Sublimating the Everyday: Whimsical Photography by Jacob Mitchell

The Soggy Blanket is an Instagram account that has the style of an evolutionary mosaic. One could almost imagine its creator, American photographer Jacob Mitchell, placing his photos as small pieces of ceramic, to create a set which is as impressive as a whole as are its parts.

Jacob Mitchell became interested in photography at the age of 12 when he asked his parents to give him a camera to imitate the work of National Geographic photographers. Growing in the countryside, he decided to immortalize the surrounding nature, including flowers and animals. It is probably these habits of childhood that have opened the eye of the photographer to the details of everyday life. Later he decided to take a course in photography and retouching in a small local university, alongside students several years his senior.

The young man residing in California walks with his camera turned to the cities, mountains and beaches of the United States. He gives advice to apprentice photographers, summed up in five points: get a camera, walk to a place for the first time, look for something interesting, think about the composition of the subject, try different angles until you find the right one.

This creative method with almost childlike simplicity should not understate the discipline and the joyful ardor to which Jacob Mitchell submits during his photographic wanderings. Among his first inspirations, he quotes Henri Cartier-Bresson and a photo by Charlie Samuels of the professional actor and skater Harold Hunter as a child. Although Jacob Mitchell rarely shoots portraits, his images show this increased attention to detail and the “decisive moment” of the shot, often making the different shots of the photo respond to each other and adding a surreal dimension to the photographs.

The Instagram account functions as a whole entity, an assemblage of pastel colors and odes to little things of ordinary places. These are magnified by a particular setting, a time of day or a ray of sunshine. The photographer is inspired by the advertising culture of the United States and he immortalizes frequently huge billboards that rise one after the other in front of the horizon, especially those left blank. Thanks to this mixture of surrealism and minimalism, Mitchell convinces us to take a look at all the beautiful possibilities that surround us. To contemplate his images, one comes to the conclusion that the extraordinary things are hidden in plain sight among the ordinary.

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