By Audrey Hertel
June 24, 2019

Photographer Jay Douglass sits in The Mill coffee house, flipping through past photos he’s taken. As he slides through dozens of photos, vibrant hues of green, blue, orange and yellow fill the screen of his phone. The colors join together, making vivid photos of nature landscapes. As he talks about how it’s hard for him to pick a favorite, he pulls up a photo he took of a Nebraska Life magazine cover on his phone last June while sitting in a dentist office. 

He scrolls through more photos and comes to the original photo he took, the Lincoln capitol building at Nebraska’s 150th birthday celebration in 2017. The towering building is lit up by the glow of fireworks and lasers in the foreground and background. 

“It was cool. I got a lot of recognition for it,” he said as he smiled. “I bought a few of them, and I’ve got one in a frame at home.”

Douglass’ photography journey began like many photographers, with a point and shoot camera. But in 2014, he decided to purchase a DSLR Nikon D90 he found on eBay and using YouTube tutorials, Douglass taught himself more about photography. He then upgraded to a Nikon D5200 and eventually bought a Nikon D610, which is the camera he uses today. 

Douglass takes photos of live music and weddings, but nature photography is his favorite. 

His eyes lit up as he described the unpredictability of landscape photography found in the changing colors of the sky at sunset and the movement of the clouds. 

“Things change so quick. It’s different,” he said. “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

For Douglass, the biggest reward of photography and taking photos is going out and enjoying nature. 

“The biggest reward is just doing it,” he said. “The photo is just extra.” 

Douglass has gone outside and taken photos so many times, he has lost count. And because he has taken so many photos, he has seen a growth in his photography since his point and shoot beginnings, especially in his composition.

“The biggest change I see is my composition and some of the detail stuff,” he said. “But composition, that’s the best. That’s where the best photos are.”

Douglass talked about how he tries to have those who look at his photos feel as though they were in the moment with him. He described how a good photo isn’t the result of an expensive camera. A powerful photo is a product of the drive and adaptability of the photographer.

“That’s like going to a chef and saying, ‘Oh, you must have great pans to cook food this good,’” he said as he laughed. 

For Douglass to capture one of his photos, he goes and sits outside with a tripod and occasionally a cooler, and he looks for the details many people ignore in nature — whether it be water that looks like a sheet of glass or varying colors in the clouds. 

‘It’s cool to see that because most people don’t notice it” he said. “They’re looking at their phone or whatever, but me, I like to be in the moment when I’m doing that stuff.

As for the future of his photography, Douglass said he wants to continue to strengthen his composition. Douglass has had goals in the past of capturing subjects like lightning or bald eagles and said he is always ready to take on another challenge.

“Whatever is out there, I’ll go for it.”

Audrey Hertel is a multimedia intern with KZUM.

You can follow Jay Douglass’s photography here.

The cover photo on this page is by Tom Joyce.