5 Career-Defining Photos: Jeremy Chou

In every photographer's career, there are defining moments. The moments that inspire an evolution in their art. The moments that open new opportunities for their business. The moments that remind them of where they have been and where they are going.

In this blog series, Richard asks film photographers to share the stories behind five frames throughout their career that most embody these moments. Today, photographer Jeremy Chou shares his journey, from the first time he was captivated by the magic of film to the largest photoshoot production of his 10-year career.

Southern California, December 2011

This was my first ever 35mm portrait shot for a client. I remember the feeling I had when I first saw the image. All of a sudden, photography made sense to me. This is the type of imagery that I wanted to capture for my clients. This was the ‘feeling’ I had been chasing since I picked up a camera back in 2008. I remember staring at this image, and I couldn’t believe I created it. At that point, I knew I would spend the rest of my life pursuing that feeling of satisfaction again. 

Photo 2

San Francisco, August 2016

I spent the next five years refining my approach to photography. There was a lot of self discovery, self doubt, and I almost quit photography a few times. I felt like I had finally mastered metering and picking out the right film stock, but something was missing in my images. I realized that my subjects looked static and lifeless. So, I concentrated on capturing images that felt like the subject was moving, even though it was a static moment in time. This image is from an an important shoot because I realized that I can create the images I imagined. I placed the subject on the cliff in Bodega Bay, and as soon as the wind hit her, I knew I had the shot. 

Photo 3

Portland, October 2016

By this time, my work had shifted into more fine-art portraiture than photojournalism. I spent a year trying to perfect my approach to capturing a bride in the most feminine, artistic way possible. I realized that the most simple looking portrait is actually the hardest to execute. How do you control your subject and the mood of an image while keeping everything natural? I learned that the absolute smallest variations in the subject's body language, breathing, and gaze all contributed to completely different moods in an image.

Tuscany, Italy. May 2017

At this point in my career, I wanted to break into the international/destination market. Even though I’d shot in Asia, South America, and all over United States, I had yet to shoot in Europe (let alone even visit a European country). I set out to host my first European workshop at the beautiful Villa Medicea near Tuscany. This image was captured in a 600-year-old room that made the perfect backdrop for one of the most iconic images I’ve ever captured. It was also a turning point in the workshops I offer. It took me from a standard photography workshop to a completely elevated experience for my attendees.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, August 2018

I was hired to shoot a large bridal campaign for a luxury resort in Mexico. It was a three-day shoot with six different concepts—the largest production (both literally and figuratively) I’ve ever been involved with. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I felt like the almost 10 years of work I’d put into this industry that I love so much, my craft, my business, had finally come full circle. At times, believing in myself has been the biggest struggle I’ve had. But somehow, 10 years later, I’m still doing something I absolutely love. My camera has taken me around the world, and I am so thankful that I’ve been able to make photography my living!