Philosophy and Photography: An Artist's Education at King's


NEW YORK– King's student Jesse Kruger ('15) combines the knowledge he’s gathered at King’s with New York City in order to pursue his love of photography. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Kruger never expected to end up in New York.

“Looking back, I didn’t even want to go to college,” Kruger said.  “There’s no point in going to school to study photography.”

But Kruger realized that a degree is important, not necessarily for his craft, but for his mind.

Eventually, he chose King’s because he likes "the mission and the idea of training your mind as well as the promise that you will be a better person no matter what field you go into.”

Six years ago, Kruger’s family took a road trip north to Oregon and dropped his brother off at college. Kruger wanted to capture the moment somehow so he bought a cheap camera and started documenting the places that his family would stop at. Kruger says this is when he first knew that he wanted to be a photographer.

Since uploading those pictures and following photography blogs, Kruger has come a long way.

At first, he shot mostly still life and subjects in nature. While helping shoot a series of headshots for a local actress, however, Kruger became more familiar with lighting and fell in love with portraits.

Now, Kruger says he “loves working with people because they tell stories through their expressions.”

Kruger finds while it is easier to make a living out of photography in New York than Phoenix, it is also harder to stand out.

“There are so many hundreds of photographers [in the city]," Kruger said. "It makes the career more rewarding, but also more challenging to get my foot in the door."

From Central Park to the Williamsburg waterfront, Kruger loves shooting in the city.

“You become so jaded to the beauty at home,” Kruger said. “Here, everything remains so fresh even as I continue living in the city.”

Kruger loves being surrounded by talented people who have ideas and being able to collaborate with artists that he could not back home.

This is one of the reasons Kruger chose not to attend photography school in Arizona.

“The people that are teaching there were professionals at one time 20 years ago," Kruger said. "It doesn’t seem wise to me to learn from someone who’s not on the cutting edge."

With his first semester under the belt, Kruger now finds it easier to locate clients. Last semester, he would request jobs online and submit portfolios. But now, Kruger has word-of-mouth referrals. People that hired Kruger for their engagement pictures now want him for their wedding.

“It really reaffirms you as an artist,” Kruger said. “It's good knowing that people want to work with you and having clients return.”

Kruger finds that his studies at King’s are a nice supplement to his career. “My MCA major isn’t helping me get photography jobs, but that’s not why I came. I came for an education.”

For Kruger, MCA is about studying the influence of art and learning about the big ideas behind it. He appreciates learning the timeless principles behind art that artists across countries have studied (i.e. philosophy and religion).

Whether reading the classics or learning about objective beauty and truth, King’s had what Kruger was looking for.

“I chose King’s because I understand the mindset here,” Kruger said.  “King’s will train your mind. The rest is up to you.”