Photographer of the Month: Jaycee Crawford
Jaycee Crawford is a creative portrait/freelance photographer based out of New York. That's a fair bit of awesome, but he's so much more than that. He is a person with a passion for life, and a tenacious curiosity and wonder. He looks, sees, and unleashes that story whether he aims his lens at people, or, his less known subject, landscapes. From Australia, to America, to points in-between and beyond, he brings the sum of his journey so far to his mindset and footsteps. Tis my great honour, to share with you today, the works and thoughts of Mr. Jaycee Crawford.
How did you get interested in photography?
My first camera was an unexpected present from a friend while abroad in Australia -- a well used Pentax K-1000. I was 20 at the time and was avidly using disposable ‘box’ cameras for travel and taking photos of my friends and the places I visited. Having a real SLR took my budding interest up several notches.
When I returned to the States I enrolled in some photography courses to take advantage of owning the Pentax. However, as it broke not long after I had returned to the States, it was the ensuing 6 months of using a Holga camera that really opened my eyes to the magic of capturing light. The unique light leaks and the strange, magical ambience within the final Holga images were unlike any of the SLR images I had seen – and it got me hooked.
Jokulsarlon Glacial Runoff
Jokulsarlon Glacial Glitterati
How long have you been a photographer?
All my life I have drawn, painted, and sketched. In university I studied oil painting as well as printmaking, creative writing, music, and photography. However it was my experiences with film from 1995 and 1996, my final years of college, when I began to see the world radically differently and the act of capturing light within a box became something of a personal obsession.
After university, for lack of money and time, I broke from photography and started working in the corporate world. Through the intervening years I heard and read things about the invention of digital cameras but it wasn’t until 2007 when the quality of the digital camera, as well as the all-around affordability, became a reality for me. It was like discovering a previous life that had gone missing and I quickly picked it back up again. Since then it has been a solid 7 years of digital camera work.
Vagnsstadir Morning Glory
What is your favorite place to photograph? Or subject?
Unbeknownst to most people, my favorite subject matter is landscape. Those that have gotten to know me over the last 5 years would probably guess it was portraiture, as it has been my focus for so many recent years. However landscape is firmly my favorite - it lifts my spirits like nothing else. Much of the rush is the reality of being in a foreign, exotic place and enjoying the exchange of energies and the newness of the surroundings – but just as exciting is the hunt for the compositions that I will eventually capture and bring home to tell my visual ‘tales’.
Of course it isn’t easy financially to travel frequently, so on an everyday basis portraiture suits well, gets me work, keeps me creatively distracted -- and truthfully I do really enjoy the challenges of bringing out my subject’s character in front of the camera. It's a ‘two sides of the same coin’ type of thang: evocative portraiture for the everyday reality, and foreign landscape travel once or twice a year to rev up the inspiration and get off the grid.
How can photographers help change/impact the world, while they are traveling?
In my experience, people everywhere have heard stories about America, some good, many bad, negative, or at least questionable. I find that they are quite often eager to discuss their theories, opinions, and questions with travelers - as well as test their English. I find the social exchange of mixing freely with the locals and speaking from the heart regarding issues they have questions about is the only way to begin to break down the barriers, and so often the misunderstandings, between people and cultures. My advice is to be open and sincere, aim to understand what the world looks like from the local perspective, and speak to those truths. Nothing goes further than being friendly and interested in the local people and the local culture. An honest appreciation can boost you into becoming an honored insider very quickly. That is when the real fun begins!
Jokulsarlon Diamonds of Ice
Are there rules in other countries people need to be aware of about who or what you can or cannot shoot?
When in doubt, always ask permission. It can be easy to think that something is exotic and therefore should be photographed – however it is just as easy to offend with that sort of logic. In my visits to the Eskimo / Inuit in the Alaskan Arctic Circle, as well as my visits with the Bedouins in Jordan, I made sure to ask permission before taking portraits of people as well as before photographing any cultural events. I made sure to travel with a local and have them show me around so I wouldn’t be in danger of trespassing or wandering mistakenly into areas that were off-limits to foreigners. In all my travels, I have never been told not to photograph something. In asking permission, and showing my interest, I am usually led to locations and events of much greater significance – the kind of things I would never have known to ask about experiencing. Being an interested outsider is awesome – and locals may very well put on a unique show in honor of your presence!
Diamond beach trifecta
Any photography tips you want to share?
Experiment like crazy. Photography, like all the arts, does not exist solely between certain boundaries. Take a few courses, both in photography as well as art history, and learn the basics and the general rules – then try your best to break all the rules as often as possible, while still adhering to your creative inspirations. Mess with lighting, timing, composition, POV (point of view). Mess around with subject matter and post processing. Today there are so many people interested in photography; however, so many of them only ‘color timidly within the lines’. Force yourself to break away from the pack and try to create images that are unique and unlike your past images or anyone else’s. Photography as a medium is so newly flexible with all the software that is out there to use – don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty. Your experiments might often come to naught, but the lessons that come from the act of experimentation are simply invaluable. They are some of the best lessons that exist.
Svinafellsjokull Boulders and Blue Ice
Svinafellsjokull Arctic Blues
Skogafoss Wall of Water
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
Open yourself up to life – take more risks! Spend a lot of time alone, give away a majority of your material belongings, question everything, work part-time, never stop learning, travel the globe freely. Time alone to think over personal ideas and world issues, and experiences such as international travel, do wonders for the elevation of spirit and the mind. Leave the pack, learn to stand on your own two feet – read insanely, but have your own opinions and think your own thoughts. It’s the only true way to live – and to really ‘see’ with your eyes wide open. The silver lining is thus: if you can accurately see it, it can probably be photographed with the camera and shared along with your other personal experiences with everyone on the planet! A creative and endless loop of learning and experiencing, traveling and sharing -- the life of a wandering educator.
You can find more of Jaycee's work at:
Jordan Oram is the Photography Editor for Wandering Educators.
He has a passion for encouraging and empowering others to realize the
combinations of their unique passions and strengths. In April of 2012,
with $250 to his name, he travelled more than 10,000 km, over 8 months,
across Canada and back, to encourage people to rock out their
awesomeness. Find him at www.maplemusketeer.com
All photos courtesy and copyright Jaycee Crawford