When Jake Rajs published his 2003 book, These United States, with an introduction by Walter Cronkite, Reader’s Digest voted him the best observer of America and wrote: “Not since Ansel Adams turned his lens on the Snake River has a photographer so glorified the American landscape.” Well- deserved kudos indeed.
“When I photograph a landscape,” he says. “I try to capture the miracle
that there is nothing more beautiful and perfect than what is created
Known for his architectural and landscape imagery in which he aims to “capture the spirit of a place,” the award-winning photographer’s works have been featured in countless magazines including, Time, Life, Newsweek, National Geographicand Readers Digest (in which he was voted Best American Photographer). His fine art prints are in numerous museums and private collections worldwide.
The prolific shutterbug, who lives in Westhampton Beach, has published 18 books thus far including three on the East End of Long Island. NY. He was lured originally to the North Fork by Monacelli Press, a publishing house that wanted him for a book on that area. Once he “fell in love with the light of the East End and its farming and rural quality,” he moved there to Orient, then Southold. The resulting tome was Between Sea and Sky: Landscapes of Long Island’s North Fork.
His book on the South Fork, Beyond the Dunes: A Portrait of the Hamptons, boasts an introduction by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Paul Goldberger.
His third book on the East End is a combination of the two earlier ones: Portrait of Long Island: The North Fork and the Hamptons.
In his 40-year career, Rajs has compiled an archive of more than half a million images. When focusing his camera – he switched to a digital Nikon in 2006 – he looks for several factors: first the “quality of the light,” he says. “Light talks to you; it has a consciousness. It almost sings, if it’s right it’s a symphony.”
He also looks for form, a sense of “balance and harmony in the space.” And of course, he looks for color. As a former painter, he can gauge the emotional impact of various hues. Putting all the elements together he hopes to create a “piece of art that moves the spirit.”
Besides his fine art photography, which he sells, he does commercial work for clients like Sotheby's, Christie's, Zillow, Bayard Advertising, Rode Advertising, architects, designers, Real estate Developers in New York City and the rest of the country.
On the East End he has made a name for himself shooting houses for landscape architects and top real estate brokers including Tim Davis, Beata Moore, and Ed Petrie. He has shot the homes of Christie Brinkely, Matt Lauer, Richard Gere and Vincent Camuto’s Villa Maria. He admits to “love” shooting important estates, which feature “beautiful artwork and landscapes.
His current book, published by Rizzoli in October, 2017-- Coastal California: The Pacific Coast Highway and Beyond -- boasts a foreword by Governor Jerry Brown.
“Sometimes a book takes 30 years to accomplish,” he says. He starts with a narrative in his head, and as the concept develops collects images he “may need to tell the story.”
Of all his images, does he have one that stands out? “My favorite,” he says, “is the next one I’m going to take.”