Photographers call it the “golden hour,” a short window of opportunity to capture the perfect sunrise or sunset. For local photographer Jay Blanton, it represents two of his favorite times of the day.
Using an application on his phone, Jay said he can determine the best time and location in South Georgia to photograph a sunrise or sunset.
“It might be Valdosta or Waycross; it changes every day,” Jay said. “Once I know where, then I get in my car and go.”
From photographing the Milky Way to the sun setting over downtown streets, Jay uses the landscape of South Georgia as his artistic inspiration.
“I started producing videos in high school and did some wedding business,” Jay said. “A few years ago I got a camera and started going out after work and on weekends taking pictures.”
Jay and his wife, Erin, now spend their free time exploring South Georgia and North Florida looking for the next photographic creation.
“Sometimes we drive and see where we end up,” said Jay, “but I prefer to plan out the trips. I use Google Maps to check street views to find the best locations.”
With interest in history, Jay first began taking photos of older buildings. “I have always been interested in architecture and the history of the building,” said Jay, who works for the Valdosta Boys & Girls Club. “I love the history of Valdosta and surrounding communities. You pass by these places every day and never think about how they started or what took place in these buildings years ago.”
It started as a hobby but has evolved into a business venture. Last year, the Blantons officially established The Georgia Photography Fanatic, a photography business focused on landscape, architecture, and agriculture. Each photo creates an awareness of South Georgia’s uniqueness and natural beauty and serves an avenue to promote growth in the region.
“Our main focus is to be a tool to promote tourism, agritourism, etc.,” Erin said. “Our customers are large landowners, including farms and plantations, tourism authorities and councils, municipalities, and chambers of commerce in South Georgia and North Florida.”
The Sky’s the Limit
The Georgia Photography Fanatic client base has expanded through the addition of drone photography. Last year, Jay was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA Part 107) to operate a drone for commercial use.
“The use of drones is highly regulated and we hold ourselves to the highest standards to maintain compliance,” Jay said. “As a new industry, we feel drones will become more regulated especially at the local and state levels. I think through that, drone photography will become more specialized.”
Erin said the drone photos are extremely popular on The Georgia Photography Fanatic Facebook page.
“Since August of 2016, we have grown the Facebook page to nearly 6,300 likes and followers,” Erin said. “Many of these have turned into customers.”
With the use of drones, the photography and video opportunities are endless.
“Our passion is strong,” said Jay, “and we feel we can create images and videos to promote our surrounding area.”