Renowned worldwide for his extraordinary landscape photography, Jeff Mitchum is often called the " Ansel Adams of color.” This award-winning triathlete dad has been featured in the Smithsonian Institution and the Getty Museum, and he has shot for National Geographic.
Mitchum, who has galleries in the Bellagio and MGM Grand in Las Vegas, brings his work to San Diego with the opening of his new gallery in La Plaza La Jolla. I had the joy of sitting down with Mitchum to find out more about his friendship with the legendary photographer Adams, his views on modern photography, and the inside scoop on his work.
Q: How did you meet Ansel Adams?
A: I was 14, washing dishes at a resort in Yosemite. In my free time, I would go down to the valley to work on my photography. I was out in Cook’s Meadow, he walked up, and that began our friendship.
Q: What was his best piece of advice?
A: Pay attention to detail and never believe your press report (chuckles). Always make time for people, and find your own Yosemite, something that speaks to your heart.
Q: What is fine art photography?
A: It’s a predetermined creation in the artist’s mind. Then the application is what takes place in the field. It’s visualization ... I visualize what will appear. I’ve waited two to 15 years to take images. Just like a painter sits down with the canvas. It might take me 15-20 tries, not just showing up, shooting and settling. That’s the drama.
Q: How do you relate running to photography?
A: With Ansel, his biggest regret was he lost his fitness. It gives you the engine to get off road. Too much photography is done on the side of the road. The fitter you are, the better your energy, creativity and longevity. I’ve got another solid 20 years of shooting.
Jeff Mitchum Galleries
Where: Street level on Girard Avenue in La Plaza La Jolla, 7863Girard Ave., La Jolla
Hours: 10a.m. to 8p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10a.m. to 9p.m. Friday and Saturday
Q: Favorite time of day to shoot?
A: Early morning and evening, when the light is at its warmest. It’s more than seeing the visual aspect of the sunset; the warmth changes the landscape. That is why you use the great part of your day scouting your location. What will it look like in warm light?
Q: Top three places you’ve ever shot?
A: Alaska in the fall, Denali especially; Patagonia and Antarctic, and Israel.
Q: Thoughts on traditional versus digital photography?
A: People are taking way too many photos, they create their image as an afterthought in Photoshop. That’s the danger. Was it created in imagery or through trickery? The real gift lies within us. What do I have the ability to create within me? Film doesn’t lie. I love my digital camera, but it has never changed the way I work: I still carry the same philosophy.
Q: Advice to a burgeoning young photographer?
A: Patience, and pay attention to detail. The name of the game is portfolio, portfolio, portfolio. Be very picky about what you choose to shoot.
Q: Last shot on earth?
A: There is an image at Torrey Pines that has eluded me for seven years. That’s the one I have to get. It will have all of the grandeur, and it will be one of my top three images ever. It’s a once in a lifetime shot.
Laurie Delk is an avid art historian, holding a master’s degree in art history, with concentrations in the modern and postmodern movements. She has taught classes at Tulane University, and has been published with several art publications including Sculpture Magazine and New Orleans Art Review.