Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I just retired in January, after a wonderful career doing many interesting things. I was a US naval officer for 10 years, serving on ships on the east coast. Highlight: a port visit to communist Romania after three days of being shadowed in the Black Sea by Soviet ships. After that I worked in the tech industry, primarily on software for mobile devices. I was at Palm for nearly ten years (remember the Palm Pilot and the Palm Treo?) and ran their Andover, MA R&D center; then BlackBerry, where I started and ran THEIR Andover R&D office and was in charge of the BlackBerry email and messaging apps. For the past three years, I led a team of talented software engineers and testers in Amazon’s Digital group, doing new product development. When you work with a west coast company, your days start and end late, which explains why so many of my photos of Boston are in the evening!
I’m married with two adult children, both of whom work in the Boston area. Now that I’m retired, I plan to finally devote most of my time to photography.
When did you realize your passion for photography?
I was gifted a Brownie 127 when I was 10 years old and was hooked as soon as I received my first set of prints back in the mail. My parents owned several of the Time-Life book collections, and the series on photography really amped up my excitement (and sits proudly on my bookshelf today). Last but not least, my father was a creative guy and photography was one of his talents, especially nature photos and portraits. He was a dedicated Nikon man, and I learned on his equipment under his watchful eye. By my 16th birthday, I had saved enough money that I could finally buy my own SLR: a Nikon Nikkormat with a 50mm lens. That camera never left my side throughout high school and college.
Stylistically, my two big photographic influences were Life Magazine and National Geographic. Life had wonderful black and white essays and documentaries and was my touchstone for street photography, long before the Internet and Instagram. NatGeo is filled with beautiful color images that make me want to head out to the back yard immediately after reading every new issue.
What is your advice to aspiring photographers on Instagram?
1. Find photos that really turn you on and figure out why they do. Then go out and see if you can create your own. I have always loved Jay Maisel’s eye for color and texture, so I bought his books and started out trying to copy his style. Eventually I realized that I was no longer copying him and was creating my own unique images.
2. Shoot, shoot, shoot. The more you know what you love in a photo, the more likely you are to begin seeing it around you. I believe you develop a creative eye the same what you develop muscles. Well, the way other people develop muscles.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Boston is a photographer’s dream city. Small enough that you can walk it easily. Filled with a rich history that is still visible against a modern architectural backdrop. And surrounded by the natural beauty of the Atlantic Ocean, Boston Harbor, and the Charles River. And filled with a large number of talented, passionate, and friendly Instagrammers who share their love of Boston photography on IGersBoston. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Instagram: @jaaaabeeee | Website: jbparrettphotography.com