Don Jim, a photographer who transcended the world of commercial photography to the visual arts, stands out for his singular attention to transforming everyday objects into works of abstract beauty. Tiny bits of metal imbedded in asphalt streets, tar dripping on rooftops, and paint peeling off of old walls took on a unique life in the images that Don created.
Born in Hawaii, of Chinese American heritage, the young surfer grew up with an eye for abstract form and beauty in the nature around him. After two years in the army during WWII, Don came to Los Angeles to study photography at the Art Center College of Design.
During his professional career Don became recognized for his perfectionism in lighting difficult subject matter especially shiny and reflective surfaces such as glass and chrome. He became a photographer-on-demand in the 1960s music scene, doing album covers for musicians such as Jimmy Cliff, the Byrds, Deep Purple, and many others. His technical mastery also served him well in the era of 3-D photography. He did a majority of the 3-D View Master photographs for major California tourist attractions such as Disneyland and Hearst Castle.
By the time he reached his 50s Don began to apply his technical expertise to a visual arts journey of his own. This website is featuring a selection of images from some of the series of his own personal work, much of which has never been seen by the public.
Don became reclusive as health problems began. He stayed in his Los Feliz, Los Angeles, home creating beautiful black and white prints in his darkroom and working on one last series - that of an opulent female, shot nude from scaffolding he built above her, and lighted to give the effect of her floating in a crinkled, framed landscape of luxuriant fabric.
Don's wife, Margo Jim, is the keeper of the images. She is working to organize, preserve and exhibit Don's lifelong photographic endeavor.
The Private Gallery, accessible through a password, features Muscle Beach images from negatives which have never been printed. The 4x5 negatives are in pristine condition and can yield prints of top quality. See Contact page to reach archive owner for viewing permission.