Inspiration can many times come from the darkest of places. From trauma, death, loss, heartbreak. Jason’s (jDesjardins) world was destroyed in 2010 and was living life like a zombie until he one day woke up from his living coma. He decided to go on an adventure in search for the beauty that still existed in the world. Through his journey he used photography as a way to release his pain – his own kind of therapy. His images are a reflection of his soul and the story of his life.

Do you see what I see... by JDesjardins

Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

I grew up in small town Truro, Nova Scotia Canada, moving to Inuvik Northwest Territories for some of my teenage years. I now reside in Calgary Alberta and have for around 12 years. My photography is all self taught with the help of a few people on the way. I have owned a DSLR camera for about 3 years now and it has really helped change my outlook on life. I have shot landscape for 3 years and portraiture for a little over a year. I love to travel; a lot of my shots are travel landscape shot on the run.

Photography is my hobby and passion. I work for a food service supplier and drive a forklift for my day job, and have for 10 years. I’m a pretty laidback person and love life, maybe someday I will pursue a career in photography if my skill level gets to that point. I still have a lot to learn and push myself to do better and learn with every shot.

Elegant throwback by JDesjardins

When did you first think about becoming a photographer?

The first time I was handed a camera was as child. However, it wasn’t until the year 2000 in my early 20’s I got mote into photography after I had gotten a Canon Powershot A40 from my mother for Christmas and had a lot of fun playing around with it. Life got in the way anyhow and nothing materialized until about eleven years later. It was something I always enjoyed even as a child, I don’t think I ever wanted to become a photographer, it was just something that came naturally to me and something I loved. It found me again in time when I needed it the most.

BulgfEnJoc by JDesjardins

Where do you get your photographic inspiration from?

What I’m about to say here isn’t run of the mill and isn’t sunshine and rainbows. My family and I had something very tragic happen to us and my first cousin who was my kid brother Ben was murdered in July of 2010. That being said; my world was destroyed. I had been living my life like a walking zombie until that point.... something inside me snapped and woke me up, I began traveling a lot and doing whatever I could to find myself and remind myself that there was still beauty left in this world. My heart and spirit were broken, I was dwelling on something I had no control over. I began traveling and throughout my travels I started seeing really beautiful things and places and started taking photos, and I found it very therapeutic. It took me on an adventure within my adventure – it gave me peace of mind. It helped release my pain and made me really happy – I had found an outlet.

I purchased a DSLR and it has been a wonderful learning curve since. It’s helped me capture some of the most peaceful, beautiful, unbelievable, mysterious, sad and happiest moments of my life since my tragedy. We all have a story and I am not downplaying anyone else’s misfortune in life. I loved him more than I hate what happened; so from that I have been the most inspired and have captured life. I wish all of you the same inspiration; let your passion be your influence and your outlet. I hope you enjoy my story, what you see in my photos is a reflection of my soul.

The city is alive... by JDesjardins

Do you have any influencers?

I do have influences, mostly people in my immediate world too. Kenneth Locke is an amazing local photographer who has shown me a lot of valuable tips for shooting portraiture. He turned down a $2000 sale and instead sold me all of my gear and sent me home with a $30 book (The Photo Book by Phaidon - if this doesn’t inspire you, nothing will). Frank Calesso who is a friend and fellow Viewbug member is the one who actually turned me onto the site and has always pushed me in the right direction with my photography by sharing years of knowledge and always being brutally honest with me which has really made me step my game up. Jared Polin from FroKnowsPhoto on Youtube! Very inspiring and hilarious to watch and provides very positive energy to the world of photography. My friend Tom Sing, another Viewbug member, has shot for years and has taken me to some of his favorite spots I never would have found on my own that are breathtaking. My most reputed shot was actually taken from the passenger seat of Tom’s vehicle. My uncle Dennis who has shot some awesome inspiring photos over the years that I liked looking at and who has always supported my photography.

I can’t say enough about the inspiration I’ve gotten from fellow Viewbug members also. You have all been a godsend. There is a lot of creativity and skill and fellow members and people are always willing to help others. Also, many books and years of digging through old slides and photos in my grand parents attic has been a major inspiration too. Lastly, my cousin Ben Hare, a fellow artist who always pushed me to step up my game a notch. Someone that always seen the beauty in everything and loved life, he is always with me in spirit and pushed me to go that extra mile when I couldn’t walk another step, to wait out that extra hour when my eyes were ready to close and to embrace what I was passionate about from leading by example.

Fallen angel by JDesjardins

What is your favorite subject to shoot?

My favorite subject to shoot is becoming people. Everyone is so different and beautiful in his or her own way. I do like the peace of being alone outdoors shooting landscape, but the look on someone’s face when they see a magical shot you’ve captured of them is priceless. Combining landscape and portraiture with an outdoor portrait is second to none, it give you the best of both worlds.

Lonely Road by JDesjardins

What is your favorite gear to shoot with?

Nikon D810 and 24-70 2.8 Nikkor... but I did purchase a Sigma 50mm 1.4 art and it is growing on me. I just want a lot wider but did really miss having a prime until I got it. My old favorite lens to shoot with was my Tamron 11-16 2.8 but I sold it when I went full frame because I don’t use my brain sometimes, great lens and gigantic regret for me selling 1t.

Plumeria by JDesjardins

When you go in one of your travels, what do you take with you? Why?

I used to take everything I owned in case I needed something and didn’t have it, That became quickly a pain. It made my photography sloppy where I was spending most of my time fumbling around with gear instead of shooting. Now I pack light and carry only 3 batteries, my body Nikon D810, 50mm 1.4 sigma art, 24-70 2.8 Nikkor and 70-200 2.8 Nikkor. A variable 10 storp neutral density filter, a circular polarizer, a wireless shutter release, manfroto tripod with a photo/video head, some cleaning supplies, 10 32gb memory cards, rain sleeves and a Nikon SB 910 flash. All in a Lowepro Flipside 400AW bag. I carry the lens range for versatility but tend to try to stick to one lens if possible. Tripod is a necessity and filters come in handy a lot depending on what you are shooting.

Paradise falls by JDesjardins

How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?

I ask as many questions as humanly possible to other photographers, I watch a lot of online tutorials and do a lot of reading about it. The best way to learn is from just going and shooting and making errors and learning from them, then you know what questions to ask and can grasp it all a lot easier. I look at other photographers work and see what they did and find the strength in their photos. Also, negative criticism is fantastic education and fuels my fire where positive criticism makes it burn brighter. I am open and in acceptance of both but will always put my passion first over opinion. I also read a lot of the tutorials form other photographers on ViewBug.

Sheltering her young from the rain. by JDesjardins

What it is you want to say with your photographs?

Find the beauty in the small things but don’t hone in on them too much and forget to look at the whole big picture. Capture life, capture beauty, let it be your outlet and don’t get too deep into it that you forget to breathe. Smile and shoot some pictures with the worlds best two cameras: your own eyes. Everything and everyone is beautiful in their own way, capture their essence – capture their life force. Set yourself free and enjoy the adventure, live.

At one with the night. by JDesjardins

How do you actually get your photographs to do that?

Compose the shot well with depth and an interesting subject. I shoot RAW to give myself some leeway with exposure when post processing. I bracket to give myself multiple exposures. Shoot manual settings, do not let the camera decide the fate of your photo. I make sure to try to find depth in what I’m framing within the shot. I use Lightroom and tonality and a little Photoshop when post processing. I use Photomatix for my HDR if I don’t merge them in Photoshop. If I’m working with bracketed photos sometimes I will edit them a bit before I merge them as opposed to doing it after. I relax and enjoy the moment and try to have fun with it, take a quick mental shot before introducing the camera. I try to make sure the basics are covered; making sure the horizon is level and leaving myself some room in the frame to crop some. Being self-taught, a lot of my work has been trial and error (mostly error), but what better way to learn than to go do something.

Close call... by JDesjardins

B&W or color, what do you prefer and why?

I love both black and white and color but my strength is in my black and white photos, they are moody like me and I seem to be able to create the most depth with them and make the photo more interesting. They make the ordinary extraordinary, and I like using my imagination.

To see more of Jason's photos, visit his profile.