Samantha Mittelstaedt, a college student from Ohio, who interviewed Jay to get some advice on becoming a photographer. Here is Samantha’s article from the interview. To view some of Samantha’s work and find out more about her, visit her website at http://www.samanthamphotography.com/
Jay has added new images, yet to be released, to the article. Please enjoy!
As a senior at Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio graduation looms in the near future and questions, doubts, and fears begin to arise. The degree in photography that I have been working towards for the past five years starts becoming real. I think to myself what am I going to do, where am I going to go, what steps am I going to take to get there. In this business that we call photography it’s important to make connections with and get feedback from other photographers. Jay Goodrich was at the top of my list of photographers I wanted to contact.
I discovered Jay’s website a couple of months ago. I connected with Jay’s work immediately. The passion and pride that he takes in his photography shines through instantaneously. I took especially great interest in his landscape and nature photos. The colors, compositions, light, and the emotion captured in each of them is stunning. After seeing his photos I made it a goal to get in touch with him. I wanted to learn about him, his work, and get advice on pursing a career in photography.
Samantha- Could tell me a little bit about how you first began your career as a photographer?
Jay-I did something completely crazy. Two weeks after graduating college, packed my car, and with $1000 moved 1800 miles from my home in New Jersey to Colorado. Colorado has so many beautiful places that it just felt like I needed a camera to record all of these places that I had been visiting. Then a girlfriend, at the time, gave me a book by Art Wolfe entitled “Light on the Land”. I was completely hooked and wanted to create imagery the way that he did. The rest has become history. 16 years later here I am. Formally trained by myself, from reading, watching, and listening to anything to do with photography that I could, can and always will get my hands on.
Samantha- What advice you have for an aspiring photographer? Is there anything that you know now that wish you would have known when you got started?
Jay- Expect to work harder than you have ever imagined. Do not focus on just one outlet, have multiple cards in your pocket. If you shoot a portrait shoot it well, if you shoot a landscape shoot it well, and if you shoot a building shoot it well. Diversify as best you can and still be the best creative, most powerful, photographer that is humanly possible for you.
Samantha- What things would you suggest that a photographer do who is just
Beginning their career?
Jay- Try to be different, experiment, make contact with all those photographers you currently aspire to be, buy a digital camera, preferably the new Canon 5d Mark II and then buy one for me. Just kidding, about the camera thing. Study the work of those before you and then try to change it. Never find complacency, and most importantly shoot what you love, and never listen to any photographer that tells you to give up. Especially, if it is your life long calling and dream.
Samantha- What artists do you admire the most/get the most inspiration from?
Jay- I am now really good friends with Art Wolfe and he has always been a huge inspiration to me. I follow William Neill, Jim Brandenburg, and Frans Lanting. I also study architecture, graphic design, and painters-Jackson Pollock and Picasso are my favorites.
Samantha- What about your work gives you the most satisfaction?
Jay- The most satisfaction comes from others’ reactions to my imagery. Emails like this one, or an excited student from a workshop. Being out in the wilds, often where no other photographers have been, or just a place that is new to me, sitting there listening to the wind, or the ducks, or bees. That is the best part, those simple quiet moments, that I have for myself or with others experiencing nature the same way…it is simply perfection.
Samantha- What about it presents the most challenges?
Jay- What is hardest is the competition, and not the fact that there are very qualified photographers that I have to compete with but the fact that there are very inexperienced photographers with not very strong imagery competing for the same spots. These photographers make it very hard for the rest of us to push our way into the eyes of a saturated market place.
Samantha- What series of photographs on your website are your favorite and/or
what do you enjoy photographing the most?
Jay- I enjoy photographing anything to do with nature. I love the piece and quiet, sitting at a lake’s edge, or in an autumn meadow listening to a soft breeze. Seeing a small glimpse of something or some animal that I have never seen before. It is such an inspiration and rejuvenation.
Samantha- Where are you favorite places to take photos (in the US and abroad)?
Jay- As of right now my favorite place is Alaska. I have been there for various things, wildlife shoots, wilderness trips, heli-skiing, and landscape photography. Some have been on assignment, others for just pure joy, and others to teach people how to shoot images. The place holds such a diversity of ecosystems and climates. I can get lost making images there for the rest of my life and still be content with my work. Nothing beats sitting on the patio at Humpy’s in Anchorage after just arriving, drinking a beer, while basking in the setting sun at 11pm, absolutely surreal. Oh this is about photography…not beer.
I want to go to Africa, South America, Antarctica, and the Himalayas. Oh, and China and Japan.
Samantha- How do you go about selling your photographs (online, art shows, galleries, etc)?
Jay- I market my work pretty extensively through mailers, direct contact, or queries. I follow all leads, and never let anything fall between the cracks. I send out e-mail newsletters, that tell everyone what I am working on now and then, I propose ideas to corresponding new and established clients.
Samantha- How long have you been teaching workshops?
Jay- For about a decade.
Samantha- What is the most memorable and/or favorite workshop that you have ever taught?
Jay- This past fall I taught a private workshop with a client and friend who has been trying to hook up with both my and his schedules for a couple of years now. We traveled all over the state of Colorado and had perfect light on every outing. It was also an incredible learning experience and confidence builder for him. Those successes are why I love to teach workshops. If I can see a client take one better picture or be that much more excited about taking pictures, it is the ultimate achievement for me. Interacting with clients on a one on one level is such an important experience for me too. It drives me creatively and spiritually.
Samantha- Is there anything that I should have asked that I didn’t?
Jay- Just for fun because no one has ever asked…
What’s my sign? Cancer
What kind of music do I listen to? As long as it is full of distortion and lacking a whiny new alternative singer, I will give it a try. Metallica and System of a Down head up my list. And yes I am going to be 39. Although my wife says that I am stuck at 16.
Favorite activities besides photography? Skiing, Skiing, Skiing, mountain biking, flying airplanes, and building stuff.
Favorite movie? Shawshank Redemption. It has yet to be surpassed for me, although there are many in the Jay Goodrich top 100. Anything that has an impact on my life and makes me think that there is more to life than just beer.
My life revolves around a movie or movie line, a Seinfeld episode or quote, and the words of my very dear friend Art Wolfe-”Trust me I am a professional.” If everyone on this planet followed this mantra we would all be in a much better place.
As someone who is about to begin their journey into the “real world” within the next few months, Jay’s advice and personal experiences have helped to make an unknown world more approachable. Jay has shown me that you can be a successful if you are ambitious, hardworking, honest, persistent, eager to learn, and willing to get your name out there. It is encouraging to find someone who is doing what they truly love to do. The art world is extremely competitive place and he has found a way to make it work for him. If there is anyone out there who is an aspiring photographer, a student, or anyone who has been discouraged from following his or her dreams there is a lot to be learned from the way Jay Goodrich lives his life and peruses his career.