Dewitt Jones: National Geographic Photographer, Inspirational Speaker & Authority on Creativity

globetrotting DeWitt Jones has spent 20 years as a freelance photographer for National Geographic when he wasn't shooting photos for the prestigious magazine DeWitt was making Academy award-nominated films an accomplished studio photographer as well as a top photojournalist DeWitt has created award-winning ad campaigns for many of America's leading brands as a writer he's published 9 books covering topics from nature to leadership with a lifetime of experience in the arts DeWitt Jones understands the power of creativity and how to inspire others to tap this valuable resource and enrich their lives you there's more than one right answer kind it seems so simple but it is the key to creativity there are a thousand ways to come in any challenge to find that extraordinary view and I know it's so easily for my photography but sometimes it's just so hard to bring over into the rest of my life they sent me one time to the little town called Smith River they raised about 80% of the Easter lilies in the country around that village and that's the story I have to tell and I've got a perspective where I got picked lilies and unpicked lilies and the boy picking them and good body languages he puts him in the box a little bit of the region's architecture and the weather one right answer pretty good one but boy as a photographer I'd never think of stopping there I took that photograph immediately I grabbed another lens walked over a couple rows knelt down and found another right answer same parameters of the problem now seen from a totally different point of view and my favorite right answer that day was this one this is an advanced levitation technique that I'll be teaching just after the break somebody had a chopper in the fields I get a ride get up a couple hundred feet look down see the extraordinary in the ordinary three right answers so many things begin to change when you really come at the world from that perspective of more than one right answer I said I'd share with you some of the techniques I used to do that and I want to show you some of my images but I'm not here to teach you photography it's simply that the principles that I use in coming up with an extraordinary vision are the same principles that I'd use in running a company or dealing with a client first decision I have to make is a photographer's what lens do I have on the camera what lens do I have in the camera in other words what perspective am I going to view that challenge from to find an extraordinary view and I know that if I don't have the right perspective I don't have a chance this is a shot I took of Yosemite Falls not a bad image I've already gotten rid of a lot of things that might distract you from looking at the Falls like the parking lot I'm standing in at the visitors center you know but as I stood in front of the Falls that day I thought is this the essence to it is this what got you so excited that you ran all the way across the field the meadow to get in that stage yet in that position and I realized it wasn't there what had drawn my eye up there that day was just this area way down here right down at the bottom just that tree just that tree in the falls behind it I had the wrong perspective the wrong angle of view and when I changed that perspective then I really found a photograph now I used that metaphor all the time in my life I'm always saying to it he got the right lens on your camera sometimes we need our telephoto eyes on you know just to go into the the chaos of a given day or are given clients problems to find those elements that we can bring together to make it all make sense and now before I wrap this up let me show you one last example of how all these techniques go together and this not a assignment for the geographic but a big advertising campaign I did for doers scotch and they sent me over to Scotland with an obscene budget and a crew of nine and three clients to watch over me you know no pressure and one of the things they asked me to do was photograph salmon fishing on Scotland's River Tweed and man again I've done my homework I knew what I wanted I came down that windy road to the River Tweed I had images in my head of backlit salmon and silver cataracts and leaping fish and the windy road delivered us and there it was looked like the East Sandusky River the river without drama I turned to my art director I said what are we gonna do he said I don't know I'm carsick I go back to the room so is up to me you know how many times every week is it up to you I got talking to one of the guides the ghillies the gentleman there in the foreground each beat of the river each stretch has a different guide a different Gilly and they know every rock and every show land every riffle and he told me that salmon fishing in Scotland is a very formal affair you were a coat a tie and a hat the chest waders now I'm getting intrigued and then he told me that when you when you catch a salmon you bring it up to the fish hide it in that hot is a leather book and in that book is listed every salmon that's been caught on that beat the last hundred years I'm getting intrigued now I'm seeing this great formal dance that these guys are doing this salmon Givat on the river you know and then he said you know laddie there was mist on the water this morning that's unusual for this time of year and my intellect climbed all over and it said I want to be in the place of most potential so I'm out there two hours before dawn and when the Sun starts coming up I got the boat I got the ghillie I got the fisherman I got the right lens I got the right focus I got my first right answer I got room up there for tight little wallow scotch I know what I'm doing right and then my intuition starts screaming at me it says turn around to it you're shooting the wrong way yes sir I listen to it I turned around man I was really getting nice I'm trying to pay attention to realize that this photograph is made by body language not by facial expression get that right on the two guys and at the same time I my intellect realizes the sun's gonna come up behind those trees so I yelled the guys to get the boat road down there cuz I want to be in the place of most potential and man now it's really getting nice and talked about having my technique down I've got a walkie-talkie in that boat yes I'm not worried about making mistakes I'm just looking for the next right answer and they just kept coming and this was the final ad why would a man rise before dawn to fish for salmon on Scotland's River Tweed why indeed a good things in life stay that way thank you very much you

6 Replies to “Dewitt Jones: National Geographic Photographer, Inspirational Speaker & Authority on Creativity

  1. Awesome! I met Dewitt many years ago at his first National Speakers Association conference, when we happened to sit next to each other. His photography excited me then, and we talked about the potential of using it in keynote speaking! And what a job he has done! He continues to be an inspiration in terms of how he uses it as a metaphor for life. Dewitt, you are doing amazing work … so proud of you! A privilege to know you!
    (Cher Holton, CSP, CMC)

  2. You know a keynote speaker is good when a client texts DURING his presentation to bring him back. Behold Dewitt Jones …

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