Jay Fleming ’09 may have been an economics major at St. Mary’s, but his true passion is photography. Focusing on documenting the Chesapeake Bay seafood industry and the watermen who work the Bay, his photos have recently been twice featured in the Wooden Boat magazine and at the 2013 Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Md. Many examples of his photography can be found at www.jayflemingphotography.com. Jay lives in Annapolis, Md.
Q: What is your position with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources? What does it entail?
A: I am a member of the seafood marketing team at the MD DNR. My job there primarily focuses on connecting Maryland watermen to Maryland restaurants and stores and, ultimately, the people who frequent these places. The job also entails publicizing the different suppliers, sellers, and harvesters of local seafood and increasing awareness and excitement amongst the public about the seafood industry in Maryland. We want consumers to want fresh, local seafood, and we want it to be readily available to them. We also want to see the businesses of those involved in the Maryland seafood industry be able to be sustained.
Q: What inspired you to take up photography as a hobby?
A: My dad was a photographer for National Geographic magazine when I was younger. He used to give me his old equipment and I started to experiment with photography then, at around age 12. I instantly enjoyed it and have continued taking pictures ever since.
Virginia Eastern Shore House by Jay Fleming
Q: What’s your specialty?
A: I don’t know if I have a “specialty,” per se, but I really enjoy photographing people, culture, landscapes, and creatures in and around the water—specifically, within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Along the same lines, I think that underwater photography could be considered a passion of mine. I like the different perspective that you gain when submerged.
Q: What do you look for when taking a picture?
A: The most important tenet of photography, for me, is good light. Everything depends on the light in a picture. It doesn’t matter if there is the best subject matter ever sitting right in front of you, if the light is bad, so is the picture. Of course, finding ‘good light’ is all about timing. There are a lot of early mornings and patience involved in being a photographer.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who would like to do photography as a hobby or career?
A: The best advice that I could give to anyone seriously interested in photography would be to start small. Working for the school newspaper or a local magazine can provide the experience needed to take it to the next level. I would also advise people to try to think of ways to differentiate your work from that of other photographers. There are a lot of photographers in today’s market and to be competitive it is necessary to set yourself apart. Do not be afraid to get your work out there; the Internet is a great tool for photographers.
Jay Fleming kayaking on the Bay.
Q: How did St. Mary’s prepare you for life after?
A: St. Mary’s provided me with the knowledge I needed to learn how to build relationships in the real world. Many of my courses provided me with the opportunity to interact with people outside of the college community.
Q: Who may have been a major influence while you were here? Why?
A: My professors helped me make decisions about my academic route and had a big influence in helping me determine my path after college.
Q: Do you still keep in touch with any professors and/or fellow Seahawks?
A: I still keep in touch with my friends and professors from SMCM. I always feel back at home when I come to St. Mary’s County.
Q: What was your favorite thing about St. Mary’s?
A: My favorite thing about St. Mary’s was the location. I love being on the water.