Jason is a NZIPP Accredited Professional Photographer based in the Wellington region of New Zealand’s North Island.
Hi Jason can you please tell us a bit about yourself…
I am a husband, father, photographer, coach, curious creative who is always working on another creative project.
How long have you been a photographer?
Professionally, 10 years.
But the real photography bug was set in me when affordable digital photography became a thing – my Dad brought home a Sony Mavica digital camera in 2001 with a memory stick that stored 10 photos, and I was into it from there.
I’m a child of the digital times. Shhhhh don’t tell the purists, but I’ve never set foot in a darkroom.
What was your biggest challenge when starting out?
The ‘taste’ paradox explained by Ira Glass: I knew what good photography could look like, but I could see that my photography wasn’t up to this standard.
That gulf – that huge chasm – between what I was trying to achieve and my skills & talents to begin, was frustrating. I knew I had the ability within me, but I needed time and practise and patience to make progress, and those don’t come within months, even years.
That gap still exists — my work still doesn’t match my vision or my potential — but I can see how I’ve grown, and I understand the importance of putting in the reps, clicking that shutter.
What kind of clients make up your client base?
Currently I spend more time mentoring & coaching photographers and creatives to run their business than I do on photography, but when I’m a working photographer, my work is 90% weddings.
My typical wedding client hates wedding photography, hates wedding clichés, is having a personal and unique wedding day, and is adventurous and full of energy. Booze and music feature heavily at my weddings, as do interesting vehicles, clothing choices that are not traditional, and children or animals. Forget the rules, I love working with them all!
How many weddings do you average per year?
These days, a busy season is 8. In our heyday, it was 25, with a maximum of 30.
What makes a good picture stand out from the average?
My favourite quote to describe a good image came from hearing Huy Nguyen critique a portfolio many years ago: “surprise me”.
I’m always looking for — in my images, and within images I appreciate — an element of surprise. Something unexpected, something that doesn’t belong, something that doesn’t make sense. And then, it does.
Elizabeth Gilbert said it eloquently recently when she said that great art should be both surprising, and inevitable: the paradox of “I didn’t see it coming” and “and now I see that’s the only way it could be”. It makes her nervous system say: “I didn’t know that could be, and yes of course”.
I love this. Good images are surprising, and then make sense.
What has been your favourite place/subject to photograph?
I’m a fan of the city, so any chance I get to photograph amongst the urban architecture, I’ll take it. Strong lines, textures, contrasts, grunge, & colours excite me. I love the beach, but I hate photographing them!
My favourite venue is Tarureka Estate in the Wairarapa — it’s been the scene of many of my favourite weddings, favourite couples, including my sister’s beautiful wedding day. That place makes me feel something. Never a bad or boring wedding at Tarureka.
Among the gadgets that you own, Is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought? Why?
My 2nd VW Kombi! 🙂
Hahahaha, actually, I sold that recently, but it wasn’t the smartest purchase I’ve ever made, and definitely lost me more $$$ than almost anything I’ve ever done. However, some important projects and pivotal career moments resulted from ownership of that vehicle, so there’s no regrets.
Why did you join NZIPP?
Community. Community. Community.
I’m lying slightly — I believe I joined to get accredited and win some Iris awards, but generally it was to be a part of something.
The friendships I’ve made through the NZIPP have been some of the most important in my professional career. Without a doubt, one of the smartest things I did.