Joey is one of the chillest people I know – And his photos blow me away…
I was thrilled to catch him on a break from climbing mountains to get this interview, so I could learn more about the artist side of the guy who’s marrying my niece next year. Here’s our conversation.
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Which means your photographs already say so much about you, Joey. It also means that this is a great opportunity to learn more. Can you first share a bit about how you came to love photography and your background?
I grew up in Northern California in a family that loved to get outdoors. Whether it was fishing, camping, or just barbecuing, we spent a lot of our time outside with others. This instilled a love for nature and being able to share that space with the people in my life. Photography was something my grandfather was a natural at, but it came to me before I even knew he had a passion for it when he was a young adult. I didn’t really start to shoot consistently and develop my own style until I was a sophomore in college. From there it inspired me to pursue more remote places. Documenting and sharing my experiences with my friends and family then became my routine.
D – I for one appreciate that you share such amazing things with us through your lens, and how special is that to discover your grandfather enjoyed the same thing.
Obviously, you have a love for the adventurous life and the outdoors. But besides that, what inspired you to make it your preferred genre?
I realized that every time I’d reach the city limit, breathing in the fresh mountain air and finding a sense of solitude, I would feel a sense of good energy rush over me. Simply put, at this stage in my life, I got happier when I could escape the chaos within the city.
Engaging in the kind of epic art you do, it must be hard to focus on the business end of things. I know for me, I could hide away and write all day long. But it doesn’t pay the bills. What are the top three tips you can share to help creators balance their passion in art with other aspects of life?
Honestly, I’m still not very good at selling myself regarding my art. However, I have always worked hard with various jobs I’ve held to allow me to continue doing what makes me happy. I’d say it should be a big priority to take the time to reflect on why you do the things you do. Spend time creating the space to really think about the why. Once you can find a strong reason, it is easier to make the choices that set you up for success.
It has been a lot of fun watching you and Ana taking all those steps and finding your niche while you’re young.
The kind of photographs you take require being in the right place at the right time. What are your tips and preferred techniques for getting those great shots?
Do what others are not willing to do. It’s not my phrase, but it’s something I’ve seen ring true more times than not. More specifically, if you put yourself in good positions to get those perfect conditions by hiking through the night or waking up before the sun, you’ll be provided with more opportunities to get a great photo.
D – I love that you have a passion for film cameras. Can you tell us about your favorite equipment? How much do you haul around trying to get those shots? Does Leo help out? Sorry, but I had to get a mention in for your awesome German Shepherd, whom I’ve known since he was a pup.
I’ve always focused more on the action of taking the photos and not on the gear I use to get there. That being said I use a Leica M6 primarily for 35mm film and a Pentax 67 for 120mm film (medium format film). Leo doesn’t help much, it’s a surprise I don’t charge him rent at this point haha.
You’re originally from California, and explored the beauty of that state and the surrounding ones extensively with your camera. What compelled you to make your home in the Pacific Northwest? Are there other parts of the country… or the world you’d like to explore?
I needed a change from where I was living. My fiancé(Ana) and I were living in Sacramento California, but we were constantly traveling north to Oregon and Washington. We both decided it would be fun to simply pick up and move. Not a whole lot more thought went into it at that time. Just a spontaneous choice that left us very happy.
As far as other parts of the world, I’d love to see as much as I can in my life. Scotland and Ireland are higher on the list because of mine and Ana’s family history there.
D. I’ve experienced that kind of spontaneous move myself, and often it’s the best kind. Still, I’ve never been to Washington State, and that’s another reason I enjoy your photos. But I will come for a visit and a tour one of these days haha. I sincerely hope you get to travel abroad with my niece someday… And though I’ve said it in person, congratulations on your upcoming marriage!
What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?
Attempting to climb Mt. Tahoma (Rainier) and learning a lot about the mental toughness it takes to document the experience while being fairly uncomfortable.
D – I love that. Can you share a little more about what you took away from the experience?
Yeah, it was one of those experiences that shows you how much you don’t know, the more you know haha. Basically being physically fit is only a small percentage of climbs like Rainier. The rest is about maintaining a positive outlook when setting up camp in the snow, the sun is going down, and your beginning to get weary of how cold you’ve gotten. Thankfully I have amazing friends with more experience and who were able to show me little tricks to make life smoother out there.
What are you most excited about in the next year?
I plan to race my first Ultra marathon this year, along with a few others soon after. I’ve developed a love for all forms of movement in the mountains. Running and climbing are simply amazing, and they’ve taken over my life haha.
D – It shows in your photographs. Wow! All the best in those endeavors.
Where do you want to be as a photographer in five years?
I’ve come to learn that I’m happy just having a camera around and not taking it too seriously. I decided not to worry whether or not I make a living with photography, but rather just to enjoy it for what it is. A passion.
D – I am truly happy that you get to follow your passion freely. Again, it shows in your work.
Do you offer your art commercially? If so, where can we find it?
I have a print shop where I occasionally add new photos too. I’d like to open a new selection this year and use the funds to donate for ALS research. My lifelong friend’s mother has bulbar ALS and has been showing immense strength in her fight against it. That shop will be available through my website at joeymaclennanphoto.com
D – That is another wonderful reason to follow Joey and watch for those photos. Where can we find you besides your website?
Instagram is basically my only other online presence. That is @joeymaclennan
Any parting advice to those who dream about pursuing a creative and/or an adventurous life?
Get outside, care about the environment, and don’t be afraid to fail in pursuit of things that make you feel alive.
D – Great advice! Thank so much for dropping by, Joey.
Thanks for talking with me!