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Student Jake Stout’s Photography Journey: From Passion to Professional

Photo courtesy of Jake Stout.

Jake Stout.

From the time he was nine years-old, third-year student Jake Stout, Media Arts major, has always had a passion for photography. It has been a large part of his growth, finding it to be a reliable “cathartic release from life.” 

Jake chose to attend Northeastern largely because of the co-op program, combined with the praise he had heard about the photography program specifically. He has not been disappointed, noting that Photography 1 with Dana Mueller offered him a fresh perspective into photography and that

Northeastern’s photography classes push you to think more conceptually.

This perspective became invaluable when Jake was given the distinct opportunity to work with Brian Skerry, a National Geographic Photography Fellow. Skerry is regarded as one of the best underwater photographers in the world and has completed nearly twenty-eight stories with National Geographic since he started with the company in 1998. Jake met Skerry while working as an intern for Boston Sea Rovers, which is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to increasing awareness and appreciation of the marine environment.

Last semester, Jake was offered an experiential learning opportunity to work with Skerry on a project for National Geographic. The project took place in the Gulf of Maine and centers around the importance of the gulf and its impact on both the community and marine life. Jake recently completed a short documentary highlighting his research and photography/videography which can be viewed here. Much of Jake’s time on co-op was spent researching ecosystems, animals and speaking with fishermen and scientists to better understand the importance of the Gulf of Maine.

“90% of photography projects are research,” said Jake.

Photography is the bridge between science and art; the real goal of underwater photography is to make people care about your subjects so they can protect them.

When Jake is not working with National Geographic, he is busy working on projects that he produces himself. He is currently working on a project to take viewers into the world of snapping turtles. Last year, when classes went remote, Jake spent a considerable amount of time on a small lake in New Hampshire. He went snorkeling almost every day and tried to capture images of snapping turtles.

“Snapping turtles are calm and docile, some swam right up to me and most are large and weigh upwards of 30-40 pounds,” he described. “I wanted to show them as a calm and curious animal rather than the prehistoric looking hissing creature most people encounter on the side of a road.”

He spent weeks observing four snapping turtles, gaining their trust, and observing them in their natural habitat. After weeks of photographing Jake was able to capture a “holy grail” image when a snapping turtle came up to the surface of the lake. 

Photo courtesy of Jake Stout.

In addition to his impressive photography background, Jake also has a relationship with Backscatter, one of the world’s largest underwater camera and underwater photography equipment suppliers. The company sends Jake gear to use and test when he goes out on dives.

“Every single dive is amazing; I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad one,” commented Jake. Jake has also learned from Berkley White, owner and founder of Backscatter, and is grateful to have learned so many techniques when it comes to photography. 

When looking ahead to what’s next for Jake, he plans on continuing his project exploring the lake in New Hampshire and capturing more unique and exceptional photographs. One day Jake would love to travel to the kelp forests in New Zealand and South Africa to photograph the diverse landscapes and underwater life. To learn more about Jake’s photography, visit his website