Who the Hell is JP Denk? I’m a photographer, writer, compliance guru, history fan… and occasional bon vivant. Friends call me Jim. I was born in New Jersey, but Houston is home. I’ve spent three decades balancing a career in higher education with outside creative pursuits. I was almost cool for 12 minutes in the 1990s, as singer for the Houston-based band, Phyneas Gauge.
Somewhere in Scotland, I discovered a passion for photography, whisky, travel, and whisky and whisky. Armed with 900 rolls of film, imperceptible skills and the energy of a feral kitten, I shot every castle, mountain and street lamp from every possible angle, thrice. Ah! The joy of filling binders and binders with crummy photos. And of course, I saved every negative, because you never know which magical snapshot will be “the one.”
Couldn’t have envisioned it then, but those negatives eventually became the focus of a new creative direction. No longer viewing photographic media only as a means to an end, I’ve begun to rescue and photograph old negatives, glass slides and other source material, and then rework those digital files into something new.
Aside from my own negatives, most items are acquired in bulk from garage sales, estate sales and online auctions. Some are from personal collections, passed down or lost, and finally rediscovered in someone’s basement. Almost all are damaged and many have unusual content (kinda like me).
I’m fascinated by the history—and frequently, mystery—of this stuff, much of which is more than 100 years old. In fact, it’s pretty amazing this antique glass and film has survived at all. I often don’t know why certain slides were made, or where a given negative originated. Sometimes, I have no idea what or who I’m looking at. But whenever possible, I identify and credit the original source.
I always will enjoy landscape, travel and architectural photography. But these days, I‘m most inspired when re-interpreting moldy photographic material and giving new life to weird images that have been forgotten for decades.