Jess McGlothlin is a seasoned traveler and writer. When she's on assignment she also takes beautiful pictures of the outdoors that are timeless and engages the viewer to keep looking in.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a freelance photographer and writer specializing in outdoor, travel, fly-fishing and documentary work. I’m 29, relocated about every year or so, but am from Montana. I currently reside in Bozeman, Montana though I say that’s where I park my car. I don’t seem to be there much.
What is it that you love about outdoor culture and specifically fishing?
I was lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time outside as a kid especially on the great rivers of the West. As an adult, fly-fishing has been an excuse to travel. It’s taken me all over the world, from remote South Pacific atolls to above the Arctic Circle in Russia. There’s no peace like being in a big wilderness space and feeling so small. It’s humbling.
I just returned recently from a SUP expedition in the Peruvian Amazon. Fantastic team in an incredible place, and we kept remarking how hard the jungle is. The general consensus was that it’s constantly trying to eat you. I loved it. There’s something beautifully wild in a place as harsh as that. It challenges you in a way very few things can.
Did being based in Montana have anything to do with your love of the outdoors?
Montana is a great place to be as an outdoor-centric creative. Summers here are utterly fantastic. Winters are harder, but there’s beauty in the mountains. I have no doubt I’ll end up next to the ocean, though… it’s addictive!
Where do you want to adventure to next?
Anywhere I haven’t been! Africa is high on the list, as is Australia. But in a few weeks I leave for a series of trips, one of which is reuniting with old friends to fish on Martha’s Vineyard. I know it’s a great team, so that alone is exciting, even though it’s a place I’ve already ventured to.
What are your favorite kinds of "toys" to play with when you are shooting a scene?
Whatever the subject is most comfortable with! For fly-fishing work, I want to ensure the subject knows how to properly handle, hold and release fish, so I sometimes travel with a plush trout that we can practice with. People roll their eyes, but it helps!
How did you get started as a writer?
I was a writer before I was a photographer. The best advice I can give is to simply get words on paper — you’re never going to be “always inspired.” Some days you’ll sit and stare at a blank page for a senseless amount of time. That’s okay. Just start putting words on paper… even if it’s nonsense. Write about your breakfast, about that book you just read, whatever. Get the words flowing and good things happen.
Also, always carry a notebook. I always have one at hand, even on assignments in the middle of nowhere. You never know when you’ll need to jot notes down or when inspiration will strike. Sometimes the words just happen.
What is one of the challenges you face as a small business owner?
Time! Time is crucial. My average workweek is anywhere from 55-75 hours… never less. When my friends are out at the bars, I’m at home hunting up new clients. You have to be willing to grow your business and make the sacrifices to do so. It’s a hrash reality, but prioritization is key.
What do you love about the classes you hold?
Working with people who are eager to shoot! As a professional, I absolutely suffer burnout sometimes… it’s natural. But I get around people who are jazzed to just get out there and shoot, and there’s something contagious in that. I come back from workshops both exhausted and re-energized.
Do you think journalism will be more immersive in the future?
Modernization is inescapable. But I’m old-fashioned… I still hope words and strong, compelling images will win the day.
Have any stories to share about writing about a person or a place or event?
A few years ago I was on a shoot on a small, remote atoll in French Polynesia. Sitting and listening to the local’s stories, told through translator, it became apparent the small dot in paradise had a serious problem — with no jobs on the small atoll, the young adults were having to move to Pape’ete for any hope of a job. Families were separated; it’s a culture that’s struggling to adapt to modern times. It was one of the most incredible places i’ve ever visited, with some of the kindest people. It always pays to just sit and listen… never be in too much a hurry to do that simple act.
If you were stranded on an island what five items would you have with you?
- A good knife
- A magical desalinization filter for water
- Some form of cordage
- First-aid kit (I always seem to dip into mine while on shoots!)
- And a savvy, adventurous friend!
If you could have one super power what would it be?
The ability to fly places quickly. Or tele-port. Something to alleviate the sometimes 2-3 journey to get back to home base.
What are five items you don't leave home with when going out on an adventure?
- The camera gear (of course)
- A good notebook and pen (Moleskines are my favorite)
- Some form of first-aid kit (see above)
- Solid footwear… I want all my gear to fit and move smoothly. The focus needs to be on the job, not on uncomfortable footwear or clothing!
If you could go fishing anywhere in the world where would it be?
I’m very keen to go fish in Africa; the fisheries there are very unique and I think the combination of the landscape and the culture would produce some fascinating imagery. I’m also already very eager to get back to the Amazon… even though as I write this I’ve only been back for three days. Some places just draw you in!
If you could meet any adventurer in history who would it be?
T.E. Lawrence. What an interesting life… I’ve always enjoyed reading about him and would love to sit around a table and simply listen to his stories.