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Dept of Ideas: Faux Weapons from Photo Gear Hit the Mark

By David Schonauer   Thursday February 16, 2017

Jason Siegel’s arsenal makes you think twice about shooting a picture.

About a year and a half ago, Siegel, a Denver-based lifestyle photographer specializing in the music and apparel industries, thought it would be interesting to create a lay-flat photo of his camera gear displayed in the shape of a gun.

“It turned pretty cool and got lots of great feedback on social media,” he says. Then he started thinking about taking the idea further by creating objects out of photo gear that resembled weaponry. “That’s as far as it got, until a couple of months ago when I was asked by some friends to show some of my photos at a pop-up market they were planning to have in Aspen,” Siegel says. "I told them I really wanted to do my project about the guns and that all I needed was to find someone who had the skills and welding equipment to put these things together. That’s when someone told me about Keith D’Angelo.”

D’Angelo, a Denver-based metal sculptor, listened to Siegel’s ideas and said he could make the objects. “So I just brought him all this old gear and we went to work,” Siegel says.

The result is an art project Siegel calls “Shoot Portraits, Not People,” a collection of four elaborately constructed assault rifles and machine guns made with camera bodies, telephoto lenses, film canisters, flash units and other photo gear.  

The faux weapons are included in the Blk Mkt  pop-up shop and exhibition space this month in Aspen and have been getting considerable attention locally. The work has also presented Siegel with another revenue stream.


The original collection of four gun sculptures has sold out to collectors. Prices for the work ranged from $6,000 to $12,000. Siegel also created a limited-edition photo series featuring the guns.

In the meantime, other collectors have approached him to create custom pieces. He says the sculptures may soon be featured at a contemporary art gallery in “a major city.”

“I can’t say where, because it’s not officially confirmed yet, but it’s about 99-percent certain,” Siegel says. “They want 10 new pieces for the show.”

In addition, Siegel has added to his cache with ancillary military gear, creating a gas mask, grenades, and claymore mines. Below is a behind-the-scenes video he created showing the build of the guns.

The sculptures are meant to draw attention to America’s gun culture, but not everyone sees them that way, and they have caused some controversy. “From 15 feet away these things really look like guns, and some of the people who saw them displayed at the pop-up shop thought we were selling actual assault rifles. We had the Aspen cops called on us,” Siegel says.

“When I’m taking photos, I’m mostly pressing buttons whether it’s behind the camera or behind the computer,” he writes in an artist statement. “This project has allowed me to go beyond my creative borders and create something that has no boundaries and yet is totally unique.”

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