SmugMug Corner #67: Jason Hummel
In our 67th edition of the popular photographer interview series "SmugMug Corner," we meet 31-year-old financial advisor Jason Hummel. While he's a financial advisor by day, his photography is anything but boring - from mountain climbing to skiing, kayaking; anything that's outside. Check out 14 of his favorite photographs, along with his inspiring and compelling interview below.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Jason Hummel and I'm 31 years old. Until recently I worked as a Financial Advisor in Washington State, which is funny because I can't think of a less artistic avenue. Perhaps it was all that pent up energy during my Monday-Friday, 9-5 job that inspired me to head into the mountains no matter what it took. Whether it was skiing, climbing, mountain biking or whitewater kayaking, I was out there expressing and experiencing my love of nature and, more importantly, being outside allowed me to disconnect myself from work. This is part of the reason I love photography. It allows me to capture the essence of my experiences out there and to bring them home to carry me through times I'm not able to.
What is your background/training in photography?
Like many I am a self taught photographer, which is much easier than in the pre-internet days. There is so much information online; almost anything I need to learn is at the tip of my fingers. The biggest challenge is wading through it all! This doesn't detract me from what is most important: friends, friendships, and challenges. That means putting the camera away when I must.
How long has photography been a passion for you? When, where and how did it start?
Unfortunately my passion wasn't piqued until a sad event changed my life. Over the years, too many adventures on water, rock, ice, dirt and snow defined me. It wasn't until my best friend and climbing partner - Ben Manfredi reached his paddle into that deep green water and dropped into Goblin's Gate on the Grand Canyon of the Elwha - that I changed. He tragically drowned there at 25 years old. After nearly a decade exploring the Cascade Mountains, dozens of pioneering ski and kayak adventures, I was rudderless. For me, his camera became that companion I knew I couldn't have along.
What equipment is in your camera bag? What piece of equipment will be added to the collection next?
What are your favorite places/subjects to photograph? Why?
High up in clear, cool mountain air, when you are days from civilization and morning rises, you don't only see a sunrise, but feel it. When a storm emerges and howls its fury, you don't hide from it, but face it. For most of my life and outdoor adventures, I never had a camera because I couldn't afford one. I remember clearly too many images like the ones I describe here. They are the images I want to bring home. Thusly, they are my favorites as well, whenever that rare chance arises to photograph them.
Who are your biggest photographic influences? Why? What about their work influences your work?
It is the little things that inspire me. A photo in a magazine or on the internet, a good book, poem or song, plus that young kid in me can't forget old National Geographic's I used to save, flipping through every page, dreaming of heading out on my own crazy adventures.
How long have you been Smug with your photographs? What features do you most enjoy with your SmugMug account?
I've been with SmugMug for just over a year. Things I love are the ease of changing webpage layout, creating galleries and seeing which photos are viewed in your statistics page. Most of all, I like seeing the photos BIG.
If you had do sum up in 50 words or less the impact SmugMug has made on your photography/photography business, those 50 words would be...
It allowed me to begin a page, add photos and begin to sell them in a quick and easy way. Plus the opportunity to meet others who are a part of the SmugMug community.
If you had to give one piece of advice to those wanting to pursue photography, what would you tell them?
Face your fears. Go places that are new and different. They help you see the world in another way - and ALWAYS keep taking photos on every trip out, even if the light is bad, you feel uninspired or lazy. There are no excuses. And don't forget to keep learning. If an old image looks bad that you used to think fantastic, then you are learning and that should be celebrated.