John “Fletch” Fletcher keeps busy. Photography, acting, doing voice-overs, playing bass, dancing salsa, teaching English…the list goes on. He studied film and video production in college at Notre Dame (and worked on the movie Rudy, which was shot on the campus). But he got away from his film roots for a while, working for years in the insurance industry. Recently, he’s been focused more on the artistic side of life, and he’s currently working on making the world a little brighter, one image at a time. He recently kindly agreed to answer some questions about what he’s up to (focusing on the photography bit, mostly–he has been selling fine art, travel, and astro-photography prints, as well as stock photography work, pictures for advertising campaigns, and portraits). Here’s what he had to say.
John “Fletch” Fletcher
Date: June 19, 2019
Hometown and current town: I’m currently living in Valencia, Spain, but preparing to head back to Atlanta, GA, where I’ve lived for the last 20 years.
Occupation: With my current gig as an English teacher ending in Valencia, I would say my profession is transitioning more over to photography, acting/voice-over, and bass playing, probably in that order. Even though I have taught and performed salsa dancing in the past, I really consider that more of a hobby right now. I may eventually go back to teaching, but I really want to focus on the photography at this point in time with some side performance jobs.
What’s your “elevator pitch” for your photography work?
I honestly don’t have one. I’ve been so busy taking photos that I really haven’t had time to work on one. I promise to have that and a fully functional website once I get back to Atlanta. I have a couple incredible friends up in Nashville, Dave and Paul Bregande, that I plan on working with to develop a strategy for marketing my work and talents.
Who are your favorite photographers, either of the past, or working today?
I’d say the first name I learned about in photography was Ansel Adams, and I’ve always appreciated his amazing landscapes and use of light and shadow. I would love to be able to go back and watch his techniques for dodging and burning in the darkroom. I can only imagine what that was like compared to the process in Lightroom and Photoshop nowadays. I can’t say there is any one other photographer who is my favorite. Part of that is probably because I love to work in so many different types and styles of photography. I think Dan Brouillette does some cool environmental portraits and then there are many people I’ve found on Instagram that offer me inspiration daily, such as @steviekahn for nighttime cityscapes, @shanore for digitally composited images, @soosseli for wildlife, @stratigos.eu for black and white long exposure…the list goes on and on. I even have a friend from high school, @amy.gottlieb1, who has traveled the world and is amazing at taking environmental portraits of the people she meets along way.
What is your favorite location to work?
I’d say I’m generally more comfortable outside; it really doesn’t matter too much where. But I do have to admit, bringing and utilizing the equipment for some of the shoots can be difficult when you’re shooting outside. Just last night, I had to carry my camera, a couple of high mm lenses, my tripod, and various other devices with me up a fairly steep mountain without a path just to get a shot of the strawberry moon coming up over the town where I’m staying. A few weeks ago, my girlfriend had to assist with lights and reflectors at a shoot we did for a new musical talent, Aliya and the New Andalus, at a castle in a town north of Valencia. The castle was on top of a mountain.
What artists (photographers, or musicians, writers, visual artists, etc.) have influenced you the most?
Really too numerous to mention. I know earlier in my life, cinema influenced me greatly. I had dreams of being a director, cinematographer and/or special effects artist. That’s probably what’s drawn me to photography. It’s also what influences my interest in time-lapse photography and what are called cinemagraphs (still images with parts of them that move).
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere. I make sure I have at least one camera and lens with me on all of my trips. I often find myself running and grabbing a camera when I see something I really want to photograph. It might just be a little dragonfly by the side of a swimming pool. I often find myself looking at the sky and figuring out when and where the sun will be setting or where the moon will be coming up and where I can get the best shot of that. The more I’ve been doing portrait photography and working with people in my images, the more I find great inspiration in that collaboration. I love getting shots of people caught in a conversation or singing and dancing to music. I love hearing other people’s ideas of what they’d like to see or how they’d like to be photographed and then making that happen. Having subjects with certain interests or special talents and capturing that can be very inspiring.
What is a book everyone should read about photography?
I honestly can’t think of one. There are so many types of photography that I can’t say there’s one book everyone who does it needs to read. I would say that you should spend time researching the type of things you want to do so that you know technically how things can and are executed. Not that you have to follow that exactly, but I guess it’s one of those things where it helps to know the rules so you can break the rules. Understanding how to use your camera in manual mode is huge. Again, you don’t have to shoot that way all the time, but understanding manual mode means you know the exposure triangle. Every photograph relies on a balance of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture size, and then adding in a flash compounds that. So if you see a certain thing you like such as a shot of a waterfall with really blurry looking water or you see a picture of the milky way you really like, google it, look it up, research it, and learn how different people have achieved those things. And get out and shoot!!! Everything’s digital now (unless you still want to shoot on film). You can shoot as many photos as you like and experiment as much as you like. You don’t have to have a darkroom to develop and print stuff anymore either. It can be very hands-on, and you can do everything on your computer.
What is a book everyone should read not about photography?
Again, it’s tough for me to name something specific. Something connected to what you want to shoot, even if loosely so.
What is your favorite movie?
It’s not any sort of art masterpiece, but Raiders of the Lost Ark has got to be way up on that list, if not the top. I assume that has to do with my age and when it first came out. It was pretty much “the” movie when I was really getting into cinema and making my own movies when I was a kid.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
“Just get out and shoot.” Too many people buy a camera and maybe even some lenses, and they never really use them. Or they just break them out once a year or something like that.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I think a lot of people who know me from one thing I do don’t really know about the other things I do. I don’t know if I just don’t talk about myself enough, or maybe it’s my more introverted nature. People who know me from salsa probably don’t know I’m a photographer. People who know me from photography don’t necessarily know I act. People who know me through acting don’t know I play bass, etc. If you follow me closely and over a long period of time on Facebook, you might know. Obviously if you’re my good friend, you know, but I think most people don’t know the variety of things I enjoy doing.
What is the best or the worst thing that has happened to you this week?
I’d say the best thing is getting to stay at a friend’s house in a small town south of Valencia called Corbera. We had to move out of our apartment prior to moving back to Atlanta because our lease ran out before our flights home. A friend offered to let us stay at their place, and it’s amazing. There are orange groves surrounding us where we can pick fresh oranges anytime we want, and there are hens out back laying fresh eggs daily. It’s so peaceful here after being in more of a city environment for the last year and a half or so.
That sounds lovely! If you could go back in time and do something over, what would it be?
There’s not much I’d change because I think I’d lose too many good things by changing others, like people I’ve met along my journey. That said, I’d probably have worked more on learning a new language earlier in my life. I also wish I’d purchased a DSLR camera sooner.
One last question: Is there anything else you’d like to pitch, promote, or discuss?
Not right now. Just please check out my Instagram @fletchjrphotography and my FB page FletchJr Photography, and let me know if you’d like a print of any of my work or if you’d like to collaborate on a project. I’ll be posting information on Facebook and Instagram once my website is up and working.
Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.
Laura can be contacted at email@example.com
All images courtesy of John Fletcher and FletchJr Photography
Milky Way Mora
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