Today’s part two of our interview with photographer Jory Vander Galien. If you’ve missed the introduction and all the lovely pictures from yesterday, you can find the first interview here. So without further ado, let’s dig in! In one of your photos, I see tents camped out at the edge of a mesa, which leads me to wonder, what do you go through to get the perfect picture?
Oh yeah…I love to backpack and really get out there away from everything. 9.9 times out of 10 I am alone too. I love being out in the open high desert alone. It is so quiet that all you hear is the ringing of your own ears and it almost hurts your ears…it is very eerie. This past summer I took my brothers out into the stillness if the high desert and I warned them of this and they experienced it firsthand. It is something that can only be sensed in the high desert I guess. Because even in the stillness of the mountains, you hear the wind pass through the trees but in the wide-open…nothing nada zilch.
The risk of being alone most of the time though is I can get into some pretty precarious situations. I have had a few run-ins with a rattlers, a few near miss steps close to falling to my death, close to being struck by lightning during the monsoon season and have even been broken down and stuck with my car with no one around for 50 miles to help… it can get hairy out there in the desert. But I think the thing that scares my most is losing my keys to my car believe it or not, but being out in the desert just invigorates me. The fact that I feel so small and insignificant to the vastness all around me just gets my blood pumping. Being alone making photographs is my ultimate drug per-se. Hence, I have to camp a lot to get the picture I need. The picture I believe you are referring to has two tents right? This is the trip I took my brothers on.
Adventuresome! You might have to revisit and share some of your adventures with us. I see a lot of landscape photos, is that your favorite? What else do you most enjoy taking photos of?
Ya there is no question that Landscape photography is my favorite. Looking at a great landscape photograph helps me be more imaginative. It takes me places, places that I don’t always have words to portray my mindset. You know what I mean? It’s like… an escape from my present. When I see a great landscape photograph, I imagine being there in that vast stillness. I quite literally get the feeling I am really there in the frame of the photograph. It is a form of escapism and this is what I try to do with my work as well. I believe this is much more successful with a black and white landscape image because there is less color distraction while with a B&W, one can only see tones of grey and if you look real hard, you can start to hear musical tones, and when that happens, that is when your escape begins.
As far as another medium of art photography, I really enjoy architecture. Actually lets just say this, I like taking pictures of things that doesn’t move. Scenes I can control (not that I control a landscape or the weather) but I sit and wait (camp) for hour’s even days for the right photograph. When the right picture is there…I just know it and I get goose bumps all over. I am in control of my camera and compositions but the weather and the potential of light is completely out of my hands, which is again where the waiting game begins. The great thing about photography is, I can control the amount of light that reaches my film or sensor. I control what I want my viewer to look at. Just taking a landscape photograph with everything in plain view can be boring; I like to make a picture with character and a personality all of its own. So this is a different kind of control rather than lets say shooting a wedding where I am directing and always on the move seeking that one money shot rather than waiting out in the field.
So yes, I do photograph other things. I have to make a living hehehe so I do shoot weddings and portraits. It is unfortunate that it is the commercial side of this medium is where most of the money comes from. It is rare that an artist can actually make a 100% living off their art but I have to say… it is not impossible and this is my ultimate goal and I have the belief this could become a true reality for me in the coming years.
What are your goals as a photographer?
Wow…perfect timing for this question right…wow.
So I am feverishly trying to get some work into some galleries. Once I can get into a gallery or two then I can start making a little bit more on my sales. Sales are sporadic especially in this economy, I can go months without a sale then all of a sudden boom…10 sales this month but it averages out to about one print or two a month so this is where great gallery representation would be such a great help. Please pray for this.
I hope to have a book deal here in the next 5 years too so this is exciting to even think about.
One other thing is, in the next year here or two, I plan to start up my own landscape photography workshop. No I won’t get rich doing them but it is a way to make side money to keep up with the equipment needs and of course it keeps me closer to the landscapes I love so much.
As an artist though, it is my goal to bring my viewer to a place they have never seen. My work is mostly austere and quiet so with that in mind, having a distant austere landscape in your living room invokes a sense of imagine and surreal fantasy I suppose as I explained already, a place to escape to. I get some of the most unusual remarks from my clients who own my work but the most common theme is they have a reason to escape into the picture and see God.
Recently, there’s been some interesting conversations about Pinterest, sharing images found online, copyrights on photographs, and such, at least among the writerly types. This is your livelihood, or at least your dream just as much as writing is mine and the next person is something else. What’s your take on this?
Ya I used to take this really serious but I have come to realize that if someone really wants a picture for whatever reason, they can take a screenshot of the thing. There is no real way to stop this but the thing is though, the files I post online are really small and copyrighted so stealing one of my images is of no real value to someone. I have made plenty of educational screenshots for PowerPoint presentations for my classes. Like I said though, there is no real point to even get all up in arms about it anymore these days. I mean in some ways an artist’s ultimate compliment is to have their work stolen. Now on the other hand…if you are posting 50MB files online…then you’re just asking to get ripped off but even then, every digital image has embedded copyright and metadata file attached, so if someone tried to claim an image as their own or tried making a professional size print without the artist’s consent…there is a consequence. I for one would never what to be on the wrong end of that.
As far as Pinterest goes… isn’t that just for women? LOL. In all seriousness, no I don’t use that. However, now that I just recently acquired an iPhone, I have been having fun with Instagram. I can be followed there at joryvg.
Don’t be too quick write off Pinterest. 🙂 Tell us a little bit about the contest you’re in and how we might support you in your endeavors.
So this is a landscape photography contest showcasing the splendor New Mexico as its centerpiece only as a means to celebrate 2012 as New Mexico’s 100 years of official statehood. The contest is also a celebration of Master Photographer Craig Varjabedian’s (my former mentor) newest book called Landscape Dreams.
The contest requires you to vote for your favorite images (which btw I hope you find mine to be your favorites). You can only vote once for each picture. In other words, once you vote for a certain image of mine then you can never vote for that image again. I am looking for as many votes as possible. The image with the most votes is the winner. Right now I am in first place and you can find my work easily by finding the “TOP RATED” from the dropdown menu to the right, however there are a few images starting to get closer to mine in votes. Please if you can, vote for my work, I would be forever grateful. The voting ends on Nov 30. In order to vote you will need to register your email or login through Facebook but I think it is easier to just register your email. One thing you can do though is share you voted for my work on your Facebook wall.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview Jory!
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. 🙂 He has a website in the works at Jory Vander Galien. So stay tuned.