Photographer: Jeremiah Watt
Heidi: Doing sport is a lifestyle, how has that added to your ability to get work, are you training for work or life?
Jeremiah: Photography is a reflection of the photographer and this is particularly apparent in adventure sport. My history immersed in the culture and joy of adventure sport and community is directly reflected in my shooting style and has created many of the client relationships I now hold close. Without my backstory, my photos – both adventure related and beyond – would lack that special sauce that helps them ring true. As for fitness, that varies and changes with age. I no longer think of gin and tonic as a recovery drink and actively work at maintaining fitness. The face of training varies depending on the season but consistent play, complex movement, downtime, and a conscientious diet are always a priority.
What would you tell your younger self about photography?
There’s a difference between taking photos and being a photographer. Be a photographer.
The blend of work, play and family shines bright in your work. Is there a discussion on trips whether this is work and play, or only one of those?
Not really. It’s always centered around an activity, experience, and just being present. The photos are secondary but if everything’s in place the photos are a natural extension of the experience.
How often do you road trip with your family?
I think of a road trip as being on the road for at least a week, so we only do one of those a summer. Typically we try for two international trips – one short, one long – and multiple shorter trips. During the summer and peak climbing season we’re often out for 2 – 3 days multiple times a month playing in the water, hanging in the hills, or climbing.
How has all the road tripping with family informed your work and family life? You’re playing a lot of roles, father, husband and professional.
This is really a chicken and egg type question. My wife and I had this lifestyle long before we had a family and before I picked up a camera I was either working in the outdoor space – ski patrol, occasional climbing guide – or had a job that allowed maximum time in the outdoor space – bartender, medical flight dispatcher. When I picked up a camera documenting adventure sport and lifestyle was a natural fit and our family is a natural extension of our desire to maintain that lifestyle. In the order of roles, family always comes first and sometimes that means missing the family, to provide for the family, which can be a difficult thing to wrap one’s head around.
Do you ask your family for do overs?
Not really. Here and there I’ll ask for a specific shot or set up a situation that provides what I have in mind. Mostly it’s being aware of time and space and then situating myself to capture a moment organically. That being said, I often park the van, or pitch a tent, to catch first or last light, am very aware of where the sun is (or isn’t), and plan trips that work for spec shoots so it’s not nearly as haphazard as it sounds.
Did you travel much as a kid with your parents? Where does your love of the outdoors come from?
Turns out this gets complicated…I grew up in a small town in Wyoming, the eldest of six children w/ little money, divorced parents, and a very rigid, religious upbringing on one hand, a liberal, informed, gracious background on the other. Like most folk from small towns in Wyoming, travel wasn’t on the table and traveling out of the state was a big deal. I didn’t see the ocean until my mid-twenties and the only flight I remember as a child was to Iowa to attend my father’s wedding in my early teens. For reference, Alexander played in the Caribbean before he could walk and has seen more at fourteen than I had at 30.
My step dad was Native American and we hunted as a means of putting food on the table. While my step father and I were never close, some of my fondest early memories are of hunting elk on horseback deep in the Wind Rivers and I’m sure those experiences helped build a foundation rooted in outdoor experience. Growing up in the shadow of religion was a fairly solitary endeavor and as a child I spent hours reading adventure and fantasy novels. As I got older playing outside with these stories in mind became a way to escape the chaos and push the boundaries. Later, in my late teens, I turned my back on religion, the family went haywire, and I was up for anything – good or bad – to fill the void created from growing up in a box. I wouldn’t say the times were dark but a promising future wasn’t part of the picture. Fortunately, I bumped into climbing, college, and photography shortly after, and that was the beginning of a new reality. Climbing then was as much a lifestyle as a sport and it offered a new family and path that laid the foundation for the life I live today.
You’ve spent the last few decades in the outdoor space, what projects speak to you the most lately?
While I’m always interested in authentic experience and hope to always work in that field, I’m looking for more conservation and alternative energy stories. Modern media has been consumed with the doom and gloom of the day and I’d like to share stories of hope and renewal. We’re not doomed (yet) and there’s huge potential to create a tomorrow that’s brighter than today, however, an alternative reality won’t happen on it’s own. I’ve developed a talent for creating compelling imagery and I’d love to use that tool to help propel us into the future. There’s huge potential for agriculture to shift global norms on food production and carbon sequestration through regenerative farming – I want to tell this story. Stunning habitats and cultures are on the brink of being lost forever – I’d love to create imagery to save and empower these spaces. Multiple brands are implementing full circle, sustainable business models – I want to promote those brands.
I’m excited for the Klamath to run free and plan on photography that.
What are you working on now?I’m looking for a few fresh clients that would be a good fit – new work in conservation / alternative energy and/or brands that I can get behind as a human . Hopefully someone’s up to collaborate.
There’s a lot of space out there worth experiencing. Snow’s falling in the hills so the split board is waxed and out. The rock down low is prime and the rivers are flowing. Training is never ending and I’ve a few trips on the horizon that need to be flushed out. A buddy and I began #strokeyourbone as a self inflicted DIY bonefishing excursion nearly a decade ago. It’s become a winter highlight that’s taken us throughout the Caribbean and morphed into a valuable tool for collaboration. This year it looks like the Bahamas and we still have space for fresh brands to jump onboard. We aim for 10 days on location and the photos always stand out as a direct reflection of the good times. There’s a family trip to Fontainebleau this spring. And a Mexico surf trip. Plenty of space for new clients. Life really. Just working on the present.
Original article: The Daily Edit – Jeremiah Watt.