Celebrated photographer Jesse Kalisher grew up around black-and-white photography. “Color can be misleading,” he says. “If you’re watching a movie and cover your ears to block out the music, what you see on-screen becomes less interesting, less evocative. To me, color is to a photograph what music is to a film.”
Kalisher’s work is in museum collections around the country, including the de Young in San Francisco. Beverly Hills designer Barbara Lazaroff collects Kalisher’s photography and calls his work “exquisite.” Currently based in Carrboro, North Carolina—which the artist describes as “the Venice to Chapel Hill’s Santa Monica”—Kalisher operates his eponymous gallery there with his wife, Helen. For his next project, Kalisher plans on documenting the culture around him. “There’s a lot of history here, and I’d like to capture it before it’s gone in ten to fifteen years,” he confides.
For Kalisher, great photography is a hybrid of artistic elements. “A truly great photograph is a struggle between content and style,” he explains. “If you’re looking at the photograph and you have a reaction to it and you like it, you can’t tell if you like it because of its style, the way it looks, or its content—the story that it’s telling. Those two elements are fighting equally for your attention.”