Jesse Hoffman Photographs His Way Through Life
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Jesse Hoffman, and AHS alum from class of 2010, has spent his post-grad years exploring the outdoors and pursuing his passion for photography. While “living the dream,” he has turned his passion into a career. Now a professional photographer, Hoffman recently spent time in Antarctica, and last week, he told the story of his adventure at an ACES Potbelly Perspective event. After watching his compelling presentation, I was fortunate enough to chat with him about his childhood growing up in Aspen, his time at AHS, participating in Ex-Ed, and how it all lead him to a career in photography.
“Growing up in Aspen and going through this school system fosters an appreciation and respect for being outside,” Hoffman said. “This all starts with ACES classes and cross country skiing, in elementary school and culminates with the incredible Ex-Ed opportunities at the high school level.”
He told me that when he got to college and he started making tough decisions about what he wanted to do, one thing was clear.
“I knew that I wanted to work in a field that would allow me to spend the majority of my time in the outdoors,” explained Hoffman.
As a freelance photographer, Hoffman ultimately hopes to work for a company “in house” one day but for now enjoys the variety and flexibility that comes with the life of a freelance photographer. His day-to-day life changes whether or not he has a shoot, or is editing.
“The freelance lifestyle is a tough one and a definite hustle, you constantly have to be out there promoting yourself to find more work, Hoffman noted. “Most people think I’m outside all day, but editing is a huge part of the job.”
He adds that he doesn’t compare his lifestyle to a desk job because he’s aware of how lucky he is to work in a situation that allows so much flexibility and so much time outside.
“I couldn’t work a 9 to 5 job, and this profession lets me spend as little time as possible at a desk,” Hoffman added.
Photography has changed rapidly over the last few decades, and is something easily accessible to many people so there is a lot of competition for work. As a photographer, this has pushed Hoffman to find unique angles to differentiate his work.
“You can look at it as a challenge to rise above, and find a way to separate yourself from the crowd,” Hoffman said. “From that stems some insecurity about your own talent. The biggest struggle is having the motivation and confidence to tell myself that I can do it.”
The biggest job of a photographer is telling a story, whether Hoffman is shooting a brand or for himself.
“I want to tell a story that paints the full picture, not just one moment in time,” explained Hoffman. “Sometimes it’s about a lot more than one photo, person, or setting that your shooting. The best and most important photos are not only captivating images, but they are images that can compel someone to take action or to make an emotional connection with the subject.”
Looking back on his time at AHS, Hoffman says there are a few things he would have told his teenage self.
“Keeping in touch with your friends and teachers and always being a genuinely good person will open so many doors,” Hoffman said. “I’ve seen really talented people lose their jobs because they’re no fun to work with,”
And, he says no one should take their future too seriously.
“Don’t write off your passion because you don’t think it’s feasible, or it’s bad choice because society tells you to get a degree in business,” Hoffman said. “If you really want to do something badly enough and you have that drive then I really do think you can make it happen.”