What can I say about myself that so many others haven’t?
My full name is John Charles Sykes Jr. I grew up in Heber Springs, Arkansas, a somnolent community about an hour north of Little Rock. Nestled in the Ozark foothills, Heber Springs is insular, a bit dull, but a very beautiful place to grow up.
The seductive beauty sparked my interest in photography and I’ve been attempting to copy the work of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston ever since.
I’ve been in the newspaper business for too many years to mention in polite company. I started when I was 15, shooting basketball games for local newspapers. I was obsessed with photography at that time, spending my days roaming the hills, shooting pictures and my evenings developing film and making prints in my mother’s kitchen.
I eventually ended up working full-time for a paper called the Arkansas Sun during my junior year in high school and stayed there for three years.
I went away to college in Jonesboro, a godforsaken place with a landscape resembling a pool table covered with loose dirt. My early major, philosophy, was simultaneously difficult and seriously lacked employment opportunities. So I switched to a career sure to line my pockets with cash… journalism. I transferred to UALR to continue my journalism training, working in the communications department at the school while attempting to piss off everyone I met.
I left school when a photography position at the Arkansas Democrat became available; further financial motivation came from the arrival of my first child, daughter Sydney. My son John III followed a few years later and my photojournalism career careened onwards. I eventually became chief photographer, responsible for the daily operations of the photo staff, a highly underpaid position throbbing with excitement.
I still work at the newspaper, producing black and white landscape photographs during my free time. I also write humorous essays on an irregular basis; at other times I sweat away at my mouse and keyboard manufacturing digital collages. When neglecting those endeavors I paint, producing somewhat surreal paintings of atomic explosions and fried eggs. I play in a band called Silo 7, pulling bass duties.
I met a remarkable woman about a year ago and we’ve been together ever since… so it’s all good!