Today’s interview comes from the beautiful Greater Lehigh Valley located in eastern Pennsylvania. Here is where talented photographer Jason Fink can be found photographing an array of subjects in the great outdoors. Through Jason’s unique approach to his work, he has the ability to capture all facets of beauty from his surroundings. I invite you to browse through some of the photographs from his collections below and I think you’ll agree that he is indeed talented with a keen eye for detail.
Jason, thank you for allowing us to learn about your love for photography and for allowing us to get to know a bit about you. You are a remarkable photographer and your body of work is truly inspiring.
If you’d like to learn more about Jason or if you are interested in purchasing one or more of his breathtaking pieces, please visit his website. You can also follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
My name is Jason Fink. I’m 47 years old and a lifelong resident of Allentown, Pennsylvania. I’m a Philadelphia sports fan and pizza lover that enjoys spending a lot of time at our local parks and restaurants. I live with my girlfriend, Tawnya, and her son Tyler. We’ve been a family for 12+ years now.
Where do you call home?
I currently call South Whitehall Township my home. It’s a quiet suburb of Allentown and is located about 45 minutes west of Philadelphia. It’s located in the Greater Lehigh Valley, which is home to a large, beautiful park system.
I see that you’ve built up an extensive collection of wonderful photography. What is it that led you towards this field and how long have you been working in it?
I’ve always been the guy at the family events and vacations walking around with the camera, and for many years it was just a simple point-and-shoot camera, so it was something I just naturally enjoyed doing but didn’t take very seriously at the time. Then, about 3 to 4 years ago, with some extra time on my hands, I started thinking about how to fill those extra hours with something more meaningful than video games and Netflix, so taking my photography a bit more seriously felt like the natural course to take. I dropped some well-earned money on a used Sony camera and a great photography book (Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson). I read the entire book while waiting for my camera to arrive. I wasn’t exactly sure how seriously I would get into it, but I probably don’t go more than a day without taking photos now. I could do it all day.
How did you develop your photographic style?
That’s a tough question. I know, in this field, it’s often important to find a unique style, but I’m not super comfortable painting myself into those kinds of corners either. I tend to identify my style as a “work in progress” and hopefully it stays that way. As we learn more (and hopefully we’re always learning), I think our styles are bound to change with that newfound information. My current style would probably be influenced by the likes of Serge Ramelli, as I’ve been watching a lot of his Youtube content lately and just learning a lot in general related to his style and how he approaches work in post.
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
In my personal life, my family inspires me. Photography gets me outdoors and it often gets my family outdoors and just makes for a happier and healthier group of people. The “dream” of doing something that I love, for a living one day, is also quite motivating. I spent a good 40+ years of my life taking our wonderful park system for granted, so I like the idea of making up for that and really getting into these parks to explore them all, photograph everything and hopefully show others how beautiful they really are.
What’s the best part of being a photographer?
Hands down, it’s just getting outside. Getting into nature and exploring these parks, park systems, lakes, and wildlife. Capturing it all on “film” is just a bonus and something I love to do. I get quite grouchy if I can’t get my outdoors time each day, lol.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
I don’t know if this is my best image, but it is my favorite because it was such a wonderful experience when I was taking the shots. I had the entire Trexler Nature Preserve’s observation trail to myself this evening, which is extremely rare because it generally offers up amazing sunsets every evening. It’s a very popular spot normally, but thunderstorms throughout the day kept everyone away on this evening. As I was snapping shots, this beautiful fog rolled into the valley below. It was so quiet, peaceful, and beautiful all at the same time. I didn’t want to leave. From a technical and artistic view, I have better photos, but this is my favorite image and one I won’t forget taking.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
The natural world that surrounds us pretty much every minute of every day. We hurry by so much of it every day on our way from point A to point B, that we often fail to recognize or remember how wonderful it all is. I hope my work gets people to look up at the huge skies more often every dusk or appreciate the fleeting Cardinal that stops by the backyard every morning.
Do you have any tips for aspiring photographers?
Get out there and shoot…a lot. I have thousands (literally) of unpublished images. Entire days of photography that served as nothing more than learning experiences (i.e. failures) in composition, lighting, getting correct focus, you name it. Just because it’s not Instagram-worthy, doesn’t mean it’s a wasted shoot. You’re always going to be learning something peripherally as long as you’re out there taking pictures and being critical of your work. It all adds up whether you realize it or not.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with?
What is your favorite lens?
Most recently, the Sony SEL16F28 16mm f/2.8 for landscape.
What is in your camera bag?
16mm lens. Sometimes paired with an ultra-wide converter (Sony VCLECU2 12-16)
2 x ND 1000 filters (different sizes)
Kit of lower density filters ND3, ND6, ND9
Gradient filter (hardly ever use!)
Polarization filter (again, hardly ever use. Probably should.)
What is your favorite photography accessory?
I’m not a big accessory guy in general, but I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with the ND1000 filters on my trip to the shore this summer. I haven’t had a chance to fully utilize them yet, but the ocean and bay will probably be subjects that I spend a lot of time around doing long exposure shots. I’ve been spending time recently at local rivers using them and getting acquainted with the settings I’ll need once I’m by the ocean.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
I could use a genuine macro lens. Some of my conventional lens, that I have, do macro(ish) type work, but nothing close to an actual macro lens. I don’t do a lot of macro work, so it’s kind of tough to justify the cost, but it would be a nice addition to round out my kit and I think they’re quite fun to use, on a day where the light isn’t tremendous for landscape work.
Do you use Photoshop, Lightroom, or any other software programs for post-processing your images?
Absolutely. Both Lightroom and Photoshop are part of the workflow on all of my images. Most of my work is done in Lightroom. I’ll use Photoshop for any physical editing like removing people or other distractions from images, applying blurs, etc.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
I can think of only one time honestly that annoyed me. My family and I had gotten up quite early to catch the sunrise at Covered Bridge Park. I was interested in shots of the sunrise coming up behind the covered bridge. After the shoot, I got home and was quite excited to go through all the amazing images I had shot. It didn’t take long to realize that everything was shot in JPEG instead of RAW. Apparently, I made a secondary adjustment on the camera earlier that morning, that flipped the output set to JPEG. Took me a while to figure out what had happened. I was able to salvage some shots, but a lot of shots were lost due to how dark some areas were and not salvageable as JPEGS. There were some red flags that I should have noticed while taking the photos, but I was either too lazy or too into the shoot to care. Rookie mistake.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that “tipping point?”
During the pandemic and the past year, I feel like my photography has improved the most. I’ve learned a lot about Lightroom and how powerful some of the image processing software truly is and I’ve truly embraced post-process work as a necessity. It’s become one of my favorite parts of the photography process. I’ve become less stressed about getting perfect light situations and I find that focusing on composition and subject matter are more key to my success. I can fix a lot in Lightroom if the light is not absolutely perfect and as a fine art photographer, you’re actually encouraged to take artistic license with your photography, which to me, is incredibly fun. I can work on one image for hours and not be frustrated with the process at all, since it’s entirely creative.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Long-term, hopefully working full time in an actual photography career. One that I can use to support my family. A career that allows me to do this full time, rather than when time allows. In the short term, I have plans to expand my reach into other locations in eastern Pennsylvania within the next year or two, exploring some state parks, lakes, and their wildlife. I’m really looking forward to visiting these new areas and adding more photography to my portfolio from these places.