Photographer of the Month: Jordan Oram
The lone cry of a single gull. The lush green of the forest. The spray of the ocean, hitting the rocks. The intrepid stance of a surfer, heading out to catch the waves. Such visualizations bring you to a sense of place. Our photographer of the month, Jordan Oram, is a master of visualization, whether it is a close look at a sand dollar, or a long view of the incredible shorelines of Vancouver Island. Jordan is a nature photographer extraordinaire, able to capture the essence of place in a single photo. Put several of his photos together, as we have here, and you truly feel as if you are there with him - the salty air filling your lungs, the visual feast laid out before you.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Jordan and talk about history, getting in the zone, compassion, photo adventuring, photo tips, and more. Here's what he had to say...
WE: How long have you been a photographer?
JO: I've been a photographer since I was given my first camera, a wind-up disposable, in Grade 5 when we went on a multi-day field trip by train to a pioneer gold rush town named Barkerville. I'd been shipped off with 3 of them and burnt through them all by the halfway point in the trip (even though I was tediously trying to ration the shots, with a few taken of my crush at the time that were hurried and never turned out. The origin of my exploration of blurred motion abstracts?) l I never had a camera of my own until 5 years ago when I was 27. In that in-between time people would hand me their cameras, ask me to shoot things; I was a summer Camp Photographer for a few seasons, and would be lent DSLRs for photoadventures occasionally.
WE: How did you get interested in photography?
JO: Initially it was the capturing the moment. The joy of the act of creation. Then it became the wonder of the challenge of learning to see more truly, to compose and to dream with a lens, and to share that perspective with the world. There is wonder all around and the more people see that, the better off we'll be.
WE: What is your favorite place to photograph? Or subject?
JO: My favourite place to photograph is where I find myself! Not so much a location as a mindset. It's getting in the zone and seeing how the elements can be moved around with my feet and location. I know...again with the perspective thing. Ok. I love rambling the world and seeing around corners. Each moment a new, and never again, opportunity. So my favourite subject is adventure, life, process, where I find myself. I do kind of like nature.
WE: How can photographers help change/impact the world, while they are traveling?
JO: Yes! Perspective and vision! Our world continues to grow smaller as we get more connected. I believe that the flood of visuals and connections made possible by our current level of technology decreases ignorance and promotes compassion. We are learning and seeing that all people share this small world and many more similarities than differences. People want food, shelter, water, hope for their children, and to live. This viewpoint, often found through travel, changes a person into being an active member of humanity. All around the world many photographers partner with NGO's to donate time, skill, and work for promotion of community development initiatives and all sorts of projects. One example of this is Colby Brown's The Giving Lens (thegivinglens.com), which pairs travel, photography education, and development. Oh heck yes.
WE: Are there rules in other countries people need to be aware of about who or what you can or cannot shoot?
JO: Yes! Not just rules, but also mannerisms, hand motions, and more. When I was in Guatemala we went to villages where kids had disappeared. It was thought that the foreigners who'd been their prior, with cameras taking pictures, were involved. Now there is a huge regional/national variation of what's ok and what isn't. Speak to your guide, the host of your hostel/hotel, etc. Most people are pretty stoked at the whole thing but you want to use care and respect. When I was in South Africa we were working with many different NGOs, and since there were trusted relationships already established that I was under the auspices of, there was an openness offered to me that wasn't always encountered.
WE: Any photography tips you want to share?
JO: Have fun and feel free to whip out your camera often wherever you find yourself. Think about what the subject of the image is. What motivated you to want to take this picture? If you take a few moments to actually think about your photo it'll vastly improve your work. Simplicity. What in this composition can be gotten rid of? What doesn't add to the photo? Move your feet two steps forward. Often we've left a lot of extra space around the image that isn't necessary. And look. Always look. Where you are right now is exotic and foreign to most of the world. They'll never see it unless you see it. And this moment in time will never happen again. The clouds will blow over, plants will grow, buildings and streets will age, as time moves on. There is a beauty in the moment. When you feel it, when you see it, when you know it. Take that fricking photo.
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
JO: Each of us has vision. Each of us sees a part of the world from a unique angle. We are the sum of similar yet different experiences and that is marvellous. It can be intimidating to share and to put yourself out there. It can be frightening to take that next step. But try it, a little at a time, and you will go places. You will see sights. You will learn and grown and wonder.
I'm constantly humbled by the support and encouragement I receive, and the beauty and vision you all share with me. Photography is a shared passion and although we push the shutter ourself, we grow and share in community. Hop on Google Plus and follow some photographers, ask us questions and we'll try to respond, follow on twitter or fb. Grow and learn. The only thing that stops us from exploring is ourselves.
It's an honour to get to share this journey with all of you.
WE: Thanks so very much, Jordan. I am incredibly impressed with your work - and worldview.
To learn more about Jordan's work:
And you can find him on:
Google Plus: gplus.to/maplemusketeer
All photos courtesy and copyright Jordan Oram