twenty years now.

Why were you interested in working on the #ibelieveinMOCA campaign?

When MOCA asked me to collaborate on a new social media campaign, I was all in.

I also have a personal connection to MOCA. My grandmother was one of the founding members of the Jacksonville Fine Arts Society, which took many different forms before it became MOCA. My grandmother often took me to museums when I was a kid. On one visit, she asked me “Jensen, do you know what the secret to life is?” I was pretty keen to hear this because everything my grandmother said was profound. She said, “Find your passion and make a living out of it.” That stuck with me, so I have fond memories of museums. I feel at home at MOCA.

ibelieveinMOCA Jensen Hande Where Magazine
Image courtesy of Jensen Hande.

What are some of your favorite shots for the campaign?

Everyone was fantastic! They dropped everything and made themselves available. I couldn't be more thankful! I can't pick one or two. They all have a story.

Jordan Mixson: The most graceful jumper. I asked him to do it once, and I had the shot. No wonder the guy has a gazillion followers on Instagram as The Sockateur.

Steve Williams: It is always great to see Steve! You wouldn't know it by his social media presence, but the guy isn't fond of having his photo taken. Who is really? This was one of my favorite photos of him. He is a visionary and I see his determination and moxie in this portrait.

Princess Simpson Rashid:A common statement I made to everyone was, “Think about what art means to you and tell me through your eyes.” She is still telling me every time I look at her portrait.

Jenny Parker: I had a blast working with her and the girls. I did have the girls drawing on the floor which is a nice trick to get family and kids in the same spot (free tip for aspiring photographers). Jenny's oldest daughter introduced me to Pokemon Go. I am now both super excited and very confused.

Lisa and Tom Goodrich: This was a more technical shoot. I needed their eyes to be focused on something else, so I had a cardboard deer face attached to a light stand. We all had a good laugh staring at the cardboard deer. 

Calli Marie Webb: She is one of the most positive people you will meet. She bakes amazing cakes, too!  What is not to like?! I told her to give me her best superhero look. She nailed it. We did all this while listening to Chance the Rapper.

ibelieveinMOCA Jensen Hande Prouve Chair
Image courtesy of Jensen Hande.

Why do you think MOCA is important to the community?

Community is defined as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.”

We all live on Earth, and last I checked, we are humans. 

Art surrounds us: The SimpsonsGame of Thrones, smartphones, eating utensils, holiday music, Harry Potter books, coffee makers, The Roar's halftime presentation, Starbucks  cups. How do we feel when we experience these things? My world changed when I saw the original Star Wars. I often say music is the only art form that can actually make a person's body move. I cried when I read The Bridges of Madison County.

Art is magic. Art makes us connect and debate. It feeds our souls and our minds. It keeps us balanced and healthy in this fast world. Art inspires conversation. Art is a reflection of our feelings.

MOCA plays an important role as an outlet for us to have these conversations and debates.

ibelieveinMOCA Jensen Hande Green Monster Helmet
Image courtesy of Jensen Hande.

What are some of your favorite MOCA exhibitions or artworks and why?

Robert Longo's Men in Cities: I have always been drawn to this because of its expressive nature and minimalist aesthetic. It reminds me of a current series of Japanese dads jumping in suits next to their daughters. Check it out.

Confronting the Canvas: Women of Abstraction : I kept walking back to Jill Nathanson's work. Great color palette. Viewing her work felt like a quiet moment or a deep breath. Fran O'Neill's colors and paint strokes are both aggressive and beautiful! Loved it!

The current exhibition Retro-spective: Analog Photography in a Digital World is really exciting. I grew up in the darkroom, so I am familiar with these techniques. Know the rules, then break the rules. That is what this exhibition is about.

Any Project Atrium installation: A must-see.

The new Donald and Maria Cox Collection is impressive! I can't thank them enough for their generosity!

ibelieveinMOCA Jensen Hande Carrots
Image courtesy of Jensen Hande.

#ibelieveinMOCA because …

when I visit MOCA, I feel inspired and ready to tackle anything.

My mind and heart are open to new ideas.

My soul is filled.

I am excited and hyperactive.

My creativity is supercharged.

I believe in MOCA because I can mentally and physically feel it.

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