Let me introduce myself to you as Jasper James. I’ve been described as a naturalist, photographer, educator and songwriter and I guess it’s true I am all those things at one point or another and sometimes all at once. It keeps life interesting.
Let me answer the most common question I get. What sets my work apart and what do I use for equipment? The answer to the last part is – 35mm Nikon cameras and lenses with Fuji slide film (100 ASA and 50 ASA). I spend many long nights in a traditional photo lab I set up in an old New England mill making sure each shot is a work of art.
What sets my work apart, I believe, is not the equipment but knowledge of the subject, patience and the use of light. Any one of these is more important than the equipment. It’s not the quality of the hammer as much as the knowledge of the carpenter who is using the hammer. Since 1976, when I drove around the country on my motorcycle and continued on up to Alaska, I have returned some 50 times. This wealth of experience and the friends I’ve made with the elite of the photo world have given me unique opportunities. Over these years, I’ve been dropped off on remote shores of the Gulf of Alaska and picked up weeks later, camped with the grizzlies about my tent and been eye to eye with wild wolves while watching them take down their prey and howl from the ridges of Alaska’s highest mountains. I’ve climbed glaciers and watched them crash, I've seen thousands of salmon rushing through a gauntlet of obstacles, while hundreds of eagles fly a stone’s throw away. I've stood in awe of the Great One (Mt McKinley) hundreds of times and have been no less inspired each time. And when the day is through and the sky is clear, the night sky may or may not dance in Northern Lights, begging me to put off the sleep that I may desperately need. So I wait, cold and bleary eyed with no guarantee, hoping to be blessed by the “Spirit Path.” For each glorious sunset and sunrise there are hundreds of grey mornings and dark rainy days. There are few comfortable moments in these photos. Extensive study, planning, frozen fingers, wet shoes, sore joints, poor sleep, long waits and little food are part of the process. These are the ingredients of a great shot.
The fact remains, I enjoy virtually every minute of it including the cold, rain and the solitude. The blessings are many and the reward is the journey. Sharing it with you completes the circle and it becomes art only when it speaks to you. Without you, it’s just a photo.