Jerry Interval was one of the foremost portrait photographers and educators of his time. His unwavering passion for photographic art fueled a professional career that spanned more than 36 years. During this time, Jerry devoted himself to portrait and wedding photography and established a reputation among his peers for his expert studio and natural lighting techniques, becoming one of the most sought-after instructors in the business.
The Early Years
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 10, 1923, Jerry grew up in the Brookline neighborhood of the city. At the age of 17, he moved to Dunkirk, New York, to attend Holy Cross Seminary, an all-male Roman Catholic boarding school that closed in 1968. While at Holy Cross, he studied to be a Passionist priest for a short time and graduated with a degree in psychology before returning to Pittsburgh.
In 1948, at the age of 25, he married Dora, his wife of almost 58 years. The Intervals lived in McKees Rocks and Bellevue, two communities near the city of Pittsburgh, before moving to the suburb of Franklin Park, where they lived for almost 43 years, raising seven children along the way.
Jerry developed an interest in photography in his twenties and pursued it as a hobby for several years, devoting most of his time to learning and perfecting his craft. Influenced by Yousuf Karsh, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jay Stock, Albert Gilbert, Frank Criccio, Don Busath, Duane Sauro, and many other master photographers and artists, Jerry turned professional in 1968.
In 1972, he earned the degrees of master of photography and photographic craftsman from the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). At the time, he was one of the youngest men ever to receive the master and was the only person with that degree between Pittsburgh and Erie. In 1992, he received an associate from the American Society of Photographers (ASP).
Jerrys work mirrors his philosophy that the manipulation of technique based on effective lighting, composition, design elements, storytelling, and viewer psychology is key to producing a photograph that has profound emotional impact. He documented this philosophy in The Psychological Approach to Photographic Design, his associate thesis for the ASP. Although not on display yet, several examples of Jerrys work—including his noted Merry Monks series of portraits—are housed at the Photo Antiquities Museum of Photographic History in Pittsburgh.
While Jerry devoted most of his career to portrait and wedding photography, he did some notable commercial work for corporate film and television productions, including The Presidents Command Performance for Ronald Reagan at Fords Theatre in Washington, D.C., and a television commercial featuring magician Harry Blackstone, Jr. He completed other field assignments for NBC, Chanel, British Airways, and the American Heart Association, and his work has appeared in Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Sports Illustrated, Readers Digest, and Better Homes and Gardens.
A member of Professional Photographers of America (PPA), American Society of Photographers (ASP), Triangle Photographers Association (TPA), and Photographic Society of America (PSA), Jerry lectured at photography conferences and judged numerous photo competitions throughout North America. For more than 20 years, he was an instructor for the Winona International School of Professional Photography in Winona Lake, Indiana, teaching Winona-accredited courses throughout the United States and at the Winona headquarters itself. He also conducted PPA-accredited master photography workshops at his studio in Franklin Park, later labeling that entity the Academy of Photographic Art.
Jerrys lectures and classes covered the mechanics and aesthetics of portraiture, indoor and outdoor lighting, high-key lighting, posing, facial analysis, candid photography, oil and pastel print enhancement, evaluation of competition prints, principles of studio management, marketing, and sales.
The Later Years
Jerrys passion for photography remained strong throughout his life, even after his retirement in 2004. Although his plans to write college-level and professional manuals on portrait photography were never realized, he stayed abreast on the latest photographic techniques and remained active in the photographic community. (He taught his last class—Introduction to Masters Brush Light, Corrective Lighting, and Facial Analysis—on April 3, 2006, for the PPAs Super Monday: Legends series.) He spent the last two years of his life living with Dora in the Pittsburgh suburb of Moon Township. He died on December 4, 2006, at the age of 83 due to complications from heart problems.
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