We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Weiss and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jason, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?

The preparation that goes into a shoot! It’s not always as simple as pulling off the side of a road, taking out your camera and shooting. Instead, there are several factors that go into a shoot i.e. if you’re climbing a peak to photograph from the summit, you must study the technicality of the climb, the weather, where will the light hit, etc.

My friend, Hayden Boyle, and I love to shoot from the highest peaks in Colorado, mainly 14ers and 13ers. The best light is at sunrise and sunset. Thus, we often climb up/down in the darkness. So we must make sure it is reasonable and safe to climb a certain route through the night. And we must also check a detailed weather forecast to make sure we have a clear weather window. The mountains are indifferent to us, so taking the necessary precautions beforehand is paramount. A handful of these climbs have required start times the night before (i.e. 11 pm) in order to ensure we are on the summit ready to shoot by dawn/sunrise. This has led to several all-nighters, usually one or two a week, to summit in time. Staying warm is a huge challenge as well as making sure your camera batteries don’t die. Thank goodness for adrenaline!

When we view a beautiful photo, we sometimes don’t realize what went into getting that shot. Hopefully readers here will better appreciate all the planning and effort that goes into an objective. There is nothing like the feeling of standing atop a summit, having just climbed several hours in the darkness in brutally cold weather, to see and photograph one of the most beautiful moments you will ever witness – sunrise over the Rockies.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What gets me excited are the beautiful mountain ranges I have yet to explore, combined with further exploring the ranges I have been fortunate to visit thus far. Thousands of peaks around the world beg to be climbed and just the thought of heading into the mountains, for weeks on end, whether it’s in the Alaska Range, the Peruvian Andes, the Himalaya, the Southern Alps in New Zealand, gets me going like nothing else. We are so fortunate to have so many epic mountain ranges, both here in the US and elsewhere, to explore and I look forward to getting up close with these beautiful mountains here soon.

One lesson I’ve learned is to have patience. You can do everything you need to in order to be on a summit by sunrise but if the conditions aren’t ideal, you often have to accept the situation and remember the mountain isn’t going anywhere. For instance, there have been instances when I have pulled an all nighter only to arrive on the summit for sunrise to get socked in by weather, making it difficult to get a quality shot. You learn that you aren’t going to get perfect light every time but the more often you put yourself in a position to get a quality shot the better shots you will likely get through time. Thus, patience and perseverance are key.

We all have seen pictures of the Maroon Bells, Yosemite, Yellowstone – those iconic spots we always hear and dream about. I want to help showcase some of the lesser known areas; spots that often require days of backpacking to access. Don’t get me wrong: Yosemite Valley is an incredible place, but sometimes as photographers we get fixated on shooting these iconic places. I do it all the time 🙂 Heading into the backcountry and climbing peaks is the best solution for this. And even if you are in a place like Yosemite, getting into the backcountry can inspire endless exploration, allowing you to connect deeper with a place. Whether it’s the North Cascades, Sierra Nevada, or the Rockies, there is hardly a better feeling than standing on top of a remote peak at dawn, seeing the sun on the horizon. It’s my favorite way to shoot and I can’t wait to see many sunrises on top of the Andes, Himalaya, Alps, etc. for years to come!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
No question where I am headed: The San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado! By far my favorite mountains in the state. So many awesome towns as well: Ridgway, Ouray, Telluride, Silverton, Durango, Lake City! I consider myself a foodie so no trip to the San Juans is complete without a trip to Taco Del Gnar in Ridgway. Next up is Ouray Brewery, which has a sweet rooftop patio with awesome views of the surrounding area. My other favorite activity in the San Juans: via ferrata climbing. What’s neat is Ouray and Telluride both have routes and they each have a different feel. If you dig exposure, go check out ‘the main event’ on the Telluride via route. If you don’t feel comfortable you can always hire a guide as well (both towns have guiding services available). There are also hundreds of gorgeous trails and peaks in the nearby areas; good luck taking it all in within a weekend 😉

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The outdoor community as a whole! One of the most beautiful things in life is seeing someone pursue their passion to no end and there are so many amazing adventurers in this community who have done so. A few that come to mind are Fred Beckey, Marc-André Leclerc, Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold (along with many others). These people have lived life to the fullest and have been an inspiration to challenge yourself and to follow your own passion. You only get one life; better do what makes you feel most alive.

There are a few photographers that have been an inspiration as well: Jack Brauer, Dave Morrow, Glenn Randall, Matt Payne, Erik Stensland & Hayden Boyle. Go check out their amazing work!

Website: https://www.jasonweissphotography.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jasonweissphotography/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.