We had the good fortune of connecting with Jacob Graham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jacob, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I feel that I have always been drawn toward risk-taking, even from a young age. The sports I was drawn to and the career paths I have followed throughout my life have always leaned toward things that were higher in risk. I was a Volunteer Firefighter and an EMT on a 911 Ambulance from age 18 to 24. From there, I went on to become a Deputy Sheriff until I was 32. I was drawn to the risk and the service to others in all of these careers.
At 32, my wife and I found out we were going to be having twin boys. At this point, I took the biggest risk of my entire life. I left a secure career with steady pay and retirement to be a full-time dad to our boys. This step allowed me to be home each day and not miss out on any of the life events for the boys. It allowed our family to have a more flexible schedule and my wife to pursue her dream of being a school administrator.
While being home with the boys, I was able to take a long hard look inside and begin the process of finding myself outside of a uniform and title. Through this process I found my love for photography. I have grown up around photography with my mom being into photography and teaching me little things throughout my life about taking photos and hearing stories about having a blackroom and developing her own photos when she was young. My older brother also does off-road action photography and I learned a lot about getting those quick action shots from him.
I always considered photography to be my mom and brother’s “thing”, though I began getting drawn to it when my wife and I started traveling to Europe most summers. While traveling, I began wanting to capture these memories that would last us a lifetime but, I never considered investing into the equipment or learning the process to become a “photographer”.
I thought that I would never be good enough to ever make it worth the risk of the initial investment in the gear and equipment. I finally decided this investment was worth the financial risk to pursue my dream. So far it has been an amazing return on a mental and emotional level. Photography has helped me to find the person outside of his titles and uniforms, it has helped me to find the most valuable titles I have ever earned, which is being a dad and a husband who is genuinely happy and able to help others capture their special moments in photographs.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I would say I got to where I am today through lots of trial and error. I have tried and done more things than most people even attempt; I think. I used to get so down on myself for all of these career changes and attempts until I started to look at it in a different light. I figured out that through all of these endeavors I have grown as a person, learned new skills, and made connections with people that will last me a lifetime. The work I’m most proud and excited about is the photography I’m starting to do with first responders. I feel that having been in those professions I’m able to make a connection between them, the photographs, and the viewer to put a human element and face to these professions.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well living in the high desert of California there’s not much in the form of attractions or touristy locations. But what I love about the area is all the open spaces and nature. There’s plenty of great places to go hike or offroad, lots of little family owned restaurants hidden throughout the area that I would have to show them. The biggest perk to living here is you can be to almost every key spot in California in two hours or less. I would have to take them to a few of the San Diego beaches and check out the gas lamp district at night. Stay a day in Orange county to see Huntington and Newport. From there continue up the coast towards LA and have lunch at Philippe’s for a french dip and blueberry pie. After lunch it would be time to shoot up the coast to where my wife and I got married on the beach in Carpentaria. Spend the next day in Santa Barbara then head home for a day up in Big Bear and a drive through the mountains.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would have to say I would want to dedicate my shoutout to my wife Amanda and our boys Houston and Wyatt. They are the reason I get up each morning and my motivation to be my very best. Amanda has been with me through thick and thin. She has been my biggest cheerleader and source of motivation over the last 16 years. She has always been what I can only describe as a calm harbor in the storms of life. Our two boys are the light of my life and my drive to be a better father each day.