Interview with Jeff Blumberg
PRESERVED! Artist Interview Series
Jeff is a tall man with a long ponytail and more than one silver earring adornment. He looks like a former engineer, who fell in love with photography and bartends in his spare time, which is good, because that’s exactly what he is.
It is a hot, sunny evening at Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve and Jeff walks slowly through the preserve with searching eyes and a camera around his neck. Wisps of white clouds tickle the brilliant blue sky; the prairie is exploding with bright yellow coneflowers and shocking pink monarda flowers. The buzz of insects saturates the air, broken up by the melodious calls of birds darting about.
“As an avid hiker and professional photographer, the Preserved Project is perfect for me in bringing the art and beauty of nature to those unable to visit nature preserves and those that are unaware of these special places next door,” Jeff explains.
While Jeff may have explored other careers at some point, photography has been a part of his life since he was a child.
“I always enjoyed the creativity of art,” he says. “I could use a camera to capture what my mind would see. My mom taught me light metering and shooting slide film at an early age.”
As Jeff’s work evolved, he looked for new teachers and new inspiration.
“I have studied with some of the best photographers and Photoshop gurus in the U.S.,” he says. “I constantly read books and study other artist’s perspectives. Movies and technology are constantly changing the way we see the world. I just keep shooting!”
Jeff has been a professional photographer for over 25 years. He photographs weddings and graduates and babies, usually outside. The ruggedness or colorfulness or expansiveness of the settings compliments the people in them.
“I see the world in two distinct ways when photographing people,” he states. He describes that one way to see people is as an individual, who they are, and the other is to see the person “as a part of the beautiful world we live in.”
For Jeff, photography means you can capture many different aspects of life. You don’t have to choose between just nature or just people.
“All subject matter inspires me at different times,” he explains. “In nature, macro photography is just as exciting as wide-angle imagery. Capturing people as they go about their days is exciting. There is a time and a place for different viewpoints!”
It is easy to see how Jeff is drawn to different viewpoints because he’s one of those people who is active in a wide variety of disciplines and hobbies. Spending even a short amount of time with him will inspired others to be more ambitious and get out to learn new skills.
Jeff wipes the sweat from his brow. It’s not that humid, but without a breeze, the evening is a sticky one. Jeff has had to reapply his bug spray because, he confesses, mosquitoes love him. This doesn’t dampen his spirits in the slightest, especially when he discovers a new trail that borders the bog. He eagerly makes his way to it, and disappears into the tree line. It is clear how well the Preserved! program and the work of the Land Conservancy fits with Jeff’s passions.
“Thank you to the Land Conservancy of West Michigan for helping preserve these special places and for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful environment!” he later writes. “I hope to continue with The Land Conservancy in the future!”
For Jeff, incorporating art into environmental causes is easy and important.
“Art allows people to see the beauty in nature,” he says. “Much too often we move from point A to point B without enjoying the journey. A great book, Outside Lies Magic by John Stilgoe, opens up the idea of looking around in everyday places and seeing the beauty in it all.”
Like Stilgoe, Jeff uses his work and vision to impart wonder. There is one main message in Jeff’s work, that he hopes everyone can see: “Beauty is everywhere!”
Learn more about the Preserved! program and read other artist interviews here.