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The wakeboarding and wakeskating industries are lucky as hell to have some of the most talented photographers in the world dedicate their time, passion, and creativity to documenting them. Without the photographers all the stuff you read in the magazines or see on the Internet would be a hell of a lot less interesting. Let’s face it, by this point you’re probably not even reading anymore and are looking at the photos in this article. We figured it was time for you guys to get to know the names in the corners of the photos, the guys behind the lenses and we’re starting off with Jason Lee.
I remember first seeing Jason Lee’s name as the photographer behind the cover of the October/November 2004 issue of Alliance. It was Alliance’s first ever foldout cover and the shot of Steve McKinley’s tweaked out melan grab at the incomparable Lake Powell was insane. I actually had three thoughts go through my head when I saw that cover.
1. Who the hell is Jason Lee and how did he get on the Liquid Force team trip to Powell?!?!
2. Damn, this Jason Lee guy got a cover before me!
3. It’s pretty cool that there’s an Asian photographer in the wake scene now…
Six months later I was working full time for Alliance and had made the move to Orlando. I quickly learned that Jason was not only an awesome guy with a bunch of talent, but he was also white, blonde, and from middle of America Illinois… so my Asian assumptions were slightly off.
Over the years Jason has established himself as one of the leaders in the industry when it comes to making unique wakeboarding photos. Most of the time he lets his photography do the talking, and that’s not a bad thing. Jason’s easy-going demeanor makes him a favorite for riders to shoot with and I always look forward to getting submissions from him or sending him on an assignment for the magazine.
We asked Jason to send us over some of his favorite photos, tell some stories, and answer a few of our questions.
Name: Jason Gerald Lee
Hometown: Crystal Lake, Illinois
How did you get into photography and how did you get into wakeboarding? What lead you to combine the two?
JL: As a little kid I remember always enjoying when my dad would let me shoot a frame or two on his camera when we were on family vacations or out and about. I don’t think it was until junior high/high school when I took my first photo class, making a pinhole camera out of a cardboard box, developing and printing in the darkroom… all that stuff. I started
getting into photography a little more and would shoot my friends skateboarding, snowboarding and eventually wakeboarding. After high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I wanted to live somewhere warm. Then I discovered that Daytona Beach Community College had a photography program. I made the move down to Orlando to go to school, be able to ride and enjoy the water year round. Luckily I met and started hanging out with Josh Sanders when I first moved to Orlando. He introduced me to a lot of the other riders and the people who worked at the magazines and before I knew it I was turning this photography thing into a job.
What is your favorite thing about shooting wakeboarding?
JL: I get to be outside playing in the water all the time, basically doing the same stuff I did when I was a kid… that’s pretty cool when I think about it.
JL: 4AM wake up calls, 20+mph winds, boat full of half naked dudes, running out of gas in the middle of the lake…
In your opinion what makes a good wakeboarding photo?
JL: A photo that tells a story or lets you know what’s going on. That’s what I like to see. Proper exposures and all that technical crap is good, but then again, it’s photography, there’s no rules to what’s right or what’s wrong. Anything goes!
What’s your favorite published photo?
JL: I don’t think I have a favorite. I’ve had a lot of photos that I’ve been stoked on that never made it to print. Recently though I’ve had fun shooting all the CTi ads, the up close shots of Collin and Rattray. I shot a photo of Reeder doing a back tail on a flat bar this past year. I was riding right next to him, so he would lock on the rail and I basically had my camera resting on the tip of his board the whole length of the rail. That was fun and we got some cool shots from that day.
Got a good “oh shit!” story from shooting wakeboarding? Near death experience or something?
JL: I’ve only had one close call, and that was recently with Bob Soven. I don’t want to say too much about it but I almost got taken out and could have easily been rushed to the hospital. I’ve witnessed a few rider injuries in person, which is never fun.
Do you have a favorite rider or riders you really enjoy shooting with? Why?
JL: I don’t necessarily have a favorite rider to shoot with, but I always like shooting with people who are motivated to shoot. That’s when the best results happen.
Facebook: I have it, but I’m not that into it.
Twitter: same as above, but I’m into the Instagram thing.