Juliana Noelle Jumper

artistic & unconventional photography

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Personal | Portraits of My Grandfather 2007 - 2019, Part I & II

When I was 11 years old my grandfather took some less than flattering photos of me one morning. I swore revenge, and what originally was meant to be a game of teasing turned into the longest portrait series I’ve ever shot. Collected below are a few of my favorite portraits of him, taken specifically between 2007 and 2019, although I do have shots that date back further - most of them were taken on a Razr so I’ll spare you that pixelated mess. Part I of this post is the culmination of these images. Part II is the day of his memorial service. This is all still quite fresh and I honestly don’t have a lot to say about it yet. Some days I feel normal and some days I don’t. It’s quite long, but I’ll leave you with the eulogy I delivered at his service:

When I very young my grandmother told me I had my grandad's eyes. Slightly horrified by this notion I asked "You mean he gave them to me?!" While my eyes were in fact my own- as I was so relieved to discover- my grandad did have great influence over my view of the world and finding my way within it.

Growing up, my grandad was an incredibly important figure. Easily the strongest male influence in my life, he took on the rolls of teacher, rescuer, provider, and handyman. He taught me how to change a tire, use a soldering iron, and build a birdhouse. He took me fishing, camping, biking, to dive restaurants, and art museums. He helped me get my first job, find my first car, and moved me into my college dorm.

As a child he inspired curiosity and ambition, and represented a power and intellect I aspired to. He introduced me to hard concepts, showed me places I would have never otherwise discovered, and taught me some very strange vocabulary words - whether I wanted to learn them or not. He was scientific, worldly, and intelligent in the best possible way.

Throughout my life I've learned so much from him, and I know he has left a lasting impact on others as well. Like the principle who expelled him, for bringing a frozen skunk to school, and his mother who begged said principle to let him back in. His grandmother who he showered with ashes after he put newspaper in the furnace to- and I quote- "warm her up." Or my father who he tricked into flying his plane for an hour and a half while he took a nap. My father was not a pilot and when he relayed this story to me he said he didn't know it possible to not blink for an hour and half straight.

I could continue for awhile here. I have an endless archive of family stories detailing his infamous orneriness. But beyond his teasing and at times domineering exterior my grandad was playful -  On a freezing winters day when I was 6 years old I stayed home from school. Being a child of a single, working mother she dropped me off at my grandparents house. I wasn't above playing hooky, and evidently neither was my grandad because he bundled me up and took me to the zoo. He carried me from building to building in the cold showing me animals and displays.

My grandad was adventurous - At 14 he decided to show me the tunnels beneath the city. Only having a idea of how to get in we went down some stairs and ended up walking several city blocks underground. We passed workers, construction blocks, and got stopped by several security guards along the way.

But perhaps most importantly, my grandad was sentimental - When I was 16 he took me on a ride to Pawhuska, OK. A town which he had formerly called home. We ate at a local diner, and drove by old homes of family and friends. All the while he told me stories of the people who lived here or there. Names of those I neither recognized nor cared about, but I remember the prairie.

The striking blue of mid January sky meeting the curvature of miles of yellow earth. That blue looked like his blue; the blue of his eyes and the blue of mine. I remember watching the sea of tallgrass ebb and flow in the breeze, the weathered trees and sporadic bison. How a toothpick hung from between his lips and a classical piece played on the radio. Mozart perhaps, and Tschovisky was his favorite composer- but I always remember it as Beethoven. Like Beethoven my grandfather had a volatile and intimidating exterior. My grandad wasn't always the most approachable person. Beneath this front, whether he would admit it or not, he was a romantic, who composed an adventurous life of meaning and fulfillment.

A trickster, a traveler, a science fair champion, a petroleum engineer, a PC builder, an antique radio restorer, a hero, a father, a friend, a romantic was he.

P A R T I

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P A R T II

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Personal | Happy Trails to You, Til We Meet Again

I've been putting off writing this post for awhile now, but I don't want to drag this out too much longer. I don't typically share personal work, but I shoot my personal life constantly. My mom badgered me as a teen and early twenty-something for taking selfies and photographing old buildings over my family. Well I guess at some point all that got through because I've photographed all of us incessantly ever since. Every get-together I bring my camera, mostly to photograph my grandparents. Having grandparents in their 90s has really made me appreciate what I can capture and preserve. Since Grandma begin losing her memory, since Grandad had his stroke; through every hospital visit or ER run they've endured I've always been prepared to get that fated call. That's why it seems so strange to be reflecting on the one death that I didn't see coming. 

I never really cried over my uncle Terry's passing. I was so shocked by it I never really reacted. I cried early on about his diagnosis, but I never really thought he wouldn't be around. It's only now that I find it creeping up on me in quiet moments; a bite of Chili's queso, a red van, walking through a small town exploring.  All these little things that I never even thought about, memories that I didn't hold dear suddenly precious. 

I volunteered early on to speak at my uncle's funeral. It was important to me that someone speak about him as a person. In the end, there were four speakers. I can't recall word for word all the messages and memories we collectively shared. And so, I leave you with my own small tribute:

Good Afternoon (I say good with that subtle hint of sarcasm I just know Terry would appreciate)

My name is Juliana Jumper, and I am Terry Danner's niece. Being his niece, I had the privilege of knowing him for my entire life, but he was far more than a distant relative as uncles so frequently are. He was a staple throughout my childhood and into adulthood. He attended every birthday party, family dinner, suffered through each school production (sorry, about that), and braved the highways to each graduation, each vacation destination.

Terry was a rock within our small family. I watched him care for my elderly grandparents during my wedding, alongside Pam of course. He fixed things, answered questions (sometimes poorly and with a smart attitude, but you know, he answered.) He had a love of animals and saved more than one of our family pets; my grandparent’s black cat, and a red dog he found on the side of the road. He was a very dutiful person, who provided for his immediate family and those of use beyond it. He was our pair of broad shoulders, our ears that would analyze “this weird noise my car just started making, and do you think you could take a listen?”

Terry was a kidder. Him and my aunt after dates used to sing “Happy Trails” at my mother’s bedroom window in the middle of the night, and he must still be trying to kid her from the great beyond since he requested that song be played today. We had nicknames for each other. He constantly called me a monkey. (and I can assure you Terry, that you are truly the monkey not me! Okay?) But I think what I’ll remember mostly about my uncle is that he was a collector. He’d go through phases of interest, each one bringing with it a new item to examine; typewriters, fans, cameras, the list goes on.

But what will forever have the most profound effect on me was his camera collection.  He showed me how to use a digital camera, let me borrow one of his manual cameras while I studied film photography abroad. He was always interested and inquired about my photography. Today I am a professional photographer, and I would not be without him indulging my curiosity. Letting me examine these objects and showing me how they worked, letting me borrow his equipment, only to have it returned in questionable condition. (Sorry about that too.)

The day of his diagnosis I saw him for a few minutes in the ER shortly after he found out he had cancer, but well before the severity of his circumstance had been realized. If a month is really enough time to realize anything at all. When I saw him that day he told me he wanted me to have his camera collection. He said that even if I didn’t use them that they were beautiful objects and maybe I could use them as decor. And I kind of laughed and said “Thank you” because SCORE, and because it had never once dawned on me that in six weeks time I would be here in front of you all. I laughed because I thought, I knew, that was months if not years down the line.

It was one of the last conversations I had with my uncle, and if I could redo it, if I could go back to that moment I would tell him that of everything he could give me, of all these parts and pieces and precious objects he left behind, that it would never be enough to replace the man he was. That no image I can produce with those cameras, no arrangement of decor; no shutter snapping to capture that phantom image of reality would ever be enough to convey his compassion, his humor, his impact, his life.

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This is the last picture I took of my uncle. It was late March in Pawhuska on my mother's birthday. It was the last normal family meal I recall. We walked the town and the light was perfect. If there had to be a "last"; a last photo, a last good day, I'd say this is a good one. 

Personal | Together at a Drive-In Movie

Titling this post Together at a Drive-In Movie is a little reaching, but we were all together and we were at a drive-in, and there was no way I was going to write this post without referencing Grease's Alone at a Drive-In Movie. Let's be honest though, the real reference I wanted to to make was to Bubble Pop Electric (Google it.), but "Together at a Drive-In Movie" seemed ALOT tamer a title than "Drive-In Movie; Drive-Into Me." Explicit content aside, both songs are about the exact same thing. While there was no movie playing in this instance, no backseat (although I'm really feeling that missed opportunity now), and no PG13 content so to speak, this recent shoot at Boulevard Drive-In was a strange and lovely adventure. 

Emily and TJ were the freaking best models for my one on one mentor-ship with the brilliant Kaley from Kansas. We may have committed some light trespassing to shoot at this location. However, once we were found out, the owner opened up the building to let us explore, and even let us up on the roof! This was a totally refreshing and inspiring experience. It taught me to utilize underrated locations, and challenged my ability to capture movement, playfulness, and light. I can't thank Kaley enough for being such a wonderful guide through this chapter of my creative journey. 

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