Jason D. Moore is a well known photographer and graphic designer, with ACE certifications on Adobe PS CS3, has extensive experience as a videographer, is a member of the Adobe Acrobat User Community, and also has some extensive experience in web development. Suffice to say, he is very well-known for his Photography and Photoshop Blogroll, and has had several mentions on Photoshop User TV. He also hosts photo walks in the Southern Tier of New York and is just a super nice guy. Last week he and I had a chance to exchange a few emails and I learned quite a bit about him and his background from our discussion.
Q. Everyone always wants to know some of the basics, so let’s get a few things out of the way at once here…How long have you been a photographer?
A. I’ve been taking pictures on and off since I was a kid. When I was the editor of my high school yearbook I began to see images more in terms of their composition and how they conveyed a message when placed together in a collection. I got a lot from my dad when I would go along with him on video shoots growing up and learned how to take it from just conveying a message to telling a story. I didn’t do much with photography in college, but rediscovered my love for it while studying abroad during my senior year with Semester at Sea (www.semesteratsea.com) and then began taking it really seriously with my first dSLR – a Nikon D50 – back in 2006.
Q. 2. Canon or Nikon?
Q. Mac or PC?
Q. Chocolate or Vanilla?
A. Vanilla – but I also really like Black Raspberry, Peanut Butter Cup, Cookies and Cream, and Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream.
Q. Moving into a little more granularity, photographers often enjoy hearing helpful and constructive critiques of their work, as we are aware of how much we can grow from it. However, we’ve also all had the “nice shot” and “cool” comments when we’ve shared our work. What was the singular most useful critique or comment you’ve ever had on work you’ve shared publicly?
A. I’m not sure it’s considered a critique that I learned from but I always remember Scott Kelby telling me, “You’ve got some very inspiring work—a great eye (which is what it’s all about), and some great Photoshop skills to boot!” And when one of my shots was picked as a NAPP Editor’s Choice, Larry Becker said, “This (and many other images in this portfolio) make us want to be there. This is beautiful art.” Making viewers want to be there is a high goal to strive for and it pushes me to try harder every time I go out shooting to attain it. These comments would mean a lot no matter who said them, but because they come from men I respect and who know what they are talking about, it really touched me.
Q. If someone was asking you for an honest critique of their work, what 3 factors would you look at most (excluding friendships or family relatives, we’re talking professional or fellow photographer-types here)?
A. Technically speaking I look at framing/composition, color/tone, and sharpness/depth of field (not in any particular order). However, while all of those things are important, I’ve always been a believer in art trumping the technical. I look for a sense of style, individuality and a unique approach/perspective, and most of all, that the piece tells a story. If it moves me, the technical stuff doesn’t matter as much.
Q. Got any war stories from field shoots or outings that you can or would be willing to share?
A. It’s not a photography story, but a videography story. A few years ago at my old job I was headed out on a shoot about 4 hours away. Before I left, I checked all my gear to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything – batteries, microphones, cables, directions, etc. – and headed out the door. I was already running a little bit late. When I got about an hour and a half into my drive, I suddenly realized that I never checked to make sure I had enough tape for the day. At the next service area I reached into the camera bag and realized that, not only did I not have enough tape for the day, I didn’t have any! So I had to drive back an hour and a half to grab the tapes that were sitting right next to where the camera bag was. At the end of the day, I was advised of a “better” route back home which actually added an extra hour or so to the trip. So I ended up spending 4 extra hours in the car.
There are also the couple of times when I was doing some live event work when, due to scheduling or technical issues of one sort or another, I had to endure 40-hour work days, including setup of a convention center’s worth of sound and video equipment and full-day sessions of conferences.
Q. If you had to choose between the gear or the software as the only way to create, which would it be and why?
A. I learned a lot about Photoshop before I learned a whole lot about Photography and I think you can do some amazing things when the two are working in concert. With that said, I’d have to go with the camera over the software. Photographers were creating breathtaking shots long before there was Photoshop and really, without the shot, the software isn’t much use, is it?
Q. Any final thoughts you’d like to share about the state of photography or any catch phrases that you keep in mind when shooting?
A. I’m a details kind of guy and I really like the phrase “get close, then get closer.” I think I heard it from Derek Story but can’t be certain. It’s a concept I’ve heard over and over but that says it really well. One of the things I strive for is to find a part that tells of the whole. Sometimes you don’t need to show all of something for your audience to get it. Sometimes just a small piece can say more than the entire subject and you will usually find that your shots are more interesting that way too!
I’d like to thank Jason for taking the time out of his busy schedule to share some of his thoughts and experiences with the readership here. Please stop over at this website to thank him yourself and to see his portfolio of work. He can be found at: http://www.jasondmoore.com