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The Man Behind the Camera
by Jamie Turner and photos by Turner Photography Studio
“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” –Alfred Eisenstaedt
If there ever was a photographer that lived by that motto, it was my brother, Jason Turner. He had the uncanny ability to just click, not only with his camera but with the people he surrounded himself with. From his beginnings in a small darkroom in high school, to becoming an award-winning photojournalist and eventually award-winning editorial photographer, Jason always connected with people.
Growing up a twin, there wasn’t much that one brother did that the other didn’t do. Jason was the younger of the two Turner brothers by a measly four minutes and his older brother, being me, never let him forget that. I remem-ber us both at a young age just being religiously enthralled in creating art and the camera came about at an early age. Our father was a bit of a camera hobbyist and toyed around with his own dark-room when we were barely old enough to go to school. As time went by, our drawings gave way to film and by high school the Turners were shooting, developing and printing their early masterpieces in a small darkroom by the instruction of Doris Hoopengardner, or “Hoop,” at Williamsport (Md.) High School, where we graduated in 1989.
We continued our education at Hagerstown Junior College, knowing that we needed college to advance in life, but once again it was photography that interested us both and it was our instructor, Richard Stoecker, that let us shape our photography in a more free-flowing way and Jason’s love for photojournalism was born.
There is always a time in an artist’s life when they need to “find their way” and the next few years for Jason were that, but he ultimately landed a job selling cameras at a small camera shop and his professional journey began. From selling cameras, he progressed and a few years later became a custom printer for photographer Tom Clark, who was a Frederick staple for years. Jason learned the back end of photography by learning what a good print was, how composition and lighting controlled an image and created a mood and a story. Jason got to work with a lot of local photographers and started to connect with people in the industry. His passion for art was starting to pay off and his ability to make friends and have people truly appreciate his talents were becoming evident and would land him an opportunity that mightily shaped his career forever.
Photojournalism was everything to Jason and for the next 10 years of his life he made countless images that gained him recognition, but most importantly he made friendships that lasted a lifetime. Jason was given the opportunity to work at The Journal in Martinsburg, W.Va., as a part-time photographer, and from Day One he considered it his dream job. The thrill of shooting news was everything to him and even when the news was far from exciting, he tried to make his photographs tell stories that excited. Over those 10 years Jason won several West Virginia press awards and became a stringer for the Associated Press, which used many of his photos in national and international publications. It was an exciting time for him and even though his part-time job stretched its way to full-time, the rat race of running from assignment to assignment, literally living out of his car to get the “good story” and the hustle to make a living pushed Jason for more. It pushed him for something more stable and it prepared him for his next journey as an editorial photographer.
Editorial photography for Jason consisted of shooting for magazines, and magazines were a different animal. A new publishing company emerged in Washington County and it produced a high-quality publication, Hagerstown magazine. We both were approached early on by the publisher of this magazine and after consistently shooting for them for about a year, Jason deservingly found himself in charge of up to 15 photographers as director of photography for RidgeRunner Publishing. RidgeRunner was growing and it wasn’t very long before Jason was in charge of photography
for multiple projects and storytelling was the main objective. He led a team of creative minds and made countless friends along the way. Jason’s photography was vibrant, energetic and was a staple to be seen in every issue. His work was consistently featured inside as well as on the cover of all the publications that RidgeRunner produced and his creative ideas were always what stood out. Jason lived, worked and breathed photography and his passion was in full swing the years he worked at RidgeRunner. But Jason was to undergo yet another big change in his career and this one would not only be about photography but about family.
“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” –Michael J. Fox
Family gives you the roots to stand tall and strong. This is a quote I found by an unnamed person but it is exactly what Turner Photography Studio was built upon. As the humble owner of my dream, my passion, my career, Turner Photography, and as a twin brother who always worked closely with his brother but never quite close enough, the time came for us to join forces and become the dynamic duo we always wanted to be. Turner Photography was fortunate enough to grow to the point where Jason and I could work together. At the same time, a relationship was blossoming between Turner Photography and Diversions Publications, owners of Frederick Magazine and many other publications, which helped us build a reputation for ourselves in this great city of Frederick. For the last seven years Jason was everywhere in our community. His smiling face and his charming personality were always with him. He helped shape my business and he was a big part of the community. Being together not only gave us the opportunity to shoot for Frederick Magazine, but it allowed us to pursue our goals as commercial photographers as well, in which we were able to be quite successful. We worked together every day, on good days and bad. We learned together and we learned from each other. Our passion pushed each other to be better, our team grew and we were family. I am ever so humble and proud to know that what we did, what Jason did, somehow made a difference. It put a smile on people’s faces, it helped people tell stories and it entertained.
My brother passed away on June 25, his eighth wedding anniversary. His wife Kathryn and his son Bodie will always be part of our team, because they are family. Colon cancer took his life, but it did not take his spirit, it did not take our memories and it did not take his pictures. From our whole family, we hope you enjoy these few images. They are but a few of many, but they are Jason Turner.