Local Photographer Acknowledgments

Samantha Salcido, Community and Culture Section Editor

It took a few birds and a pair of binoculars for Jan’s passion for photography to spark. Local photographer Jan Schmidtchen (DPHS ‘24) speaks on how to begin your own photography journey. 

In elementary school Jan started out with wildlife photography to “showcase the birds I saw out in nature.” Schmidtchen’s goal was to try and see as many birds out in nature as possible, and she quickly discovered the best way to freeze the moment was through taking a photo. “I started picking up my parents’ cameras as much as I could, and then worked really hard to eventually buy my first lens.” Jan explained, “Starting out young helped me to experiment with different equipment to figure out what fit best for me.” 

Schmidtchen continued providing tips for anyone interested in becoming professional. “You have to keep working on yourself and your practice. After meeting with some photographers from National Geographic I’ve learned the importance of taking inspiration from other people’s work to start developing your own style.” Jan proceeded to illuminate the value of meeting with professionals as an amazing opportunity to absorb aspects of their work you find interesting and use that as inspiration in your own work. “Use what you’ve seen to start creating different angles no one has ever seen before.”

Ever since his interest in photography began, Schmidtchen’s experiences and opportunities have widened alongside his appreciation for Santa Barbara. “Where we live is really amazing. Kind of perfect, actually. I’ve traveled a lot around the world and I’ve seen lots of different areas and still I choose to take the majority of my photos here.” Beginning with wildlife photography, moving into landscapes and cityscapes, and pursuing his current goal of adventure photography, experimentation is all a part of a photographer’s journey to find their style. A photographer’s style can’t be condensed into one concrete description. “Continuously progressing to find what is the most interesting and valuable to you and your taste is the key to becoming successful.” 

Currently, Jan’s pictures are being featured in social media accounts gaining over 30 thousand likes. You can follow Jan on Instagram @jan_birdphotography and @jan_schmidtchen.