Saturday, June 27, 2015

Photographer Profile: Jason Odell

Posted By on Sat, Jun 27, 2015 at 6:48 AM

click to enlarge Sunset over Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO. - JASON ODELL
  • Jason Odell
  • Sunset over Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO.
"At the end of the day it’s about making people happy. I do photography to make myself happy. I teach photography to make my students happy."

That’s Jason Odell’s answer to why a PHD in animal physiology and evolutionary biology left corporate America and became a highly-regarded wildlife photographer and instructor. But this doesn’t mean his skill set isn’t put to good use.

"So much of my experience in getting a doctorate involved learning something that I didn’t realize I was learning along the way. Writing, teaching and technical, I’m using all of the stuff I learned,” he says. 

Odell also says his time spent as a teaching assistant is huge asset to teaching photography. “It’s what I really enjoy about teaching. I’m watching the light bulb turn on and I see it in people’s eyes. 'Oh, I get it' That’s where I derive a lot of personal satisfaction.”  

His scenic landscapes and wildlife photographs are the real deal, and he only does a handful of intimate workshops (two instructors and no more than 10 students) every year. One of his favorites trips is to South Texas to photograph song birds. Photographing birds? That’s a technical challenge and difficult to do well, even for the seasoned professional.

"It’s very difficult to fill the frame of a camera with a small bird. It takes a lot of lens and you have to be quite close,” he says. 

His journey as photographer began in 2004 when took a job in Colorado Springs after getting his doctorate at UC Riverside. He quickly got bored and decided he wasn’t up to warming a seat in an office cubicle. 

“You certainly learn what you don’t want to do. I decided to do what I liked to do. I like animals. I like the outdoors and I enjoy teaching,” he says. "I get to do something I didn’t get to do when I was working in corporate America. Something that is intellectually challenging and creative."

His next project is teaching how to shoot the urban landscape, and teamed up with well-known travel photographer, Deborah Sandidge for workshops in Chicago and South Beach this year. The idea is to teach people how to make great travel pictures.

"When people travel they’re usually on and off a bus and onto the next thing. This workshop is designed for people who want to take pictures. We make it a point to go to places to photograph them. This is really for people who love to travel,” he says.  

And the challenge in urban settings? Making one-of-a-kind pictures. 

"We try to impart a skill set that allows them to tackle a variety of subjects, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, and still come away with an image that is different than everyone else." he explains. "We show people how to do multiple exposures, light painting, long exposures, infrared photography, cinema graphs, light trails etc… You don’t always get to go to a spot at the perfect time. So, what do you do? In this workshop, we show them."

Colorado Springs wedding photographer Sean Cayton loves remarkable photographs and the stories behind them. You can see his wedding work at, his personal work at and his editorial work in the Colorado Springs Independent. Submit your photo and the story behind the image - no more than two a week, please - to for consideration in upcoming blogs.

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