Jason Fenmore is a professional DJ Photographer, who in the last few years discovered his passion for photographing waves and the people who ride them.
"I first fell in love with the ocean at a very young age. I have bodyboarded all of my life, but later on, realized I had no proof of my experiences, I chose to begin photographing my favourite beaches.
Tell us a little about yourself, where are you based and how did you get into photography?
Hey, I'm Jason but most people know me as "Oh Dag Yo". I grew up in Los Angeles and started photography in High School the old fashioned way. We had a full lab for developing and printing our photos and as someone who was passionate about art, I found it intriguing to be able to develop and print my own photos. By senior year I was mostly photographing my friends skateboarding and small local bands, but I didn't really have a direction I knew I wanted to go with my photography. Fast forward many years later, I began shooting again and while attending a music festival, I thought "wow I wonder if photographing this sort of thing can be a job and if so, where do I apply?". I began asking around, trying to find anyone who knew someone who could introduce me to the person who could get me into festivals with my camera. Eventually, I met my no good friend Dino, who broke the ice for me in the DJ world and now I've been photographing DJ's and music festivals professionally for almost 9 years. But that wasn't enough, as time went on I felt my job wasn't challenging me anymore and I needed more. When I discovered Zak Noyle on Instagram, a new world opened up to me. I was fascinated with the idea of taking a camera in the ocean and photographing surfers and waves. And being I wasn't the best bodyboarder, this was an excuse to keep me in the ocean without feeling like a kook.
DJ photographer and surf photographer is an interesting mix, most people are aware of the challenges of shooting in the ocean, what are some of the obstacles/challenges you face capturing DJ's?
In a funny way, there are a lot of similar challenges within the two. Photographer etiquette is a big thing, whether its on stage, in a photo pit or in the lineup. Getting the shot without other photographers ruining you your shot is VERY difficult, especially in the last few years with the EDM industry booming, there are A LOT more photographers and videographers. Another similar challenge just like photographing in the ocean is timing and lighting. Photographing DJ's is almost always in very low light and constantly changing light. Lights can go black right when you need them most. And most people say "well isn't that what the Speedlite on your camera is for?" Well, yes and no. Ideally, I'd prefer to never use my Speedlite so that the lighting always appears natural, but sometimes you don't have a choice and its those quick decisions that can change everything about your photo. Lastly, one of the biggest challenges when capturing DJ's, just like any other subject, is finding a "new" and fresh way to photograph them.
What is the most challenging part about being a photographer for you?
Being satisfied with my own work.
How often do you travel and your favourite place away from home that you have photographed?
With photographing DJ's I travel a fair amount, but sadly this kind of work is so fast-paced. Sometimes Im only in a country for 12 hours before I leave for the next show. 2019 I'm looking to do a lot more travelling just for fun and allowing me more time to adventure and photograph new places. One of my favourite places I've been to so far was definitely Australia and I plan to return very soon.
What would you say is your most significant achievement to date?
Starting up my website and selling my wave photography. I love being able to know my art gets to hang on someone's walls and that they can connect with the images I've created.
What have you been working on recently?
Recently I've been focusing on selling my work more than anything else. But you can still find me out in the water as long as there's a sunrise or sunset.
What equipment do you shoot with currently?
I shoot with the Canon 1DX2 and 5D3, soon to upgrade to the 4. I also like to shoot video with my iPhone 8+ inside Aquatech's AxisGo. While I have a variety of lenses, I mostly use the 70-200mm 2.8ii, 16-35mm 2.8ii and 8-15mm fisheye.
If you could only take one camera and lens on your next surf photography job, what will be your go to set up to get the job done?
I'm the most indecisive person when it comes to choosing what lens to use. Not a day goes by where I don't hop in the water and immediately say "I should have brought ____ lens instead"
But if I had to choose, I'd go with the 70-200mm 2.8ii on the 1DX2
Your dream project?
I would love to be able to take a year off from work and only travel to photograph waves around the world.
Your biggest inspirations?
Oh, man that's a loaded question, where do I even start? Some of the first guys that really inspired me were Zak Noyle, Warren Keelan, Philip Thurston, Russell Ord, Ray Collins, Ben Thouard, Corey Wilson, Sacha Specker and so many others. Plus a lot of super talented local photographers in OC that I'm lucky to now call my friends like Sonny Kumukoa, Zac Milan, Jordan Stempson, Larry Beard, Craig Larson and many more.
Best photography advice/tip that you have been given?
My good friend Devin once told me, stop composing the image through your viewfinder and look at the whole scene in front of you, let your eyes find what you want to focus on before you look through your viewfinder. This tip stuck with me to this day. I find myself staring at a scene long enough that I notice things I wouldn't have noticed before and those things help bring together my composition for the shot.
However, one of my favourite and best tips I've been given came from Zak Noyle. One day I was asking Zak about a tech issue and his response was "figure it out, keep trying different things till it works". While I was annoyed that he wouldn't just answer my question, I'm thankful he made me do the hard work myself. It made me learn about my camera and discover my own way of capturing an image. I find nowadays it's very common for photographers to just want direct answers to "how do I do this" or "what settings can do that", but as an artist, you can't grow and truly learn your craft if someone just gives you the answers. So thank you, Zak, for making me get my hands dirty and figure it out for myself!