Photography by: Julie SaariJon H.
Back Alley – Downtown Bemidji
Always looking for an adventure Jon Heller can be found on his bike or on the road exploring and photographing his experiences. Jon takes as many photos for friends as he does for assignments. A style unique to Bemidji Jon Heller has a flair for photography not usually seen in a town our size. One of the first people to contact me after I started This is my town: Bemidji, Jon and I have become friends and he has helped me on numerous occasions get a shot I can’t, or to loan me equipment I could only dream of using much less have. You have seen some of Jon’s work on the Facebook page in the Where the Heck? pics as well as the profile photos as well.
Some of you know him, but for the rest let me introduce you to Jon Heller:
A big part of my story is pretty much the same as everyone else that grew up in Bemidji. Born and raised in the Bemidji area but with the desire to travel away from here. I would read stacks of “outside” magazines dreaming about all the places I wanted to visit without knowing how I could make it happen.
Then in 1993 on a family vacation to Glacier National Park everything changed when my Dad showed me how to use his old Nikon FE camera. Once those first rolls of Kodachrome came back I was hooked, finally an art form that let me record what I saw in the world the way that I saw it. On top of it all it was easy or at least I thought so after seeing those first slides. From that point on I devoured every magazine, book and behind the scenes video I could get my hands on which is when I started to realize how much more there was to getting successful images. It doesn’t even matter what kind of photos I’m shooting, a lot of photographers only shoot one thing but I don’t really care what I point my camera at as long as it inspires or moves me in some way. I have lived in Montana, Wyoming, Florida and California and traveled to all the places in between but I keep ending up in Bemidji.
Hours after graduating from high school I was on the road back to Montana to attend photography school for the summer. By this point my main direction was in photographing people, still loving it all I just shot what ever I could. On top of that I was on my own, exploring the mountains around Missoula. However, by the time the program was done I was ready to come back to Bemidji. I spent the next few years working odd jobs while trying to build a portfolio as good as the images I saw in magazines with little success, the ideas were there but I was still missing something. Then. I got hired to assist a new commercial photographer in Bemidji who showed me how much work and gear went into getting those shots I was trying to emulate. He had all the gear and would let me borrow it for my own shoots. That’s when my images started to improve by leaps and bounds.
I’m at a place right now where my photos are getting published on a fairly regular basis and it still doesn’t get old seeing my images on the cover of magazines. I still haven’t picked just one direction to go in, one day I might be shooting a orchestra conductor the next I might be dangling from a rope shooting a rock climber, all things I have actually shot in Bemidji.
Photos by Julie Saari