Interview with Jeremy Lavender of Lavender Peaks Photography
I apologize for the delay in getting the remainder of our Juneau box interviews posted. I had some things going on personally that required my focus, so thank you to all our readers for your patience. :)
With that said, our next interview is with Jeremy Lavender! He owns Lavender Peaks Photography and we had a good chat about what styles of photography he likes and prefers, a little bit about the difference between digital and film, and more. Without further ado!
Tell me a bit about yourself, Lavender Peaks Photography, and how you got started?
JEREMY LAVENDER: Well, I was born and raised in Anchorage as a 5th generation Alaskan, and I currently live in Juneau. My interest in photography started late in high school. I was part of a big crew of skateboarders and we did a lot of media-type stuff like filming and whatnot. Once I realized there was no way I was good enough to make a career out of skateboarding, I focused more on the media side. Eventually I got hired to work at Kits Camera in Anchorage as a video guy and from there I was exposed to everything photography related. This was right at the turn of digital so getting to play with all the new tech was a blast. From then I’ve been hooked.
Very cool. Speaking of tech, are there some new things out there now that you're pretty excited about and how they might change things for the better?
JEREMY: For me, personally, I am loving the new mirrorless systems out there. I’m using a Nikon Z6 right now and having the ability to carry around something smaller has made it easier for me to want to carry a camera with me everywhere. The build is great so when I am on the mountain I won’t have to worry about moisture or anything like that, but again the size will allow me to carry a smaller bag, which will be far lighter and agile, but also discreet. The video capabilities are fantastic as well, so I am looking forward to getting back into video.
What was it about action sports, active lifestyle, and landscapes that made you want to focus on those types of pictures?
JEREMY: I grew up skateboarding and snowboarding so really it was just the thing I loved to do. Capturing my friends and watching the progression of riders is just a lot of fun to be around. Of course growing up here in Alaska, there is no shortage of beautiful scenery, so learning the techniques to improve my landscape photography is always something I am working on.
Regarding those techniques, is that something you can tell us a bit more about? What are some things that you've learned technique-wise that you feel have really helped you?
JEREMY: A lot of it has been post-processing techniques. Learning more about photoshop and trying to stay up to date with what they are doing has helped me slow down and really think about what I want to accomplish as a final result as opposed to just going out, shooting away and seeing what happens.
I saw on your website that you shoot weddings as well. What are some of the differences when it comes to shooting weddings versus other things?
JEREMY: Weddings are a whole different beast. There is so much that goes into shooting weddings that every year I struggle with if I’m going to actually shoot any or not. They can be quite stressful so I try to stick with what I am passionate about for now. When I decide to make the leap to full time, that will likely be a larger part of the business because it will definitely help keep us afloat.
I understand that you shoot that in both digital and film. Do you have a preference or does it really just depend on your mood and what you're going for?
JEREMY: I will usually break out the film cameras if I feel as though I’m lacking in inspiration, or just getting bored with shooting. Film takes so much work, and recently I’ve started to develop my own film at home, and that adds another level of difficulty and of course time. I’d say film is mostly shot for my mental health and personal projects. It’s nice to force myself to slow down and take my time.
The extent of my film developing knowledge is bits and pieces I've picked up from movies, and I imagine it's not all that accurate. What's that process like?
JEREMY: I’m sure you’re used to seeing the darkroom and all that stuff. Thankfully it’s not that intense. For just developing color film you need chemicals and warm water. The hardest part is keeping your temperatures where they need to be. That’s what I’m currently struggling with. Essentially you’ve got a lightproof container that you load your film into via a dark bag, which is just a black lightproof canvas bag, then you mix chemicals at a particular temp, give ‘em a good mix and rinse, and you’re good. Digitizing them can be as easy as taking a photo of them with a decent resolution camera, then doing some post-processing. All that said, I’m still working on cleaning up images from my first attempt, so it is a lot of work.
I know there are a lot of different styles of photography. What are your favorite styles and why?
JEREMY: Of course I love active lifestyle and action sport photography. I grew up looking at photos in all the skateboard and snowboarding mags. Some of my current and long-time favorites are Chris Burkard and Tim Zimmerman. Chris has become one of the biggest names in active lifestyle, and Zim I’ve been following for a long time and have always loved his style. Brian Adams is a local guy who shoots some amazing environmental portraits and docs-style work. Then there’s the Scottish Landscape photographer, Thomas Heaton, who I’ve been following on YouTube for a few years now. Recently I’ve been studying Fine Art photography and trying to create my own style and portfolio which has been fun.
When it comes to something like style in photography, what defines style? I hear the word
but sometimes can't completely wrap my head around it.
JEREMY: Oof, that’s really a tough one to put into words. With anything, it’s pretty much a personal feeling. I think a lot of photographers will edit photos a certain way. The way one sees or uses light, be it natural or not, the framing or composition of subjects.
I saw a snippet on the website talking about you being a PPA (Professional Photographers of America) photographer. What exactly is that and how did that come about?
JEREMY: PPA is a non-profit for photographers that provides a whole lot of resources for people running businesses, as well as educational courses, national and district photo competitions, law support, and equipment insurance, to name a few. It’s something I joined earlier this year and probably don’t take enough advantage of all the resources, but it has been very helpful with furthering my business.
Beyond just the photos themselves, which are really awesome, do you have any particular experiences that stand out in your mind? Or any moments you recall that shifted the path of your photography?
JEREMY: Growing up in Alaska and seeing how swiftly things have been changing, and even here in Southeast, I’ve been here nearly a decade now, and the way we watch the Mendenhall recede, the hotter summers, warmer winters, shorter snow seasons at Eaglecrest, all of this has really changed the way I want to move forward with my business and just life in general. I’ve slowly started working with some conservational efforts here in SE, and at home working to be more and more sustainable, as well as reducing our waste.
Are there any upcoming events that you'll be taking pictures at?
JEREMY: No particular events at the moment, but I am always shooting, always working on some kind of project. Right now I’ve been working on ideas for 2020, ways to try and boost my business and try to make the jump to full-time photog.
Let's talk a bit more about the shot that you included in the box. What's the story behind that one?
JEREMY: I bought a new-to-me, used camera, that was supposed to have top-notch low light capabilities, so I knew I wanted to get to this location to try and get some aurora photos to really test the camera. I was fortunate enough to catch the full arc of the aurora as well as its reflection at the location, so that was exciting.
What was it about The Bear Box that made you want to be a part of it?
JEREMY: I love to support Alaskan-created art as well as supporting local businesses as much as possible, keeping money in Alaska’s economy, and supporting Alaskan families, so once I heard you were looking for an artist from Southeast, I had to jump at the opportunity, and am very grateful!
Anything else that you haven't mentioned yet that you'd like to? Words of wisdom? Favorite inspirational quote?
JEREMY: I’m trying to be a life-long learner, so never stop learning, and keep reading.
A big thanks to Jeremy from myself and the rest of us at The Bear Box! If you're wanting to find out more about Jeremy and Lavender Peaks, check out his website or connect with him through his Facebook and Instagram.