photo essays

An archival collection of photo essays that speak to where I'm from, where I've been, and where I'm headed.

by John Jacobsen

Portland, Maine

Black Coast

The sea startles and amazes me. Whenever I stand on the beach and look out to the horizon, I imagine what lies beneath the waves and what lies beyond the horizon. Geographically speaking, I suppose the United Kingdom would be the first thing I’d swim to if I set out swimming in a straight line from here. A boat would be better; that water is frigid. Plus there are sharks.

Ogunquit, Maine

Ogunquit Coastline

Bloomfield, Indiana

Bloomfield Cows

Driving out to the country in Indiana doesn’t take long. That’s what makes life in the midwest so rich. Fresh air, farm-to-table dining and sincere concern over what happens locally– that’s what brings people together. One fall day my friend Brian and I drove out on a photo tour, snapping shots of bridges, cornfields, railroad tracks and the brilliant fall foliage. That happened in 2006, and set the tone for my appreciation of my surroundings from then on. I’ll never forget that day.

Paris, France

Parisian Hipster

I love this picture. Every object in the frame works together to create this urban vibe captured on a side street in Paris. To the right is an ultra-hip record shop where presumably, this dude is headed as he struts by, fixing his collar. Each of the bikes out front seem to line up in chorus, like an audience.

Nikki Beach

South Beach, Florida

Steeples and Cables

San Francisco, California

Farmer's Market I

Dallas, Texas

Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Chandelier

Bloomington, Indiana

Mountain Lake

Dillon, Colorado

Huatulco, Mexico

Bay of Las Crucesitas

Bloomington, Indiana

Outside the Moose

This is the parking lot for the best little ice cream stand in America: The Chocolate Moose. People usually arrive by foot or bike, and stay a while after ordering. In small town Indiana–that same place John Melloncamp sings about, this is common, novel and refreshing as an outsider looking in. It’s a slice of real life, unfettered, uncluttered and unmanufactured.

Beggar

San Francisco, California

Ninja

Boulder, Colorado

Rancher

Dallas, Texas

Diner

Paris, France

Riders

South Beach, Florida

Riderless

San Francisco, California

Bloomington, Indiana

Lee's Karate

Bloomington, Indiana

KP Radio

Downtown Bloomington is home to the most picturesque courthouse square known to man. Bulbs of white lights extend from the central courthouse dome in concentric vectors towards fastening points surrounding the square. One of those points is the old KP Radio building, made of limestone, glowing red in the sunset while war memorials remind us of days lost by some, found for others.

Huatulco, Mexico

Night Lights

Lights that hang like this make everything feel perfect. They remind me of Manet and his many paintings of societal Paris during the late 1800’s. They bring about a sense of nostalgia for people. Enjoying the light breeze under these lights, under a cloudless, starry sky near the equator, the wedding reception of one of my closest childhood friends became that much more special.

Bloomington, Indiana

Neighbors

We saw a variety of tenants come and go from this house next door. Mostly college kids, some graduate students, and a family on welfare at one point. Funny story about that last family: they actually broke into our house, leaving everything of value but the jar of change full of pennies kept in the back laundry room. The proof was in the snow; tracks led from our back window to their back door. A week later they were gone, taking the foot traffic of back-door meth-heads with them. It makes for a good story, at least.

Bloomington, Indiana

Corn Harvest

Months before, this feild was a lush green taller than a man, for as far as you could see. The huge stalks swayed in the wind, with gold hanging from every opening, soaking up the last bits of summer sunlight. Today, it’s gone. Beautiful in it’s own right, the transformation reminds us of the neverending cycle of life. Once alive and vibrant, the field must be sacrificed to sustain the the living.

Bikes

Frankfurt, Germany

Chinese Butcher

San Francisco, California

Pecans and Honey

Dallas, Texas

Verboden Toegang

Den Haag, Netherlands

Sunrise Orchard

Bloomington, Indiana

The Modern

Chicago, Illinois

Carlsbad, California

Coaster

When venturing beyond California’s major cities, life slows down considerably. Carlsbad is a really cool, old town that you may or may not expect to find out west. Old buildings house trendy restaurants, breweries, and laid back hotels. The beach features good surfing conditions and smaller crowds than those in San Diego, about an hour south. It’s very walkable, and makes for a nice little getaway. This photo was taken near the historic train station, where the Pacific Coaster strolls by to take people into the cities for work. The train ride is gorgeous, lining the coast the entire ride, you can watch surfers and bikers all the way while passing through small towns and chatting with locals. It’s easy to imagine a good life in Carlsbad, especially now that I’ve seen how easy it is to commute to jobs in the area.

Bloomington, Indiana

Railroad in the Sky

These tracks are still active. The trestle extends for about a mile, rising 500 feet above an enormous cornfield. Remember the eighties movie “Stand By Me”? It’s just like that. The railroad ties have a shoe-size gap between them, so if you find yourself near the middle when a train comes, you better think fast.

Napa Valley, California

Grapes

Ennis, Texas

Bluebonnets

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Gift from Above

Portland, Maine

Hallowed Ground

Cornfield Trestle

Bloomington, Indiana

Delano

South Beach, Florida

Quintessa Vinyards

Napa Valley, California

Caballo

Ennis, Texas

Graffitti

Bloomington, Indiana

Bikes & Graffitti

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bloomington, Indiana

Bike in Snow

Growing up in Texas, I never experienced winter quite like those in the midwest. When you travel north, winter becomes something you can count on. It’s reliably cold; freezing actually. You’ll never wonder whether or not a sweater or jacket will be “too much”. You could probably even plan on having a white Christmas, where down south you might never experience that mythical, sparkling phenomenon. Walking by this church one snowy afternoon, the concept of life and winter in the midwest sunk in: snow doesn’t mean everything is cancelled. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, even if your primary means of transportation is a bicycle. Arriving at your destination after traveling through soft snows and winter winds makes your effort that much more rewarding.

Frankfurt, Germany

Hauptbahnhof

When traveling in Europe, you spend a lot of time in train stations. It’s only fitting that they be monumentally beautiful. Gigantic proportions are offset by intricate details of ornate stonework. Here, the past is always present. That’s the same clock used to keep trains on time during World War II. Built in 1888, these tracks have carried the history of Europe back and forth, gently rocking their riders through conflict and peace.