We had the good fortune of connecting with Jordan Gale and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jordan, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk plays a very core role in my practice of making pictures and telling stories through photography. I want to know the intricacies of the world, and I want to share people’s stories. In order to do that, I have to put myself outside of my comfort zone and risk being vulnerable. That risk is always there as I’m working, and it help me fully realize what it is I’m producing. At times, there will be financial risk. You risk your mental health or general safety, There’s risk in going out on the road with just an idea and a camera. It’s a risk to put your trust in a stranger, but for me this is where art gains honesty and authenticity. There’s a thousand steps towards whatever goal and each step starts with some kind of leap of faith. There’s no reward without risk.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Early in life I gravitated towards the arts. I was never a good student and had a lot of difficulty with other subjects outside of art classes. I got into making pictures because I needed a camera to film my friends skateboarding. I dabbled with photo throughout high school but never really thought of photography as a career until I was already in college. I had all of these images of my surroundings and the people close to me. At the time, I was shooting a lot of film, so I had to develop all this material once every other week. A lot of the time, I didn’t know what the pictures would be. Eventually, after looking through all these images, it clicked. My interest in making pictures was based in the dissemination of my own experiences and how I see the world. Photography and telling stories with pictures became a way for me to experience the world while explaining its complexities to myself. After that realization, the camera was all that mattered. Since that jumping off point, I’ve worked internationally for various media outlets. I was a contract photographer for The New York Times, following Joe Biden during his presidential bid through 2019 and 2020. I’ve had the privilege of being a part of many different lives, just because of this camera. That fact really excites me and keeps me going. At the moment, I’m living in Oregon, working on issues of the environment, but I also try to make work that aligns with my experiences or connect to my own personal narrative.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I just recently moved to Portland, Oregon. I’m still trying to figure all of this out myself. I spent a lot of my life in the midwest, then also in New York, so the landscape out here in the Pacific Northwest is new and exciting. I’d probably take someone out to the coast. Astoria, Oregon has a lot historical relevance culture. It’s only a couple hours from Portland. In the city, you’re extremely close to Mt. Hood and that is a beautiful trek, too. Probably some of that, then we’re trying all the different Pho spots, because I keep finding more amazing Vietnamese restaurants.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I try to find lessons everywhere. I’ve been very lucky to have the guidance and mentorship of a few different people who have decades of experience in the photography industry. While in college, Danny Wilcox Frazier was an integral figure as I started to learn the visual language of photography. The people I photograph are constantly teaching me something about myself, if not the world around me. My colleagues and the editors I work with are all deep wells of knowledge and support. On my own, I try and study the medium and its history as much as possible. I’m always looking through photo books, finding inspiration and reference material.