Photographer Jory Vander Galien

Today, I have the special privilege of introducing my friend, Jory Vander Galien. We met about 12 years ago on a trip to Peru. Fun times, but that’s a story for a different day. Jory’s a photographer and his photos are like poetry. Seriously. They are beautiful, and I just had to share them with you guys. So I thought, why not do an interview. 🙂

Welcome Jory, and thank you so much for taking time to do this interview with us. So, who is Jory Vander Galien? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I want to first say thank you Jennette for affording me this opportunity to answer a few questions to tell you a little more about myself. Trying to break into the mind of an artist is hard and once you do, I have heard it said “why did I even try” hehehe. I/we have a very different way of looking at the world. I am so happy to be where I am today in life. I am truly right where God wants me so it is never too late to embrace your artistic side and run with it.

Yes, wow, can you believe it has been 12 years now and you know there were a few significant events that happened during that trip like the 2000 Election, and we all know how that turned out. I remember trying to read the papers there in Peru but my Spanish was so bad then I just couldn’t get a real grip of what was going on here in the States at that time. It was frustrating but yet liberating if you remember. We were so in tuned to our Mission trip that what we deemed important was just an afterthought to the importance of our mission. It was weird, wasn’t it? Probably the most significant thing though that happened on that trip was me meeting my future wife Vanessa in which we will be  celebrating our 10 year Anniversary this Dec 21st.She is a real gem and I credit her with helping me soul search the me that was just waiting to escape. We have two Mini-Dachshunds named Sammy and Oliver who are the joys of our lives but this does not go without saying…kids are in the plans for the very near future =) I think after 10 years of marriage, this is long over due hehehe. Goodness, where does time go huh!!!

Shiprock in Slanting Light

Who is Jory today in 2012, well he is a result of everything disappointing and great, trial and error, and victory accomplishment up to this very moment. Everyday I believe we are shaped and molded into Gods perfect image. All my dreams growing up of being a photographer today, have by the grace of God, become a reality. I feel I have the perfect life living in the most perfect landscape known to man… New Mexico.  I have been to every state in the lower 48 except Maine and have traveled all over Latin America and there is just no place like New Mexico. The high elevation desert and the crystal clear blue sapphire skies and the light…oh man the light here at this elevation is just remarkable. It is almost a cliché here in NM to talk about how amazing the light is but it just is… and if you don’t know what I mean, you just have to come experience it and then you will be transformed forever. I sometimes refer to New Mexico as Gods place for man to get a glimpse of what heaven will be like or a place God is actually before our very eyes preparing as heaven lol, New Mexico is all that, it really is.

Remaining Day

I can relate about the open spaces. I didn’t realize it until I went to Tennessee and felt a little claustrophobic  not being able to see, hemmed in by the sides of the mountains. What’s the story of your art? When did you know that you know this is what you wanted to do? Share your journey with us.

My journey began when I was a young boy beating on pots and pans and old oatmeal containers as my makeshift drum sets. Then I took piano lessons but there was still always an art itching inside of me I just could not seem to tackle if you know what I mean. (I think at that time I was too young to really understand but looking back, that is exactly the anxiety I had in those days) It was not until I started paging through some thick yellow magazines aka National Geographic that really started to make me dream and wonder away from my present state of reality and consciousness really. This is what great mediums of art can do…they take us places, places away from our realities. Almost like out-of-body experiences. (in a non-religious way) Even if it’s just for a few seconds, the escape happened. I began to be completely immersed in the idea of photography and what it means to me.

Growing up in dairy country, Wisconsin (Yes I am a proud Cheesehead LOL), it is not all that scenic (I say this and I truly believe Wisconsin is the most beautiful Midwestern state…sorry Jennette) or most of all, wide-open, a good chunk of the state is very wooded and now I feel very claustrophobic when I am not in a place I can see. I feel cooped up inside, I need my wide-open spaces. Even here in NM, I love going into the mountains, but after a few hours, I am get antsy and I need to get to a place I can see. I love being able to see for a hundred miles, there is something very freeing about that. So when I saw those photographs of big western landscapes, I was just awestruck. I knew I was called to be in those places but I still could not grasp the fact “all that open space, how could that be”? Old Jory speaking to young Jory…”Oh it can be sonny”!!!

Cloudburst-Monument Valley

I even remember for a junior high school assignment where we had to choose a career. It was an easy choice for me, photography. My decision one day in high school to be a photographer was completely solidified when I discovered Ansel Adams. This was a dream I figured would not ever happen as I was soon approaching the end of what I thought was normal…my days of my adolescence and school. It was time to make a living.

I started to truck cross country and I was beginning to witness firsthand the great vast open plains, those purple mountains so high with snow-capped peaks and finally, finally the sweeping deserts of the southwest with high distant mountains and mesas. All this always fueled my passion to one day be a landscape photographer. This is not to say I did not have a camera by my side all times. I considered myself a serious amateur in those days. I even taught myself how to paint with oils and play guitar but photography was the apple of my heart and the art I just needed to express myself with.

Fast forward to 2007, Vanessa and I moved to New Mexico, and after a short stint with the New Mexico Stare Police (being a western lawman like John Wayne), I entered the University of New Mexico in the spring of 2009 to pursue an art degree. There is really something to be said when you follow your passion and Gods perfect will. By the grace of God, I graduated this past spring 2012 with my BFA in Art Studio-Photography, Cum Laude and High Honors.

Sorry, but I have to disagree, Minnesota’s got Wisconsin beat all the way. And no, I don’t do football, unless there is food involved. Hey–is that cheese? Yum! 🙂 

Well that wraps up the first part of our interview. Tomorrow we will discuss his goals, his photographs, and what he has to do to get them. Jory has a website in the works at Jory Vander Galien. So stay tuned. If you’d like to see more of his work, check out the contest his photos are in over at Santa Fe Creative Tourism. And don’t forget to vote for your favorites. 🙂  He is also on Facebook at Jory Vander Galien Photography. If you want what you see, he takes orders for prints. 🙂


8 thoughts on “Photographer Jory Vander Galien

  1. Catherine Johnson says:

    Wow, those pictures are amazing! I love photography myself, but I just play around with it, you have talent!

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Hey Catherine! Thanks! I will let him know. He’ll stop by later. 🙂

    • Jory Vander Galien says:

      Thank you so much Catherine. Your words really mean a lot to me. Photography in my opinion is one of the top mediums of expressive and creative arts, right up there with music, poetry and painting but for me it is photography I can speak with the most. You say I have a talent which to an extend there is some truth but it really derives from the passion pit deep within. I think you outta play around with it a little more and photography just might become something more than just playing around lol. Eventually this is what and why I want teach workshops. To help people realize that a hobby can become a little more meaningful and to embrace the inner fire of creative expression.

  2. Wow, what gorgeous pictures. Thank you for sharing them!

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Thanks for stopping by Michele! I’m glad you liked them. I will tell him. Thanks! 🙂

    • Jory Vander Galien says:

      Ms Michelle, thank you so much!!! If you’re interested in following my progress, you can follow my Facebook artist page but my real website and blog will be up and running before the end of the year. I look forward to the future as I could not even be where I am today were it not for my fire, my fans and God. Again thank you for you kind and generous words.

  3. Mark says:

    I adore Jory, his art is transformative and so beautiful! Capturing what most of us miss on a day to day basis. It is amazing in the fact that photgraphs most always are stagnant and still, but Jory always catches the ligt and true movement of his surroundings! I have many of his prints and have become a great admirer of his work and his mission, and BOY! Is he on a mission! lol
    I suspect he will break out soon enough and everyone will be transfixed by his work, as I am. This is my hope and dream for him and his family too. What a great pal and friend too!
    Thank you for this wonderful forum, Michele, and for shedding some of Jory’s beautiful inner light back upon him.

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Thanks Mark for stopping by and commenting! I agree with you as you can see from the interviews. I love Jory’s work and I really do hope he will break out soon as well. 🙂


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