Get to Know Our Members: Self-taught astro-photographer Jon Carmichael
May 29, 2019
This month, our featured member is a speaker and a licenced sport pilot. Oh and we should also mention that he is a self-taught photographer whose career started at age 20. He quickly became one of the youngest high-profile photographers in the world and has worked with President Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, the Dalai Lama and others. Let’s see what else we can find out about Jon Carmichael!
Tell us about the trajectory of your career up to this point.
I actually never meant to be a professional photographer, so it's funny how my career path has unfolded. I taught myself how to use a camera when I was 20 as merely a hobby. For almost ten years I never showed anyone my artwork or even printed a single photograph. Then my father passed away and everything changed. I had many regrets of not sharing my work with him, so in his honor I spent a year learning the printing process and created my first artist proofs. Through this miraculous grapevine, as if it was fate, the day I finished my first proofs Elton John, one of the biggest collectors of photography, heard my story and invited me to his home to see the prints. He became my first collector, encouraged me to share my work and introduced me to the art world.
Who are your biggest influences?
I tend to find most of my inspiration through philosophers, scientists, and entrepreneurs. Carl Sagan was my biggest influence growing up and is the reason I became curious about astronomy, which later evolved into my passion and career of being an astro-photographer. Other influences are Buckminster Fuller, The Dalai Lama, and Elon Musk.
What does your work aim to say?
I try to tell a story with my work and instill curiosity. To me, there's nothing more mysterious or awe-inspiring than the universe and natural beauty of our planet. It's very humbling. Unfortunately we have too much light pollution now due to electricity. Because of this, we cannot see much of the night sky and have lost our sense of awe and wonder that our ancestors had. I try to reignite that in my work. What I love most about photography is being able to push the boundaries and unveil parts of reality we cannot see with the naked eye.
Bonus Question: What tip would you give our members about collecting photography?
We as humans are social creatures and storytellers. I would encourage members to collect works that have a story which move you personally - something that has meaning and is not just aesthetically pleasing. Anything can be photographed beautifully, but it's often the story behind it that gives it true value. If you're walking through an art fair or gallery and a photograph stops you in your tracks, I encourage you to ask more about the image and the story, as it might surprise you.
And this is why we love our “Get To Know Our Members” feature… we have so many inspirational members, whom we are so proud of, just like Jon! Please find more of his work here. Next month, we’ll select a new member to feature… it could be YOU!