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Jered Gorman: Seattle’s Puddlegram Master

Jered Gorman: Seattle’s Puddlegram Master by Bridgette S.

Bridgette’s Intro

The Instagramers Seattle’s monthly feature will celebrate it’s 1 year anniversary next month.  I can still remember my first interview with Tony like it happened yesterday.  What I love about these articles is that I get to learn more about a local photographer.  Like I said in my very first feature, there’s SO much talent here in the Pacific Northwest – it’s unreal! : )

For this month’s showcase I chose Jered Gorman.  Why?  Well, I’ll tell you why.  I haven’t really had the chance to meet him in person yet but appreciate his interaction within the Igers Seattle community.  Not only are his shots fantastic, he seems like an all around cool guy.  And, a family man to boot.  His feed isn’t over the top and he shoots what he sees, no weirdness (even though he thinks his gallery is weird – don’t know why!), just pure photography.

In the end, I think photographers like Jered should be noted.  As I always say, being a part of our community is about having the whole package.  It isn’t only about the numbers but about personality too!

We are in the midst of planning a family meetup this month and I hope he and his family get to join us.  It would be great to meet the man behind the photos.

Jered, thanks again for being a part of our monthly feature!

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B:  So tell us, Jered, are you originally from Seattle?  What do you do for work and what’s family life like?  How long have you been on Instagram?

J:  First off I would like to say that I’m thankful that you took enough interest in my weird cell phone pictures to highlight my little instagram feed. You are exposed to a multitude of truly talented mobile photographers on a daily basis, so that really means a lot, B. Thank you.

I am not originally from Seattle. The whereabouts of my upbringing make for kind of a long story, but here goes. I was born in Seoul and shortly thereafter moved to Portland, then my family quickly relocated to Exeter, NH, then we were off to the Netherlands for a year. My father worked for Nike almost from its inception, so we basically moved wherever shoes were being made at the time. After Holland we were back in Portland, then by first grade we were off to Busan, Korea for a year. After Korea I attended most of elementary school in Portland. In 1990 my father defected to enemy territory and accepted a job at the headquarters of Adidas in Germany, and we spent two incredible years in Munich. After that I attended middle school in a nasty and untoward suburb of Portland called Hillsboro, then in 1994 I was ecstatic to learn that we were moving to this beautiful city of Seattle, where I went to high school.

I decided to go to U of O in Eugene, where I met the woman I’ve been in love with ever since. U of O is a huge school with lots of distractions. My newfound freedom got the best of me and I never went to class and straight up flunked out. I wound up getting a job washing dishes for two restaurants at once, joined at the dishroom, and a few weeks of that was the wake up call I needed. We moved to Portland where I got my grades up at community college for a year. I got into Lewis & Clark College where I finally got a degree in Chinese Studies. In 2005 we moved here and we plan to stay, at least for quite a while. At this point in life I’ve lived out more years in Seattle than anywhere else, but Portland is equally home and we have a lot of family there. I am proudly Pacific Northwest through and through!

B:  What do you do for work?

J:  I work in the travel industry for a high-end tour company that specializes in sending old, rich people on organized tours to Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and such), all the former Soviet Bloc countries, Iran, Mongolia, and beyond. My job is to coordinate and manage all of the airline contracts and ticketing for the company and make sure our clients get to and from all these crazy places. So if you ever need a bangin’ deal on some business class tickets to Ashkhabad Turkmenistan, you got my digits :-)

B:  What’s family life like? 

J:  Family Life couldn’t be better! Thanks for asking. On Christmas Eve 2011 our wonderful daughter came into the world and changed Everything. As you know, the rewards of raising a child infinitely outweigh the myriad demands. Being a papa rules.

B:  How long have you been on Instagram?

J:  In October of last year my wife suggested that I download instagram to see the pics of our baby she was posting.  I didn’t understand at all what it was. I’d only seen crappy photos on Facebook that said “someone you barely know uploaded a photo from instagram” or whatever and it annoyed me. And of course when I started the account I didn’t really follow anyone so there was nothing to do except watch on in disgust while the “popular page” refreshed and spewed out more horrific images of people I’m glad I don’t know. I stuck with it and eventually saw that if I looked around a little, people from all over the world were showing me incredible photography in a way I’d never seen before. It was both an art form and a method of communication that for the first time was accessible to everybody. That is what I most appreciate about the app itself: for the first time in history, most people walking this Earth have a device in their pocket that can capture a moment in time then transmit the image, the vision of one individual, to a global audience. But it’s not just anybody and certainly not everybody looking at these images, it’s a select few of like-minded individuals who appreciate this glimpse into the photographic eye of strangers all over the map, people who share an interest in capturing the world around them then presenting it in their own style.

B:  How has your interest in photography changed the way you see the world? Is there a place that you’ve traveled to that you wish to revisit now that you have a new love for photography?

J:  It’s hard to remember what it was like to walk past a crazy reflection and not even notice it, or to see something spectacular and just say “wow” without wanting to capture it. Its effect on how I see the world is pretty simple, and I’m sure anyone reading this would agree: I look around more, pay a lot more attention to not only what is around me but below me, overhead and around corners, and I find beauty and intrigue in things that previously would not have even caught my eye.

I have done a lot of traveling in my life, and while I would always take along and use whatever crappy point-and-shoot I had with me, photography was not at all a priority or a major component of the experiences I was having abroad. I absolutely love China and have been there many times and I can’t wait to return with a photographic vengeance and go completely nuts with it. The architecture of Shanghai and Hong Kong, the character of Beijing, the people everywhere… the landscapes of the Li River gorge near Guilin – all places I can’t wait to go back to and spend more time photographing. I would also like to travel back to Uzbekistan and be more brave in capturing its gold-toothed, bronze-skinned, colorfully-adorned women and some more camels, minarets, and blue tiled domes. Uzbekistan is such a crazy, forgotten place. Japan, Hungary, Switzerland, Malaysia. There are too many to name. One thing I can say for sure is that as much as I have enjoyed getting a start here, I’m sick of shooting downtown Seattle! To answer your question though, I want to go back and take photos of each and every place I’ve been to, and I’m down to travel to just about anywhere one could name. Wherever I go next, I will certainly be taking a lot of pictures. I recently went to New York for the second time and it was really fun to be taking pictures in a new environment, and such an amazing one at that.

B:  I’m sure others would agree that your #puddlegram shots are killer and so spot on. What’s your trick for getting that perfect reflection?

J:  It’s embarrassingly easy. Find a still puddle with at least a few centimeters of depth, squat or lean over and turn your phone upside down so that the camera is as close to the water’s surface as possible, line up the shot (make sure it’s straight and that there is something interesting reflected in the puddle), and snap away. I’ve seen some very interesting puddle-crouches on Instagram and during meetups, and yes it always looks ridiculous, so one thing you can’t do when taking a puddlegram is think that you are looking cool at that moment. My biggest tip is to get the phone camera right down at the surface. Sometimes I accidentally dip my phone into the puddle, but that causes ripples and ruins phones so don’t get that low. Having talked about my own technique, I always appreciate seeing other people’s shots where they stand back a bit from the puddle and you can actually see the puddle as part of the composition of the shot, as opposed to just a reflective surface. I need to take it back to my early days of sudden-onset puddle addiction and try to take some more of those.

B:  As a Samsung Galaxy S4 user, what are your favorite editing apps at the moment? Are there any apps out there you wish were made available for your phone?

J:  Ugh, apps. I only use Snapseed. In April I bought the Galaxy S4. The majority of photos on my feed from before that were taken with a Galaxy S Blaze, an obsolete POS with a 5 megapixel camera that couldn’t even support Snapseed. With that phone, the only app I used was called Pixlr Express, a version of Pixlr-o-matic. It’s very basic and has a wide variety of whack filters, but they can be combined and adjusted to decent effect. I am bored with Snapseed as well but it definitely has its strong points and it’s very easy and convenient. Depending on the type of photo, my typical objective is to combine and adjust different effects, with varying degrees of intesnity, in order to simulate some of the effects I see from iPhone users; in particular, the wonderful tones that people get with vscocam, and the rich, deep blacks that I see from some exceptional black and white editors on Instagram. I’ve basically stopped searching for marvelous new Android photo apps, because there never seems to be any. The new Photoshop Touch phone app came highly recommended to me recently, but I haven’t a clue how to use Photoshop on computer, so I might not pony up the 5 bucks for it. Just the word Photoshop has strong connotations of “cheating”, somehow, but I don’t know, perhaps I should have a go at it. In the end, I figure if I can’t make it look good with Snapseed or something basic, then it’s probably just a crappy picture.

B:  You mainly bounce from reflection to architectural images, is there another area of photography you’d like to explore more?

J:  Yeah, it took me a while but I’ve gotten really into candid street photos. I’m oddly fascinated by pictures of people just walking by. I love the tag #framewalkers by @asim_overstands and @dadseyeview’s #peoplewalkingpastwalls and #…pastdoors tags. Since I work in Pioneer Square, Seattle, where there are an abundance of long alleys on every block, my budding tag #peoplewalkingpastalleys was a natural extension of that. I love the simple and universal form of a human in stride contrasted with the depth and character and grime of Seattle’s alleys in the background, so I would like to expand on that theme some more. I would also like to get better and more experienced playing with natural light. I take most of my shots during the workday lunch hour when the sun is high, which is obviously not the best time for interesting light effects. I’d also like to get some more interesting indoor shots. I obviously love puddle shots and the challenge of trying to get the most clarity out of the reflection, but typically they lack feeling and emotion, which I greatly appreciate in other types of photography.

B:  What do you think makes Seattle special? What’s your favorite spot for photographing?

J:  I think first and foremost the topography of our city is what makes it special. Seattle occupies an exceptionally narrow strip of land between the Puget Sound and massive Lake Washington, with smaller lakes and the ship canal to the north. Dual mountain ranges sawing at the sky on both sides of us makes this a visually and geographically dramatic corner of the world. The diversity of culture in Seattle is very important to me as well, and the Summers here are just perfect. It virtually does not rain from the Fourth of July to Halloween, and the abundance of green trees and Pacific breeze keep the air clean, crisp, cool, and dry. It’s never humid and rarely too hot. And there are no dangerous insects, spiders, snakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes. No one can deny the beauty of Seattle and the natural wonders surrounding it.

As my daughter is growing we are doing more weekend exploring, which affords the opportunity to find interesting places to photograph, so I’m happy about that and excited to eventually go on photo adventures as a family. But part of what got me so involved with Instagram and my personal photography in the first place was that when my daughter was born and I was at work all day during the week dealing with clients and coworkers, those lunch breaks and walks from the bus tunnel to work represented personal, private time for me; a time when I could go out briefly and be by myself and just take pictures and be in my own world. So, as much as I am getting sick of it, downtown Seattle is where I’m most comfortable taking photos. Creeping around in alleys waiting for someone interesting to walk by…. getting off the bus early at Westlake or University Station in the morning before work and walking down 3rd or 2nd Ave with the morning light shining on all the buildings and people… and the Columbia Tower. I could post pictures of that building once a week but I’m sparing y’all the monotony.

B:  How do you spend your time off? Assuming you work Monday through Friday, what are your weekends typically like? Do you like to take the family on photographic adventures? ; )

J:  Weekends are spent with the family! My daughter goes to sleep during the week at 7PM so I only get to see her for 30 minutes or so each day all week. On the weekends, I delight in seeing her grow and playing with her all day, and taking her to new places to see new things. I got my wife an iPhone5 recently, and she enjoys taking pictures with it as well, so there are indeed family photographic adventures in our future :-) In fact we are headed to the Oregon Coast for a 4 day weekend this week, and I hope to meander down there and make some photo stops along the way. I’m always happy to take a break from bums and puddles, buildings and alleyways.

B:  Let’s talk about food. Name your top three favorite restaurants:

J:  Chinese food: Breakfast at Jade Garden for dim sum, Lunch at Szechuan Noodle Bowl (wonton soup with handmade noodles!), Dinner at Chiang’s Gourmet on 80th and Lake City Way (more hand made noodles and wonderful things)

Thai food: Tawon Thai in Fremont used to be a favorite when I lived near there, now Chaiyo Thai because they deliver to my house. I’m a sucker for Pad See Ew. Wide rice noodles and broccoli! Hell yeah.

I think Pho Viet Anh in Lower Queen Anne has the best pho in town.  Obviously I love Asian cuisine…

Truth be told though, my wife and I both love to cook, and she blows me away every time she tries something new. Going out is fun, but most of the time I’d rather have a drink in my hand with the charcoal grill going in my back yard.

B:  What’s your music playlist like? Favorite band? Artist? Album?

J:  I definitely don’t have a short list of favorites… I really love a huge variety of different musical styles. Most of the music I listen to is old, and my friends all make fun of me for it. I like stuff that has stood the test of time, rather than crap like dubstep or some techno horsesh*t that will soon be a cultural embarrassment and currently is an affront to everything decent. These, of course, are my tactlessly delivered opinions. I’ll just list some favorites in no particular order:

Old Soundgarden, Faith No More, Minutemen, Bad Brains, Fugazi, Melvins, Tool. Pre-war blues music like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blind Boy Fuller, Skip James, Bukkha White. I was raised on Too Short, Digital Underground and Eazy E so my love of hip hop runs pretty deep. J Dilla, Madlib, old Mobb Deep, Big L, UGK, Andre Nickatina, Gang Starr, OL’ DIRTY BASTARD (rip), the GZA’s first album Liquid Swords is perfect front to back… I really like some North African Sahara music like Ali Farka Toure and especially Tinariwen (go see them next time they come to America); I’m a massive reggae and dub music fan – any Lee Perry production up until he went barking mad in 1979 (and some of his work from the 80s), King Tubby, Prince Jammy, the original Wailers line-up with Peter Tosh, Bob and Bunny Wailer, The Gladiators, U-Roy, Count Ossie, Jackie Mattoo… Bob Dylan’s first record is a masterpiece. Mark Lanegan is a truly special singer and song-writer. Scout Niblett. Scott H. Biram. Mongolian throat-singing. I think that Nina Simone was one of the best vocalists this world has ever heard.

B:  If you were given the chance to meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

J:  If you don’t mind I’ll take the liberty to chose dead people. I would love to hear first-hand the accounts of people like Marco Polo or Xuanzang, the 7th Century Chinese monk who spent 17 years walking to India in order to acquire Buddhist texts, learn Sanskrit and Pali, translate them into Chinese, and bring them home. With my love of travel, I am fascinated by the idea of true adventurers long ago traveling great distances overland, long before the world was connected in any way at all. I enjoy imagining what it would have been like to encounter places and cultures that were entirely unknown and unexpected. The fact that people like Marco Polo, Matteo Ricci, and Xuanzang were able to not only walk over continents through unimaginably hostile lands, but also to learn unrelated languages without so much as a dictionary, and find some foothold in such vastly different cultures… that blows my mind.

B:  One last thing: what other sites/blogs do you read regularly? Any photography blogs we should check out?

J:  I dunno but check this out. Spectacular photos and a great article about Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport, which until it’s closure in 1998 was one of the craziest airports in the world to fly into. The photos are unbelievable.: http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/11/travel/hong-kong-kai-tak-airport

My name is Jered Gorman. I’m 34 years old and I hail from the Pacific Northwest of the United States. A few things I like are spending time with my little family, flying to foreign countries, taking pictures, playing ping pong, and going out on other people’s boats.

Contact Jered
Email // Instagram

2 Comments

  1. beautiful pictures with a real sense of composition..

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed the interview and the images! Well done Jered and Bridgette!

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