Photographer of the Month: Paul Jaekel

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jan 26, 2017 / 0 comments

Paul Jaekel has had an interest in photography for many, many years. For a long while, he only took the usual pictures of clouds and nature with his cell phone. Then, in early 2015, he started fully acting on that growing interest by turning it into an amateur hobby. As a lifelong resident of Southeastern Michigan, he began by driving around to places nearby his home. As he ventured, he found places that he never stopped at before. Later, he traveled to places further out from home - towards Detroit and up into the thumb of Michigan. During the holiday season of December 2015, Paul bought himself his first DSLR camera and then began self-taught photography. After spending almost two years seriously building his hobby, he looks toward the future, exploring paths to turn it into a professional career.

I love Paul's work (we met on Instagram!), and am very happy to share it with our Wandering Educators. Take a look at his learning curve - he's shared photos in chronological order, so we can follow along on his journey. 

Sunrise over Lake Huron in Lexington. Photographer Paul Jaekel
This is my first real shot going after a photo. It's a sunrise over Lake Huron in Lexington. I shot this with a cellphone.

Inspiration. Photographer Paul Jaekel
I took this shot as part of a 30-day photography challenge using my cellphone. I called it Inspiration. It was towards the end of the challenge when I took it and looking at that photograph I knew my life was heading in a good direction.

How did you get interested in photography?
For many years when my interest was just growing, I would constantly take pictures while hanging out with friends or family. My friends would get annoyed with me trying to take their picture. Back then, I felt this need to record life around me in photographs. Capturing moments to save forever. Even as a kid in the 90s, I remember always playing around with those disposable cameras. I even won an award in an art contest for photography in my local Campfire Boys & Girls Club.

 Photographer Paul Jaekel
I captured this shot using my Galaxy S5 phone. I just love how the crystal ball flips the background upside-down.

 Photographer Paul Jaekel

MIchigan's Blue Water Bridge, connecting US and Canada.  Photographer Paul Jaekel
This was one of my first shots using my new DSLR camera. It's of the Blue Water Bridge that connects Michigan with Canada.

How long have you been a photographer?
This coming April would be two years since I embraced photography in a more serious manner.

What is your favorite place or thing to photograph?
Photographing cities like Detroit are my favorite. I also equally enjoy shooting long exposures at night like light trails or steel wool. I feel you can get more creative with long exposures.

Lightning strike.  Photographer Paul Jaekel
Ever since I learned how to capture a lightning strike on camera it's been a personal challenge of mine to run outside in a storm to get that perfect shot of a lightning strike. This is as close I've gotten to that dream shot.

Photographer Paul Jaekel

Photographer Paul Jaekel

How can photographers be a part of change in the world?
This is a huge question. I never really stopped to think about it. There are many different ways this can be interpreted. I know personally, photography has changed me. It helped me deal with depression. It has forced me to step out of my comfort zone in a positive way. I've watched other photographers for a while on Instagram and keep being inspired by them to keep at it. I hope someday I'll be able to inspire others with depression to go out and find what it is that they enjoy doing and do it.

Renaissance Center, downtown Detroit.  Photographer Paul Jaekel
The Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit.

This is an outside tunnel connecting two different buildings in downtown Detroit. I love the symmetry of the tunnel. Photographer Paul Jaekel
This is an outside tunnel connecting two different buildings in downtown Detroit. I love the symmetry of the tunnel.

 Photographer Paul Jaekel

Do you have any trips planned for the future, and if so what are you looking forward to?
In the next five years, I plan to visit New York and Chicago. Those two cities are top on my list to go shoot. Locally, in this new year, I plan on driving further out from my hometown to places like Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Flint.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Michigan. Photographer Paul Jaekel
This is the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse.

MIchigan backroads. Photographer Paul Jaekel

Fall leaves, Michigan. Photographer Paul Jaekel

Any photography tips you want to share?
My number one tip is try out the website Find out if other photographers are meeting up in your area and go shoot with them. I found that I learned the most from other photographers and it's great meeting other people who share your interest in photography. It's also very fun, too!

Detroit skyline, sunset. Photographer Paul Jaekel
A beautiful sunset over the Detroit skyline.

Michigan architecture. Photographer Paul Jaekel

Architectural detail. Photographer Paul Jaekel

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
You don't need an expensive camera right now to start shooting photography today. A lot of the newer phones released in the last couple of years have a pretty decent camera on them. I first started out with my Samsung Galaxy S5. I highly recommend the app Camera FV-5 if you have Android. It allows you to shoot long exposures with your phone. There are a few photographs that I've taken with that phone that I have yet to achieve the same results using my Canon 60D. So grab your phone and get outside!

Steel Wool photography. Photographer Paul Jaekel
This is steel wool photography. I truly love the creative side of long exposure.

Fourth of July fireworks in Marysville, MI. Photographer Paul Jaekel
Fourth of July fireworks in Marysville, MI.

Michigan fall.  Photographer Paul Jaekel


Find Paul online:



All photos courtesy and copyright Paul Jaekel