Jake Giles Netter

I have a surprise for you. And even not a musical one. It’s time for photography! I’d like to present you an amazing photographer Jake Giles Netter from California. He is smart, creative and inspiring. Jake’s shots are charming. The world must know about him! Enjoy this meaningful interview.

Julija: Jake, introduce yourself!

Jake:Hello world. My name is Jake Giles Netter. I’m 24 years of age and I am a photographic gun for hire. I am currently residing in Taichung, Taiwan for the time being, but am a California boy through and through.

J: When did you become interested in photography?

J: I became interested in photography at a very early age. Some of my earliest memories of my mother were of her with a camera in hand. The same with my grandmother as a matter of fact. Both were extremely passionate about photography, but neither ended up pursuing it, my mother becoming a model, and my grandmother starting a school of all things. Photography has always been in my bloodlines, but I am the first to really tackle it as a profession.

I became passionate about photography however in high school when I was 16. I up to that point had only really taken photography classes as throw-away electives, and wasn’t really one to take school seriously in general, let alone any classes where I was being told how to be creative. I was pretty much a normal uninspired semi-apathetic teen in high school in that respect. When I was 16 however, after recently transfering schools, I walked into a new photography class and noticed a poster on the teacher’s wall of Man Ray’s famous shot of “Larmes Tears”, and my entire view of photography and art was changed forever.

The subtle beauty of that shot, and just the emotion that it made me feel was unlike anything I had ever gotten from art in general before. I stared at that poster every single day that year, starting out each and every class, and the fire was lit. I became an obsessive scholar of photography, devouring every photographic book I could get my hands on. Trying to figure out each photographer’s eye. Trying to psychologically evaluate (for lack of a better phrase) each photographer. Trying to figure out why each photographer shot in the style that they did, why they chose certain perspectives over others. I began studying the lives of the classic photographers, Helmut Newton, Mary Ellen Mark, Henri Cartier-Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, etc. and tried to relate what they experienced in their lives to their views of the world, and the ways that they shot and the ways that they chose to express themselves in their photography. I learned far more about my craft and how to take pictures by my own obsessive photographic consumption than I ever did in school (unfortunately).

J: Third question, very short one, why photography?

J: Quite simply it’s the only thing that I am really passionate that I am good at! Haha. Unfortunately. I am obsessed with music, but I can’t play anything. I used to write a lot, and wanted to be a screenwriter, but I never found the pen (at least in my own hands) to be as effective of a weapon than the single image. There’s something about the act of telling a story with a single image that intrigues me  (and drives me a little fucking mad at the same time.)

J: If I‘m right, photography is not only your passion, but also a job, too?

J: Photography at the moment does pay my bills. I am currently dabbling a bit in the field of videography though, testing it out with the current project I am working on, but photography is truelly my passion. Even before I was able to do it as my profession though I was always shooting (which is the best advice I can give to anyone wanting to go into this business. I happened to hit a period where I became somewhat disenfranchised with the photography business, and just got caught up in the frustrations of being an “up-and-coming” freelance photographer, and became inspired to just go out and keep shooting (while holding odd jobs in the interim) instead of directly pursuing it as a profession. This period of disenfranchisement however inspired my “Children of the Golden State” project (www.childrenofthegoldenstate.com), and if anything gave me an outlet to further push my photography into various realms of experimentation that the business doesn’t naturally allow you to explore. The worst thing in my opinion that anyone could do pursuing photography, or pursuing anything for that matter, is to really attack the dream before you have really figured out who you yourself are, or what makes your photography your own. I have seen way too many truelly talented photographers chase it too early and get caught up in the fold, or get chewed up and spit out before their chance is really afforded them for that specific reason.

J: What are you doing when you‘re not taking photos?

J: I am either surfing, travelling, listening to music, seeing live shows, or managing bands. I am an obsessive vinyl collector (or have been addicted for the last 2 years at least). I have a serious problem in that sense. The fact that there aren’t any respectable record shops in Taichung however is really helping me work on my addiction. I also have a serious problem with collecting cameras. They don’t even always have to be functional. There’s something I find very interesting about owning a camera that used to belong to some other unknown faceless party. I love the fact that you have no way of knowing the brilliance that may have come out of that camera before you laid your hands on it. There’s a subtle beauty to that that inspires me.

J: Which forms of photography do you like the most? Why?

J: That’s a hard question to answer. I have been afforded the luxury of having been able to work in many different factions of photography so that’s a difficult one to nail on the head. I love people however. People in general inspire me more than anything. I am a true believer in the notion of photography being able to steal one’s souls (if you approach it correctly). For that reason I would say impromptu portraiture based photography/street photography would be my favorite. Shot on film of course.

J: Where and what was the most exciting shoot for you?

J: By far the most exciting shoot I have ever done was last year’s Matador at 21 festival. I was lucky enough to have been chosen to be their head photographer at that event and was given an all access pass and it just happened to be a whirlwind weekend. 25+ bands in 3 days/nights in Las Vegas at the fucking Palms, with various open bars, and most of the nights of shows not ending until 4 or 5 in the morning at a once in a lifetime event. If I could pinpoint any weekend that could have shaved a few years off of my life expectancy it was probably that weekend. There was something unreal about being onstage with Sonic Youth and Pavement taking their pictures. I can also thank that festival for getting me my first piece in the LA Times which was a childhood dream of mine. That whole experience was very special to me. You can check out my full coverage from that event at http://www.flickr.com/photos/matadorat21/

J: A good photographer is.. ?

J: Versatile, and able to approach each shoot, project, show, what have you with the humility to know that they know absolutely nothing. Each experience you have and are afforded to be able to shoot is and will always be different. It’s the photographers that never get too comfortable that always seem to be the greatest. That’s why I have soo much respect for war photographers. They are the most literal examples of this. If they get too comfortable during any shoot, they die. I feel that to be the case in any gig however (but obviously not in as literal a sense).

J: Do you collaborate with other photographers?

J: I am a huge proponent of constantly collaborating with other photographers. I love nothing more than working with other people on projects. Every photographer has their own eye, and sees situations, people, objects, places, etc. differently. I love that. Nearly every assistant I use on my personal shoots as well are up-and-coming photographers who I have mutual respect for and collaborate with. I’d say everything I shoot (minus live shows) are a collaboration of some sort though. With the models I shoot with. With the artist’s I profile. With the stylists I work with. Everything is steeped in an air of collaboration.

J: So now you are tripping through Asia. Could you tell more about this journey? For what occasion you went there? What countries you‘ve already visited? Where  are you staying now? Finally, what are you doing there?

J: All I can say is that this is a hell of a journey. I am currently living and working throughout Asia, shooting behind-the-scenes stills on Ang Lee’s new movie, “Life of Pi” as well as filming the making-of documentary of said film on my 7d. I have so far worked in India and Taiwan (which I am currently residing/stuck in) on this film, but having been taking every chance that I can get to explore while I am “Lost in Asia”. I have only really been able to stray away to Singapore for a brief period outside of the countries I have been working, which was in itself a trip and a half, but am looking forward to travelling to Tokyo and Hong Kong in the near future whenever I can spare a weekend.

J: Are you missing California? What are your plans when you‘re back?

J: I am thoroughly missing California, but I am beyond thankful that I have been given this oppurtunity, and am making the most of it. I have experienced so much in such a short amount of time while out here that I don’t really know what it will be like, or what I will be like for that matter when I return. My eyes have been soo opened by everything that I have seen that it’s all pretty hard to fathom. I do miss my family a lot though. And my dog. I really miss my dog! (Thanks Ma for taking care of him, if you ever read this).

My plans are all pretty much up in the air when I make it back. I had the luxury of throwing all of my belongings in storage before I left so I am no longer constrained to a specific locale when I return. I may move up to San Francisco for some time. I may move out to New York for a period. I may just move to Venice Beach. I may keep travelling. I may even go on tour. Who knows?

I do plan however on attempting to finish my Children of the Golden State project in the near future, and continuing to expand my artist collective I am working on, We Are the Wolves at Your Door (www.wolvesatyourdoor.com) and to further explore videography. Whatever the case may be, I am excited for the future.

In conclusion, this is the first interview I have ever been asked to do. I hope it didn’t suck, and I didn’t ramble too much! I am truelly honoured to have been asked to be interviewed and to be a part of the content on this awesome blog. Thank you again, Miss Julie!

Keep Shooting.

-Jake Giles Netter

Jake’s shots:

Thank you so much, Jake! I’m glad to know you and hope that in the nearest future we can organise some really great shoots together!