You may have seen his beautiful photos of Pocono wildlife, landscapes and elements of nature displayed at a local area business or art exhibit, in a community magazine or even in CCEDC's new "Find Your Fun in Carbon County, PA" Tourism Brochure. Or, you may even own one of his prints and have wondered how he can get such perfect, close up shots of magnificent animals in their natural habitats while going about their normal daily routines. Well, wonder no more! Meet Albrightsville resident and Carbon County photographer, John Stoj.
John has graciously permitted the use of his gorgeous nature and Carbon County photos for CCEDC's Tourism Marketing. And, we were lucky enough to recently spend some time with him to discuss his photography career, what inspires him and why he loves Carbon County so much. We are so very excited to share our interview, his talent and imagery with all of you.
Q. John, how long have you been a photographer and how did you get started?
A. I have been taking photographs since the late 1950’s. My interest in photography began when my dad shared his 35 mm camera with me when we vacationed at the mountain river and ski slopes.
Q. Do you do photography full-time or part-time?
A. Currently, I do photography part-time at Pocono Whitewater River Rafters on the Lehigh River. Previously, I served as President-elect of the Carbon County Art Association. On weekends, I work at a local meat and groceries market. More than 30 of my best locally acquired images are on display at Hazle Park Meats & Groceries in Pine Point Plaza, Albrightsville, PA.
Q. Was photography a self-learned hobby or were you professionally trained in the profession?
A. In the early 1960’s, my mother’s retail book stores also sold all monthly and quarterly publications of photography periodicals, along with photography soft cover and hard cover books. I nearly read all of them regularly. During my college years, I was also working with Bausch and Lomb medical microscopes for the USDA in the dairy and livestock areas. High resolution images, absolute detail in focus, definition, including sufficient lighting and contrasts were all at play. I also studied toward being a Superintendent of a National or State Park. My photography/art classes and later work experience included: macro photography of lower plant life, slide show presentations and interpretation. My additional class work was geared toward creating teaching aides for environmental education.
Q. What interests you about photography and being an artist?
A. I enjoy sharing acquired images and interpretation. Also, I believe photography is an invaluable, creative, quality promotional medium.
Q. Why do you choose wildlife and landscapes as the subject of your compositions?
A. I like these subjects because I love the challenge of the difficulty factor of wildlife constantly in motion. While I feel landscapes will mostly always be there, the ambiance changes constantly and timing and good composition is always challenging one’s eye and camera settings.
Q. What intrigues you about wildlife and landscapes?
A. The very elusive, often nocturnal life of various critters in Penn’s Woods makes it a challenge to get a sharp and truly representative image. Often, sightings are a blessing with a lot of luck too. The great tree diversification and variety of lower plant life makes every outdoor venture unique.
Q. Do you like to photograph any other subjects, i.e. people in portraits, events, etc.?
A. Perhaps the most work related to my photography involved resort marketing and promotions. I made promotional displays using photographs to advertise national resort groups at major convention hall tradeshows. Show exhibits included collections of resort related images. My exhibits were presented in several sunbelt states, the Pacific coast, and the northeast.
I photographed many entertainers at local venues here in Carbon County. I have one entire published book cover image of Richard Sturban of the Oak Ridge Boys. This prestigious front page design includes an overlay of Elvis Presley’s image donated by the Elvis Presley Estate.
Also, Martin Guitars chose to use my image from the Mauch Chunk Opera House of their international representative, Craig Thatcher, on an international/national marketing direct mail postcard/poster.
Many national resorts, various artists and venues have used my photos on CD covers, theater posters, billboards, websites, and even as Facebook avatars.
Live music shows are also a challenge to compose good images at.The low light and ever changing stage lighting is always a challenge.
I also photographed several exciting local area charity horse shows, some nearby church weddings, communions and christenings.
During the early years of the Penn/Kidder Library establishment, I photographed events, fundraisers, Christmas and Easter children’s portraits for the new library members. Many of my event photos were published in our local area newspapers and weekly and monthly publications.
Q. What type of equipment do you use? Do you use filters on any of your images?
A. I use DSLR’s (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera with gyroscope stabilized lenses, External Flash, and Macro Ring Flash as needed. Sometimes, I use a Tri-pod and a radio controlled shutter release. I do not use filters.
Q. How long have you lived in Albrightsville or Carbon County?
A. I relocated to Albrightsville from Henryville in February, 2002. I first lived in Lake Harmony, Carbon County, in 1971. For 20+ years, I traveled nationally on resort marketing and promotional campaigns.
Q. What do you love about Carbon County?
A. I love that we have great local people, wonderful history, an exciting and vast variety of water and winter leisure activities as well as diversified forests, lakes and rivers.
Q. What other subjects would you like to photograph in the future?
A. Someday time permitting, I would like to photograph local scholastic sports events, like track and field, and soccer. I have plenty of quality experience in both areas. I was coached extensively for several years by our U.S. 1984 Olympic Head Coach and World Champion U.S. Track Team Coach, Mr. Larry Ellis. My specialty events were the low and intermediate hurdles, sprints and long jump. In high school, East Coast and regional meets, I won a few gold, silver and bronze medals in the hurdles and sprint relays. In college, I was the captain of the track team and established a few school records too. In soccer, I co-captained a #2 nationally ranked team as a half back, scored goals in several PA state championship, NCAA regional, and conference championship games.
Q. If someone wanted to purchase your prints, where would they go? How could they contact you?
A. Choose images from www.PoconoPhotos.com and then e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at: 570-722- 1085.
Thank you so much, John, for sharing your talent and beautiful images with us. We encourage our readers to check out your website at www.PoconoPhotos.com and enjoy all of your captivating images.
A Little About the Photos Featured Above...
First Photo: Tree Swallows feeding in Flight above local pond waters.
Photo won one of “12 Best of 2012”, in a national/international photo contest. Selected by 4 different panels of judges…
Second Photo: A very large Black Bear shakes water off after a long swim across a large local pond. I had to run along the shore line and try to get side by side or ahead for a profile or head shot… See more on my web site. www.PoconoPhotos.com