May Featured Artist Q&A:
Street-smart and head-strong, Jay Canter is obsessed — or should we say driven? With one quick flash, the talented and published (many times over we might add) sports and entertainment photographer, is able to freeze time and capture hidden moments to create spellbinding, timeless images. His passion for the craft has given him the opportunity to travel the world, yet the practically native Sacramentan chooses to seed and grow his creative talents here in the River City…and we thank him for that!
This May we chatted about guilty pleasures, life lessons, and the essence of a great image with the man with a knack for the fast and furious. Meet the man behind the camera lens below:
1. In your artist statement you mention that nearly anyone can pick up a camera and shoot, but very few can create “an everlasting memory.” What do you feel makes a picture truly memorable?
Nowadays there are lots of talented people creating some amazing art with such advancements from smartphones. Quite a few of the everlasting memories I feel I have created are more personal — the places I have traveled to and people I have been fortunate enough to photograph.
The subject matter first and foremost is what makes a picture truly memorable. I have photos of my grandfather for example, who was a World War II hero and one of my biggest supporters. I will always remember the last time I saw him because it was when he was in an annual Veterans Days Parade down in Southern California. Even though he really didn’t like to be photographed he always would look for me and give me a smile or a wave. He passed away on a cruise to Hawaii a month after I shot this photo.
Photo of Jay Canter’s grandfather and WWII hero, Ben “Popp” Berger at a southern California Veterans Day Parade (November 11, 2013.)
2. What advice would you give your younger self?
If I was to give advice about being a professional photographer it would have to follow your passion and don’t take “no” for an answer…which is pretty much what I did! I never finished college to pursue my dreams of being a professional sports and entertainment photographer. I have had doors closed in my face even to this day for one reason or another. I keep going and trying to market myself and the quality of work I do to all kinds of different industries.
I would also probably say that street smarts and on-the-job knowledge aren’t enough. I’d go back to get some sort of education from someone who knows more than I do, regardless of what that education is.
3. You’ve lived in Sacramento most of your life…and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. What do you love most about our city?
As of right now, no there are no plans to leave Sacramento. While I do travel about half of the year shooting for clients all over the place, Sacramento is just special. Sacramento sort of has the best of everything. The weather is great nearly all year, it’s easy to travel in and out of, and there are lots of great places to eat. (I love to cook as well as photograph chefs and food!)
4. What is the greatest milestone in your career so far?
I’ve been thankful to have had so many great accomplishments. A few would be being voted top photographer in Sacramento by Sacramento News and Review. Another would be having a bunch of my fine art permanently displayed inside Mercy San Juan Hospital. Being hired by a major publishing company to have my own book, Tuner Cars Field Guide, printed was for sure amazing as well. (I’m currently working on a new book as well!)
5. Name three of your guiltiest pleasures.
Ha! My new wife and new puppy would be one as they are a package deal (Hint: You can follow them on Instagram at TheDesignSergeant and Gunner_the_Yorkie). Another would be my lust for travel. My third? That would be my passion for creating the perfect image.
Along with shooting musical acts, fashion, weddings, portraits, fine art scenery images, Canter is a skilled motorsports photographer. Photo: Mazda RX8 drag race car driven and built by Abel Ibarra on the starting line shooting flames out the exhaust in Las Vegas.
6. What other projects do you have in the pipeline for 2015?
As of right now for my personal projects for 2015, I am working on completely rebuilding both my automotive website and my fine art/commercial website. It’s insanely time-consuming to produce a site when you have tens of thousands of images you want to share and sell to people.
I’m also working 10 hour days on is a coffee table book. It is about the past 20 years of motorsports photography I have done. Right now I’m going through and pulling out images that speak to me. I’ll then have to narrow those images down by at least 50 percent and I have not even started to think of what the design layout is going to look like! Luckily my wife who is retired from the US Army is a very talented graphic artist and will be assisting me with some of those duties.
And finally, as always, I am in search of art galleries all over the world who are interested in displaying and selling my artwork and doing shows. For quite a while I was big into the 2nd Saturday Art Walk here in Sacramento, however, it really turned into more of a party than an opportunity for art collectors to purchase art and support local artists. I would of course always consider working with one of the many fabulous galleries downtown to create something special!
Keep up with Jay:
Interview by Sacramento365’s Content & Social Media Coordinator, Jamila B. Khan.