Photos, photos, everywhere! We snap and post, like and share, have access to literally millions of stock photos to upload as screensavers or drop into newsletters all while being enticed with vivid eye-catching photos online and in social media designed to excite, entice and stimulate us to purchase, engage or get involved. I Googled “photographs of sailboats in the sunset”, and while it didn’t give me a number, the scroll went on and on and on… we are not at a loss for maritime photos to be sure. We can find or take any photo we want.
And then we walk by the Annapolis Collection Gallery and see a stunning and moody photograph by Jay Fleming of watermen working on a boat in the mist and it speaks to us in an entirely different way from all of the online media-mania.
What’s the difference? It is fine art. Fine art photography, or photographic art, takes our experience to the next level. It doesn’t just document a scene; it provides a story in itself. What sets true fine art photography apart is that its purpose is aesthetic, to present the beauty and spirit of the subject. You don’t just see it, you feel it.
Here in Annapolis, we are graced with some of the best fine art photographers in the region who have succeeded in presenting a unique view into the world of the challenging and beautiful Chesapeake Bay area. Jay Fleming is at the top of that list.
Jay’s first and newly published book, Working the Water, has been flying off the shelves since its release in October and is almost completely sold out. People who knew of his work lined up to buy it, and people who were discovering him for the first time realized the instant they looked in the window or opened the book what a terrific artist this young photographer is.
I’ve been getting to know Jay who, at age 29, may appear to be somewhat of an overnight success. And while his book did catapult him into the spotlight, this artist took no shortcuts to reach success.
Jay started young and at the age of 14 won an award for a photograph used by the Environmental Protection Agency, a huge milestone. When he got his first car and was old to enough to make his own decisions about what to do with his spare time, he wasn’t out partying – he was out shooting photographs and exploring. His photographs are a testament to the time he has spent developing his craft and exploring his subjects. He also has the successful mix of creativity and business sense, and knows what he is doing and where he is headed.
Since his photographs speak for themselves, I wanted to interview Jay about his projects, specifically his book, and his next project. We met at his new studio on Cathedral Street, where he was packing up boxes and boxes of books ordered by customers who know a good gift when they see one.