I first spotted Jay Fleming in a net full of fish. He was happily caught up in the (legal) pound-net with thousands of flopping menhaden. I was working on a story about menhaden at the time and did a double-take. There’s a guy in there?
I had to check this guy out. You see, I’d just learned about him when a friend in Florida sent me a Facebook post of the Chesapeake Bay bridge. It was amazing. I figured a national art-photographer had swung by on vacation. Turns out it was 27 year-old, Annapolis-based Jay Fleming. Whoa, a local guy! I had to know more.
Jay is a seasoned ‘photog’ who’s been working at his craft since age 14, when his dad gave Jay his old Nikon. His dad is Kevin Fleming, an award-winning National Geographic photographer now based in Delaware. Jay trained and learned through dad.
“A photograph I took while tagging along on a assignment with my dad ended up winning grand prize in a Environmental Protection Agency photography contest; that sparked my interest,” Jay explains.
But while dad, Kevin, traveled the world, Jay decided to stay local. He focuses his camera mainly on the Chesapeake Bay, as an outdoors/adventure shooter who jumps in the boat with the crabbers and in the water with the critters. The results are amazing.
“I enjoy spending time on the Chesapeake Bay, learning about how it works and meeting the people who make a living on it,” says Jay. He takes time to get to know his subjects and then gets into the action with them.
And for the past 13 years, he’s been focusing on the nature, showing its beauty, in an effort to demonstrate — through photos — the importance of ecological conservation. He spent the summers of 2011 and 2012 working on photos of Yellowstone National Park’s dwindling Cutthroat trout. National Geographic News used Jay’s pictures in a story about the impact of non-native lake trout on the native Yellowstone cutthroat (here’s the story).
Since then, he’s done freelance work for a number of local and regional publications. You’ll see some of Jay’s work from Drum Point in an upcoming edition of Wooden Boat magazine. He was shooting over Labor Day weekend for a story about a working replica of a Smith Island crab scraper (a wooden crabbing boat).
One thing you will not find in Jay Fleming’s portfolio is sailing pictures.
“I like to focus on topics that are not ‘over’ photographed,” he says. Although he plans to eventually check out the Wednesday Night Races (the wild and crazy weekly sailing races in Annapolis).
In between magazine assignments, Jay does weddings and artistic commercial photographs — the pics you see in ads and on menus.
He points out that “being an above average photographer in todays market (over saturated with photographers) and making a living means that you have to diversify and be able to handle a wide variety of subject matter.”
But what Jay does best, and enjoys the most, are the photographs of the Chesapeake Bay at its natural ferociousness.
Jay’s art photos are exhibited at the Delaware Art Gallery in Rehoboth Beach and available through his website, JayFlemingPhotography.com. His Facebook page contains his latest adventures and we’ll be featuring some of them in the future here on ChesapeakeLiving.
He now has a book of his photographs out in 2016, “Working the Water”.