For an assignment on wildfire ecology I trained and earned my Red Card as a wildland firefighter with the So. Rockies Wildland Fire Module.
I ate it. Crunchy outside, creamy inside. And not the weirdest thing I've eaten.
Recently received my PADI Advanced Open Water scuba certification and am building my underwater gear list.
About Jason Houston's Capabilities
I have done journalistic assignments and NGO commissions for the majority of my 20+ year career. I have traveled to over 30 countries—many of them many times and most of them in the developing tropics—and embrace new technology and different approaches to help make sure my stories are effectively produced, stand out, and have the impact on change that I and my collaborators and clients are looking for. I thrive on meeting new people and problem solving in uncertain and unfamiliar situations, and have a proven record of working collaboratively and constructively with my subjects as well as field staff and other local support. I would be happy to put you in touch with anyone I've worked with in the past.
• Experience with travel in developing countries: I average almost 200 days a year on the road. I am experienced and comfortable navigating the necessary logistics for travel in under-resourced developing countries. I travel light and am comfortable (and prefer) moving and living like a local while embedding in the local communities.
• Embedding with my subjects: When photographing people and trying to honor their stories, the relationship I develop with them is the most important part. Too often because of time or budget or language or other limitations, photographers drop in and move through the community without really connecting. I always take the extra time, sometimes adding personal days to assignment schedules, and embed and try to live their experiences. For a story on a wildfire crew, I trained with and was red card certified to I could work alongside them, and in a small island community in the Philippines, I met and lived with a fisherman for almost 3 weeks, engaged in his routine even though we spoke no common language, 24 hours a day for the whole time.
• Pre-project planning: I also have experience in editorial photo editing/assigning as well as research, art direction, design, and production. This background gives me deeper insight and multiple perspectives when working with collaborators and clients to help strategize and plan assignments or commissions to be as efficient and effective as possible.
• Post-project production: My background also helps when producing my projects to assure that we use the assets we have gathered and your investments in our collaboration result in as much value and impact as possible.
• Simple, project-based budgeting: Day rates encourage clients to cut corners and discourage photographers to be efficient. They are often not aligned with expectations and can even 'reward' slower or lower quality work. I use a project-based approach to fees and budgeting that relies on careful planning, clear expectations, and accountability for complete work. This simplifies the process and provides my collaborators and clients with confidence in both their investment as well as the work I produce.
• Unobtrusive, low-profile mirrorless and compact cameras: Big cameras and tons of gear can be intimidating or even a liability, especially for subjects or in communities not used to being photographed. At best it can wrack up baggage fees or provoke crime, and at worst it compromises the relationships with and ability to represent authentically the people whose lives we are trying to share. My approach embraces advances in technology to find a simplicity that prioritizes a human connection with those I'm photographing while providing the capabilities necessary to produce the quality images necessary for effective stories.
• Remote controlled aerial photography: I have been flying drones for several years and recently invested in DJI's new still photography-focused Mavic Pro 2 system.
• Near-surface underwater photography: I am PADI Advanced Open Water (AOW) scuba certified and have underwater photography capabilities, especially for near-surface and shallow water work. I also have existing relationships and can collaborate with dedicated underwater photographers if and as needed.
• Physical fitness: I maintain a level of physical fitness necessary for long hours, long days, and long weeks traveling or working in harsh environments and where motorized transportation may not be available.