Video: World Oceans Day

June 8th was World Oceans Day. It was a day to come together on issues facing the health of our ocean. This year the theme was “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet” and I made a video that offers some tips for how everyone can help keep the ocean healthy.

I am planning to do several videos in this series to offer actionable steps for issues facing our planet. Conservation of our planet, our ecosystems and species is critical and a story I want to tell, but I want this to be storytelling with a purpose. I want it to be storytelling with impact. I hope you will feel empowered to make a difference after watching this video.

 

 

Southwest Virginia

I have gotten to travel to a few beautiful places this year and I have been remiss in uploading photos I made while in Hawaii and France, so I will do that soon! In the meantime, here are some of the images I made while on a road trip through the southwestern part of Virginia. Fall was just starting to turn the leaves and there are some beautiful trails there.

Snapshots – Racing the Dawn

The sun begins to rise over a corn field in Buford, Georgia. July, 2009.

The sun begins to rise over a corn field in Buford, Georgia. July, 2009.

Tonight, I have been looking through my archives. I was searching for some images of a friend from about 6 years ago, tabbing through camera raw files in a folder of non-selects, when this image popped up. The image was a snapshot. I didn’t take any other images like it. Just a single frame, snapped on the side of the road while heading home one morning.

Snapshots are pure magic; they come together on their own. You don’t work a scene to get one, you are just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, pointing your camera at the beauty laid out before you.

 

As I look through my archives, I will post more snapshots that capture everyday magic. Here is why I posted this one:

What I like about it:

I like the way my eye runs in the grass down the length of the fence. I love the warm sunrise light washing over a hemisphere of green. I like the slight haze and the fog burning in the background. This image really puts you in the place.

What this image means to me:

This image represents memories of southern summers at home spent irresponsibly and nights with friends that play on a loop in these digital universes. The image is quiet and serene, but full of anticipation as to what the new day will bring.

 

Tell me what you think! Do you love it or think it’s just okay? What does this image portray to you?

 

 

Winter in DC

I am not one who is usually enthusiastic about cold weather, and most free days during the winter months, you won’t catch me outside. However, today was a beautiful day, and not even the single-digit temperatures could keep me from venturing out to shoot in the DC winter wonderland.

I convinced Jon to join me and it became a true adventure. We went down to the Chain Bridge and found the Potomac river to be covered in slushy snow. The ice was warped and full of ridges, where the current was flowing fast beneath the icy crust. We wandered the woods around the bank and shot frozen waterfalls and blue pools of ice, gleaming in the filtered forest light.

We then made our way to the C&O canal, where I had hoped to find the illusive skaters I had heard can be found on the frozen canal after a few days of freezing weather. As we crossed over the end of Chain Bridge, we saw them! We drove down, about a mile, to park at Fletcher’s Boat House and enjoy the scenic walk back up to meet the skaters. The white, frozen water, sugar-coated with snow, looked especially beautiful against a cloudless-blue-sky and stark white birch trees.

Jon soon tested the canal and found it was frozen-through! We ventured out to play on the ice for just a bit before continuing down the path to find the skaters. Just after the Chain Bridge overpass, we saw them. There were hopeful figure skaters, a few friends playing hockey, and even a family with a dog picnicking on the ice. We shot some photos and played on the ice ourselves for a while before heading back down to return to the car.

All in all, it was a perfect winter day in DC- one of those days, where you feel the magic of life. It was a day where we didn’t feel cold, despite being 11 degrees out. It was a day where we could fully appreciate the land and the life before us. I think the photos reflect that, too.

How to Plan a Photo Adventure and New York Portfolio Review

On October 4th, my husband and I were wed. We had debated back and forth about where to go (and how much we could afford to spend) on our honeymoon. However, there was one place that was on the top of both of our bucket lists, and we just had to make it happen as our first big adventure together as ‘man and wife.’ So we planned a three-week-long photo trip/honeymoon to New Zealand! I will be sharing some photos from the trip soon, but I wrote a post for National Geographic’s Your Shot blog about how to plan a photo adventure around your honeymoon or vacation, which you can read here: http://yourshotblog.nationalgeographic.com/post/110110587429/planning-a-picture-perfect-adventure-jen-shook

I have been braving the DC cold and working on a couple of shoots to keep making photos. I have also been using the cold weather as an excuse to stay indoors and go back through my photos. There is an open call for photo submissions to the Third Annual New York Portfolio Review (sponsored by the New York Times Lens blog) and the deadline is February 11, but I would love to be accepted and want to learn more about becoming a better storyteller. If you’re interested in submitting for the review, here is the link: http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/apply-to-the-new-york-portfolio-review-part-iii/?module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Multimedia&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs®ion=Body&_r=0

I’m still very much in my own head planning some goals, doing research, learning, examining my work, working out ways to make better stories. I will post some new photos, soon!

 

 

Meeting of the Minds

Every January, hundreds of National Geographic photographers’ paths all converge in Washington, DC to attend a series of photography events, one of them being the National Geographic Magazine Photography Seminar. It’s an exclusive event, with standing room only, as some of the best photographers in the world settle into seats to learn from each others’ experiences and personal tests in photography.

For me, it’s an event that always reignites a sense of awe and appreciation for the power of photography and encourages me to turn my focus more towards it. There is also the added bonus of 1000 “star-struck” moments with photographers I have idolized since I was a teenager.

I love the different approach each photographer brings to the table. Lynn Johnson, named last year’s “Photographers’ Photographer” especially stood out to me. She takes herself completely out of the equation. She is not afraid to admit she struggles and considers herself a “collector” of images. She noted,”My entire life is hiding and then leaving.”

I also got the opportunity to join a National Geographic Your Shot meetup with Jim Richardson (named the 2015 Photographers’ Photographer) in Lafayette Park. The walk was great and it was nice to be out shooting with other local photographers, as well as get some insight from Jim on how much he researches before going into the field to shoot. He told me that he almost always spends one day researching per one day of shooting. It gave me a lot to think about in regards to planning out the story and was an interesting contrast to Lynn’s style.

After the walk, we returned to hear from all six of the photographers who lead walks that morning. It felt really wonderful to hear them talk about the power we as a photography community and as individuals hold.

Needless to say, it was quite an inspirational week, and I intend to keep the momentum going.

National Geographic Your Shot Assignment: Behind the Adventure

Back in November, I went to Banff National Park in Canada to attend the Banff Mountain Film Festival and run logistics for our National Geographic team. It was an absolutely beautiful place with abundant wildlife and 360 degrees of gorgeous views. You should absolutely go if you ever have the opportunity!

Let's Explore! The National Geographic Logo at the Banff Mountain Center in Banff National Park, Canada. November 2014.

Let’s Explore! The National Geographic Logo at the Banff Mountain Center in Banff National Park, Canada. November 2014.

I also got the opportunity to participate in and help a little with a National Geographic Your Shot Meetup there, led by Jimmy Chin – a fantastic photographer who is also one of our grantees. We held a photo walk to lead up to the Behind the Adventure Your Shot assignment. I shared some of the images I took during the walk on my Your Shot profile, so go check them out there. While you’re there check out the assignment Behind the Adventure. The assignment video features some of my photos (!) and offers some tips about shooting the assignment.

You still have time to submit to a really fun story assignment. The assignment closes on January 12th, so go start digging through photos of your greatest adventures and start the year out on a high note!

Quick Update for the New Year

Happy New Year! I hope you are as excited about the prospects of a new year as I am. This past year was simply incredible. I traveled extensively for work, married my husband, went on an epic photography trip a.k.a honeymoon and created a lot of cool content. The only problem is that I haven’t shared any of that with you. I received my snazzy snapshot of my site and blogs posted in 2014 and I had posted only three… how pathetic. However, I am feeling fresh, energized and creative and intend to correct that.

At the turn of the new year, I always get lost in my head for a few weeks contemplating the previous year’s successes and failures, what my goals for the new year are, am I working towards my goals for five or ten years from now? It is a great time, but it can be hard to move past the thoughts and get some things accomplished.

Well, I am proud to say that I have really gotten some things accomplished in these past six days. For example, I stopped procrastinating about figuring out my sewing machine – which I have done for almost two years. I sat it down in front of the TV and YouTube’d my way into sewing four pillow inserts. I also took down every photo frame in my house and recreated my gallery photo wall in my living room to incorporate the photos my husband and I took on our trips to Ireland and New Zealand. I also went hiking, got a library card and subsequently library books, got a “Wunderlist” account to keep on track with my goals and planned out at least three new blog posts.

What do all of these non-photography related things have in common? Action! I am a NOTORIOUS procrastinator, as you must know, however I am really trying to make a lifestyle change here and be proactive. Life is more fun that way. So this is just a quick update to say that I will be putting out more blogs this year. My goal is to do at least one a week with the intention of being more mindful about my passion. Wishing you a wonderful new year with many thanks for your support!

All the best,

Jen