7 Questions with Jovani Demetrie
- Where’d it all start?
When I was in college I took my first solo trip to Europe. I didn't take much with me, but I brought along a camera and a tripod. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and go set up at the Louvre or the Colosseum to photograph it when no one was around. But it really wasn’t until I met my wife, Anastasia, that she made me believe I could do photography for a living. We are both wanderers and fascinated by the idea of exploration, so we packed up and traveled for two years. I shot almost every day. As the trip went on I would pick up camera equipment at shops in Asia, Europe, and even bought a lens while we were in Alaska. When we finally came home, I was a professional photographer. It’s been my only job ever since.
- Favorite photo you’ve taken and why?
I have this shot that I took in Tuscany, in the Piazza del Campo in Siena. I was actually sitting there writing my wedding vows, we were getting married in Italy about a week later. I noticed an elderly man with a cane walking through the piazza. There was something really simple, but also striking about his presence there, like he was just meant to be a part of that place. I imagined he’d lived there his whole life and had done this walk every day. I grabbed my camera and got a shot of him. It’s now framed in our home in Brooklyn.
- Where do you want to shoot next?
The top of my bucket list is definitely Antarctica. It’s the only continent I haven’t shot on yet, so it’s a must do at some point.
- Craziest moment you’ve had while shooting or traveling for a shoot?
Ha! Too many to count. There was a night swim in what I later found out to be shark-infested water, a rabid dog encounter on a tiny volcanic greek island, a Russian cabbie that tried to rob us. Those are the first few that pop in my head. Just a couple weeks ago, my wife and I had a brief encounter with a massive rattlesnake while I was shooting in Sedona, AZ. When you travel as much as I have crazy things are bound to happen.
- Favorite photographer / artistic inspiration?
There are so many great photographers that I draw inspiration from. I love delving into Ansel Adams old books on film photography: The Print, The Negative, & The Camera. Stripping away all the digital aspects and re-focusing on nothing but shadow, light, exposure, composition, and above all, patience. I’m inspired by the work of Sebastião Salgado for the same reasons. I was blown away by his photography on a trip to Sweden where I got to see his exhibit, Genesis, at Fotografiska Stockholm. Most recently I have been obsessed with the fine art, still life, and portraiture work of Julia Hetta. She is a Swedish photographer. Her work has this incredible painterly quality, and it just tugs at my heart in all the right ways.
- Favorite book, TV show, or movie from the past year?
Drive to Survive on Netflix. It's a docu-series about Formula 1 racing, and I was in no way a racing fan before watching this show, but I was hooked by the series immediately. I always love documentaries that show people at the top of their game, whatever it is. Drivers, chefs, athletes, artists. I am inspired by passion but also by risk-taking - the stuff you need to function at the highest level in just about anything. Oh, also the show Ted Lasso. That one is definitely my favorite scripted series of the past year.
- Last meal on earth? (food, setting, people, etc.)
I love this question. Chefs and cooks and how they use food as a medium for art is another thing that truly inspires me. Sometimes I feel like I travel just to experience local cuisine. I’ve been really fortunate to dine at some of the best restaurants in the world, but if it was my last meal the setting would definitely be Mexico City. I’m Mexican-American, so that food is like home. Mexico City truly has one of the most exciting food scenes in the world. My meal of choice would be some perfect carne asada street tacos, the aged mole from Pujol, and my Grandma’s famous (to me anyway) Pozole Rojo. All of this at a big table with my wife and my family.