with Jeremy M Lange, freelance photographer
Name: Jeremy M Lange
Field: freelance photography
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a professional photographer?
Jeremy – Probably when I was around 24 or 25. I had been a carpenter all over the east coast for several years & was unfulfilled & tired of it. I used to shoot a lot of photos when I was younger & felt it was always something I wanted to do but thought it ridiculous to try & make a living doing it. I rented some darkroom space in Carrboro & started shooting again, went back to school & here we are.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your photography career?
Jeremy – Meeting my wife in school, moving to Mexico after school & just working on whatever projects I wanted to for a few months, covering the 2006 Mexican presidential elections & civil unrest, & getting my 1st photo in the New York Times, my parents’ paper. I always get a great, somewhat self-absorbed feeling of accomplishment when I see my photo in a publication or when I just take a good photograph.
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Jeremy – In 2006. We, me & my wife Alicia, had talked about it & it was something we both wanted to do, but I was hesitant, but also realized I did not want to be real old & have a newborn, you are really never ready.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
Jeremy – Positive - It gives me something to work for, other than myself & the duties I feel as primarily a journalist. I want them to be proud of me, it makes me look at things in a much more open way, I was certainly more sullen & detached before I had a family. Negative - Although my wife is incredibly supportive of what I want & need to do professionally, it can be hard to justify leaving for long periods to work on stories. I still do it, but not as much as I would if it was just me.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
Jeremy – Positive - I am happy working & it bleeds into the rest of my life & attitude. When I am happy with my work & feel fulfilled in that way, I am a better person. Negative - I am gone a lot & very obsessive about what I feel I NEED to do. I can easily get lost in my work & neglect things outside of that that are of equal or greater importance. I like to think I am better about it now than I used to be, but at times that is probably not the case. They know that I unequivocally love them, but my work does get in the way sometimes.
QRD – Has your child effected the pictures you take &/or appreciate looking at?
Jeremy – Being a parent makes you a sucker for any photo/film about kids getting hurt. I could look at anything, no matter how terrible, before I had a child & be affected, but not overly. Now I am a softy, still able to look & function, but if effects me a on a much more personal level. I have photographed several parents in the last couple of years who have lost children in the wars in the Middle East & I feel like I can relate to their loss on a much more personal level than I would have been able to years ago.
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a photography career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
Jeremy – Yes, it can be stressful, especially since much of my income is from freelance work. When the phone does not ring you start to worry. We get through, so far, & you cannot dwell on it, but always in the back of my mind I am thinking about whether I have done enough paying work for the month to cover my share of the bills.
QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on being a traveling photographer, would you have done this more earlier in life if you’d known?
Jeremy – I guess that would have made it easier, but I came to professional photography a bit later than some, late 20’s, & this is just the way it worked for me. Having no other responsibilities could make some things easier, but I would not trade my life for anything.
QRD – Do you think being a father or a photographer has a greater impact on your community?
Jeremy – I think that good, powerful photography can better the communities it speaks to & change things; I would not do it otherwise. I also think that raising informed children can do the same, but in different ways. The work can bring important issues into the public sphere of attention & discussion, it is then up to the public, including the children we raise, to do something about it.
QRD – Would you rather see your child eventually become an artist of some sort or parent?
Jeremy – Both, or whatever else they want to be. I am real open to all the possibilities of what my kid(s) want to be. I fought for years with my parents about my choices in life & I hope to not force my kids to do the same.
QRD – Both family & art seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
Jeremy – Well some weeks, badly in others. Being a successful freelance photographer takes a ton of work, outside of actually making photographs, promotion, paper work, computer time, etc. The only thing that probably takes more time is being a good parent. I am trying to be both & I know I am not always there, but I try & I think it splits 50/50 most of the time. I need to work to support my family, but I need my family to support my well being.
QRD – What does your daughter think of your photos?
Jeremy – Not much, she is only 2, but we are working on it.
QRD – Do you end up taking candid photos of your daughter way too seriously?
Jeremy – Probably, but between me & my wife, she is also a photographer; I like to think we have some of the best kid photos out there.
QRD – Would you ever use your daughter for a photo shoot?
Jeremy – Depends on the subject. For purely commercial ends, absolutely not, but if it was for a cause we believed in strongly, I would consider it. I do not make that decision lightly nor alone.
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Jeremy – As ridiculous as it sounds to call oneself an “artist” or photographer or whatever, at the end of the day there is nothing better than knowing that you are proud of what you did that day & that it meant something to someone. If you believe in a goal you can get there, but it is really hard & very few are lucky, so work as hard as you possibly can to make it happen.