I was born and raised in Camden, NJ. I’ve been doing art in some form or fashion for most of my life. I started out drawing superhero characters I saw in comic books. Once I got to high school I learned how to paint and after I graduated I joined the Army where I served for 10 years. During my time in the Army I dipped my feet into Graphic Design and Digital Illustration, but it wasn’t until I left the military and went to college at Fayetteville Tech that I started taking Graphic Design seriously. However during my studies I had to take couple of photography courses and fell completely in love with it.
I consumed all things photography and anything related to it. Fast forward to 2004, I left college and started doing portraiture out of my house, where I still shoot from time to time, and then I discovered drones and the world of 360 photography and added those to my creative arsenal. I’ve been able to use the skills I learned and was able to combine them into what is now JRoss Photography – Fayetteville, NC, where I create traditional as well as custom portraits, sports banners, posters, and wall art. When people ask me what I do as far as art, my answer is usually “that depends on what you want done.”
3 Things that make my life richer:
1. My family makes my life richer because they are my biggest cheerleaders. Whenever I have to go on location for a shoot I can always count on my wife, sons, or even one of my nephews or nieces to help me with anything I may need. I use my wife as my unbiased art critic whenever I create something because she will definitely tell me if what I create sucks or not. Fun fact: my wife and mother-in law went in to buy me my first professional DSLR camera so I guess you could say they were my first investors!
2. Art makes my life richer because I always try and figure out how a particular piece of art was created. The colors the artist used, the thought process behind it…I mean everything. Whenever I’m around art of any type, whether it’s music, video, traditional, etc, I just feel at peace in that moment because I can embrace what the artist created for that moment and put my troubles to the side.
3. Education makes my life richer. I’m a firm believer in the saying; you’re never too old to learn something new. I will find myself watching a random YouTube video on a skill that I might be able to use to create some art, and before I realize it; a few hours will have went by. I just find learning something new exciting and fun.
Local artist I admire: I really don’t know a lot of local artists; I have however gotten the chance to work with a talented music artist named Jamie Davis. I met him at an art show we both were featured in and I ended up creating the album art for his project entitled The Village. I admire the fact that he takes his art seriously and the fact the he gives back to his community.
One of my current artistic experiments: I’ve been delving deep into the 360 Photography / Tiny Planet branch of the photography tree. I first saw Ben Claremont (the top 360 photographer in the world) on YouTube about a year ago, and saw how he creates his tiny planets, so I bought a 360 Camera and have been creating Tiny Planets ever since, when I’m not taking portraits. I eventually want to get a coffee table book of all my 360 planets.
What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? Like most businesses that deal with customer service, when the pandemic hit, I had to adjust from doing studio sessions to doing more on location sessions. That’s also when I took up doing 360 Photography, and yes I plan on keeping it.
Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. I have a spare room in my house to store my equipment and where I work on new designs. It’s usually messy…I’ll just leave it at that. When I have a shoot I’ll either use my living room, or dining area, otherwise I’ll most likely be on location.
How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? For my 360 photography, I’ll usually ride around town, or even go out of town and just look for interesting buildings, bridges, trees, etc. Basically anywhere that I think would look good as a Tiny Planet. I’ll usually spend a few hours shooting at a space and then cull the images to create a tiny planet.
Advice to newer artists in your genre: I honestly don’t know too many 360 Photographers, but as far as photography in general: never stop learning new techniques, absorb everything you can from more experienced photographers, learn how to take constructive criticism, and most of all remember: YOU are the artist, so create art that makes YOU happy.