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Artist of the Week – Jay Goodrich

September 30, 2010 by · 4 comments

An interview with the photographer Jay Goodrich by Aneliya Angelcheva


“And Beauty is a form of Genius…”
Oscar Wild

What is actually needed to capture the beauty of a moment? Love, passion, emotion…? Jay Goodrich is a photographer whose artwork goes beyond capturing the moment. He shares a feeling, a fleeting, beautiful moment in space and time that would otherwise be lost. Going beyond the most important tenants of photography, composition, clarity, and light, Jay’s photos also exude emotion and passion. Jay creates unique compositions of colors and shapes that reveal his talent and let him share his photographic desire.


How did everything start? Was photography a spiritual need or just a hobby?

It all started about a week after I graduated college. I packed up my car and moved from the home in New Jersey that I grew up in to Evergreen, Colorado. Weekend excursions quickly lead to the desire to share what I was seeing with everyone I knew. Which lead to the first camera purchase. Then my girlfriend at the time gave me a book entitled “Light on the Land” by photographer Art Wolfe. It was like a revelation. This book showed me that there was a connection with painting and photography. Now I just needed to make the connection for myself. Twenty years later and here I am.

Now it is a necessity. I need to create. I need to discover new places, new compositions, new ways of showing the things that bounce around in my head to the rest of the world.

Silver Dunes in Colorado

You are a photographer and a writer too. Which prevails?

Photography definitely prevails. I started writing because it seemed like a great way to give the editor the whole package and actually get published in a rather tough market. It also gives me a broader range of sources to derive income from in a tough economy. Diversify.


Nature, adventure, architecture – this is wide spectrum of photography interests. How did you happen to have an affinity for these particular types of photography?

It all pretty much grew out of my lifestyle. I participate in all of the adventure sports that I photograph. Nature is where I find my soul. And architecture is what I used to do for a living. My college degree is in architecture, I was an architect and builder for 15 years, so it seemed only natural to add a commercial aspect to my photography business that I know intimately.

Many ask me how I can maintain focus on three very different disciplines of photography and the key for me is that all great photography must contain a few simple ideals. There must be great light, great composition, and great concept. If you bring those three things into an image regardless of the subject you will succeed most of the time.


You were a finalist in the 2004 and 2008 Nature’s Best photography competition; you were also a finalist in Photographer’s Forum Magazine’s 2004 and 2009 Spring Photography Contest; you were a winner in NANPA’s 2007 Members’ Showcase Competition and semi-finalist in the 2008 and 2009 BBC Wildlife photographer of the Year contest, and many others. How does success influence your work?

Success is just the icing on the cake. I work hard. Usually to 1 or 2 in the am, most days of the week. So, winning a competition or getting an article published just proves to me all that work is for some greater reward. That said, I don’t think it influences me other than making me work harder for greater successes. I love what I do and would never change it. I have done the 9-5 job thing and that doesn’t really work with me. Photography on the other hand works on so many other levels. It is a creative outlet, a learning experience, and full of surprises almost every day of the week.


You are a photographer but you are also a writer. Tell me more about your writing passion. When? Why? How?

Like I said earlier it grew out of almost a necessity. I am not one of those serious writers who can put words together so eloquently that people just fall to their knees in praise. I know a few of those types and I am always amazed by it. For me it is just another way I let the outsider into my brain if for nothing more than a couple of hundred words. I have begun to write these little creative short stories on my blog that I have entitled “the experience”. They are based on my life experiences to this point and I think they are beginning to highlight a side of me that most have yet to see. In addition, they are super fun to write. No research, no quoting, just creative content in the form of words instead of pixels based on places, experiences, and events that I have taken part in.

In college I had a side focus on creative writing so if at some point I experience enough to write an autobiography or something like that I definitely will. Maybe it can be put in the form of a coffee table book with some of my images. Who knows. Crafting words is almost as cool as shooting images though.


One of my favorite photos is White Sands Yardang. But to me hiking all day long alone to explore White Sands New Mexico is quite a dangerous undertaking. You are entirely dependent on the weather conditions which could be unforeseeable. Aren’t you afraid? What pushes you to go and explore new locations?

I am not ever really afraid. I will get nervous in an unknown place if I am walking back to my car after dark and I have never experienced the local wildlife, but I pretty much try to take the element of surprise out of every situation that I am in. I research locations pretty extensively before leaving or even deciding to travel there in the first place.

I try to be prepared for most ‘unforeseeable’ situations. Most of the time I am, but there have been times when I have kicked myself for forgetting spare batteries, the rain jacket, etc. In those situations you make due with what you have and add in an extra component of creativity–one of survival.

New locations completely stimulate my senses. They push creativity to the front of the brain and allow for sensory overload. For me that is like being injected with adrenaline. I love the feeling. It’s as good as a triple shot mocha.


In one of your posts you say “Practice, practice, practice”. Tell me something more about the working process. How do you actually decide to take a picture of a certain object?

I actually practice, practice, practice. I am a firm believer that the brain is a muscle, so I try to work it out a few times a week. There is a simple formula for me, the more I photograph, the more I see to photograph. It’s that simple. I don’t allow the rust to form. And I am always looking for the next thing that catches my eye. Not every photograph I take is a success. And not every photograph that I like is liked by others. What is important is that I have a reasoning for why I created an image. Can I back up my vision? If I don’t have that reasoning backing it up, I toss it and move on.


What is the secret that hides behind a good shot? Is there something that could mislead the photographer?

I don’t think there are any secrets. I think the key is to try to know what has been done before. Try to be different. Try to create. Study painters, designers, architects, websites, anything that has a strong design theory to it, then apply those concepts to your image making. Add passion, and emotion and take the picture.

There are so many places in this world that have been photographed but that doesn’t mean you should stand where others have stood. Try to highlight your own vision and go beyond the obvious. That’s when you become a great photographer. Or painter. Or architect. Or whatever.

I’ll let you know when I have achieved it.


Except for the top 5 photographs which you have already named, do you have a favorite photo of your own?

I think they are all my favorites. And my next favorite will be the one I take tomorrow and then the one that I take the day after that. I think this is because I am always becoming a better artist, a better technician, and a better visualizer. Hopefully, I will continue on this path for the rest of my life.

Your artwork tell their own stories, live their own life, and have their own past. They are windows to our beautiful world. Do you have a place where you love to take shots; a favorite place for rest, for escaping from the everyday life?

I have many and it changes by season and location. Right now I am really into exploring the Desert Southwest. I don’t know why, I am just in love with the colors and textures that I am finding there. Every turn seems to be an unwinding new palette for me.

I head to California in a couple of weeks, then Florida, North Carolina, Texas, New York and then the desert in Utah in November and China in the spring. I am sure I will find new favorites in all those locations.


What represents beauty to you?

Beauty is my wife, my daughter and my son.

What do you dream for?

I dream often of success. Of places I want to go. Of things I want to create. Of where I will be a year from now, 5 years from now, and 10 years from now. Of my kids. Of flying planes, riding bikes, and skiing long, never ending, steep descents in perfect untracked powder. Of photographing that next composition.

I pretty much get to live my dreams every day of the year. It’s not a bad life.

Jay Goodrich is an internationally published and celebrated photographer and writer. His clients have included fortune five hundred companies, trade publications, national and international magazines and books, graphic designers, architects, builders, commercial printers, and many others.

He was a finalist in both the 2004 and 2008 Nature’s Best photography competition, a highly commended photographer in the 2009 Nature’s Best photography competition, and a finalist in Photographer’s Forum Magazine’s 2004 and 2009 Spring Photography Contest, and received honorable mentions in the 2006, 2007, and 2008 International Conservation Photography Awards competitions. He is also a winner in NANPA’s 2007 Members’ Showcase Competition. Jay placed 7th out of 63 in the Coastal Bend Wildlife Photo Contest in Corpus Christi, TX for 2007 and 10th in 2009, and was a semi-finalist in the 2008 and 2009 BBC Wildlife photographer of the Year contest as well as a finalist in the 2010 competition.

Jay’s fine art prints have hung in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, CO, The State Capitol of Colorado, Borders Book Stores, and Barnes and Noble Book Stores.

His professional affiliations include memberships to the North American Nature Photography Association, Canon CPS, and Editorial Photographers (EP).

Jay teaches about four small-group workshops a year in some of this world’s most amazing locations. He is also an instructor for Art Wolfe Workshops.

When Jay is not traveling the world he spends time with his wife Heather, their daughter Jade, son Micah, and their trusty Samoyed Anya.

You could view more of his work on the web at:

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