As a teenager, Jeff Baker tried to get into photography, but his high school wouldn’t allow it. His schedule was packed with advanced placement classes so Jeff’s academic counselors didn’t permit him to take any art electives. “I was kind of bitter about it really,” says Baker, now 32 years old.
He followed that strict academic track all the way to the University of California, Irvine, where Baker was pre-med with his sights set on being an optometrist. To make a long story short, he basically flunked out of the program, started snowboarding and switched to a liberal arts major that allowed time for electives—and you guessed it: photography classes. After graduation, he moved to Mammoth and spent his time shooting hot local snowboarders. While shopping his action shots around, freelance-style, Baker landed a job as assistant photo editor at Snowboarder magazine.
Before he knew it, the dotcom revolution lured away nearly the entire Snowboarder staff and Baker was left to take charge as photo editor with just a year of experience under his belt. He quickly learned the ropes and ultimately, in 2004, left with his friend Mark Sullivan to establish Snowboard magazine. These days, at the helm of Snowboard, he’s in charge of everything from photography to design to editing and writing articles.
On new trends in photography:
“Less Darkroom, more Photoshop. If a person wants to get into photography, he needs money, rather than the eye. Not that cool, but it’s the sign of the times. Evolution, I guess. Not too many clients or magazine’s want film these days, so digital is a must.”
Weird Jeff Baker Factoid:
“It’s a fact that it is impossible to shoot a picture of me with a flash where I do not look completely baked. My eyes just squint on every photo. I can’t control it. My eyes see the flash and the camera catches me right before I blink. So I’ve challenged all the professional photographers I know to shoot a picture of me where I don’t look totally stoned, but no one’s been able to do it.”