Born and raised in Northwestern Pennsylvania near Lake Erie, Martin Jerge always knew that he would work in the creative industry. While his parents dreamed of him becoming an engineer, he works as a freelance photographer.
While attending college in Indiana, Martin Jerge took a course in photography. Most of his work in the course featured the rolling hills of Southern Indiana or the state’s various historical landmarks, which he was drawn to. After completing the course, he decided to stop pursuing an engineering degree and moved on to obtain a degree in photography instead.
Most of Martin Jerge’s work consists of photography featuring various landscapes and landmarks across the U.S. He also focuses on hobby photography, which involves pictures of subjects performing every-day and habitual activities, as Martin believes that there is beauty in simplicity.
Martin Jerge currently lives in Los Angeles, California, with his family. He never leaves home without his camera, as he never knows when he might happen to come across a celebrity that he can snap a photo of to sell to tabloids.
Why did you decide to create your own freelance photography business?
It started off as a hobby that turned into a passion. In my adolescence, I enjoyed taking photos but never considered turning it into a career. After taking a photography course, however, it really became front of mind for me. A a lot of guest speakers came to our class that did have careers in photography. I was inspired by them as well as the landscape of Indiana.
I created my career in photography based on the idea that there is so much beauty all around us. I am inspired by the landscapes and landmarks across the U.S. I also believe there is beauty in simplicity. When you take a photo of someone taking that first sip of coffee in the morning, you capture that moment of absolute contentment and calmness. In today’s society, we are constantly in a rush and we forget to slow down sometimes. I really enjoy taking snapshots of those moments to remind people of life’s simple pleasures.
What do you love most about your industry?
I enjoy the fact that there really are no rules. While I enjoy taking scenery and hobby photography, I also frequently have contracts to be a wedding photographer or to take engagement, maternity, and family photos. On the same day I could be out somewhere and happen to see a celebrity and snap a photo to sell to magazines. It’s very exciting.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned about being a photographer?
Never leave home without your camera. You honestly never know when inspiration may strike, even if you’re just out taking your dog for a walk in the morning. A lot of my best shots were taken at moments that I least suspected. They ended up being pieces that were the most popular and ended up selling the most at various photography shows.
How has your business grown from its early days to now?
It really happened by chance. In college, I had some friends getting married that had their photographer drop out at the last minute. I took photos for their wedding and it turned into a paying gig with a lot of referrals. From there it just made sense to keep going with it.
How do you deal with negativity?
I dealt with a lot of negativity in the past. My parents had wanted me to pursue a career in engineering because it was practical and would have granted me a high-paying job. They weren’t happy when I came home during summer break to tell them I would be changing my major to photography. I just dealt with it by following my dream. You spend a large percentage of your life working so why do something that makes you feel unhappy and unfulfilled?
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
The people and the things I surround myself with, like my family, my friends, and my dog. I think you are only as good as the people you’re around, so I keep my circle small and intimate.
What trends in your industry excite you?
I think the fact that action photography has made such a big breakthrough is exciting. There are new technologies and equipment coming out every day to help people take photos while they are doing action sports like surfing or skiing. As I said, I am really focused on the idea of photography capturing a moment so I think capturing that moment of action is really exciting.
What advice would you give to up and coming photographers?
Take photos of everything to really figure out what your niche will be. Some people only focus on taking photos of architecture while other people are exclusively nature photographers. There are even people who only take photos of doors or windows. You won’t know what your niche is unless you try taking pictures of a lot of different things to get a sense of your specialty.