Jake’s career began by focusing on the wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He grew up spending his summers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where his time in the Teton Range, surrounded by jagged peaks and abundant wildlife, cultivated not only a love for nature at a very young age, but also the desire to share and preserve it. Even now, while he travels often to photograph and tell the stories of vulnerable wildlife around the world, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is home. He works closely in collaboration with biologists from agencies such as USGS and NPS. His work on grizzly bears has been featured in various publications, including a recent book on Yellowstone grizzlies. Among Jake’s recent awards, his work has hung on the walls of the Smithsonian in the Exhibition of Nature's Best Photography.
Where There Is No Path, premiering November 2018 at the Turner Fine Art Gallery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, came from a creative endeavor spanning several years. The result is the very first collection of wildlife ambrotypes. Ambrotypes are created from a traditional wet plate photographic process dating back to 1850. Put simply, the art is a plate of glass that is a negative image, but when presented with a black background, becomes a positive image. In marrying the advantages of cutting edge camera technology with the slow and methodical traditional wet plate process, a truly unique work of wildlife art was born. The unpredictable and spontaneous nature of the wet plate process guarantees that each plate is an original piece.
“The medium has a unique way of conveying what feels like the spirit of its subject” Jake says. “Chances are you have seen one, even if you didn’t know what it was. It’s the photo of your great grandparents or from the Civil War. It is one of the oldest processes. When you see an ambrotype you immediately think old, history, memories of what once was.” Viewing a grizzly bear or a bison in this medium feels as if they too existed only in stories and imagery. One can feel the sense of loss that would be if these symbols of the wild no longer called it home. “I want to inspire people and communities to preserve the resilient yet fragile wilderness areas we have left,” Jake says, “as the world around us races ever so quickly into the future. We don’t want future generations to learn about the wild through stories or imagery. They need to be able to experience it.”
My hope is that all my work will serve to break the spell that in some measure rests on us all–that of a blasé disposition in regard to this astonishing and (at the risk of being misunderstood) magical world we call home. A place in many senses too beautiful to be real, except that it is. In a time where people are far removed from the rhythm and balance of the natural world, I strive to rekindle a connection with the wild through my work.