Kyle Jetter is a student at La Jolla High School, and though he may be young, he has talent beyond his years. The freelance photographer/videographer has already been featured in well-known magazines like Surfing and Stab. He has worked with professional and up-and-coming surfers like Peter King, Derek Dunfee, Jake Halstead, Skip Mccullough, and Jacob Szekely and photographed the likes of Julian Wilson and Gabriel Medina.Yet his photography style is all over the map, and spans more than just surfing and skating, as he is an equally excellent lifestyle photographer. Blenders Eyewear got the opportunity to chat with Jetter to get a better look into what makes this kid tick. Get the inside scoop, and what we can expect from him in 2016, right here:
Tell us something that we wouldn’t know by looking at you.
I spent the first 11 years of my growing up in a small town in North Western New Jersey. My family had 24 goats on our property.
Name the three things that you cannot live without.
Soul/Motown music, Pizza On Pearl, my cameras.
I make a super mean breakfast.
What person would you like to swap lives with for a day?
What is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is the people I surround myself with, as well as all of the legends that lived before me. Everyday my friends will accomplish something amazing that inspires me to push myself further. My friends and family are all very unique and have such varied perspectives on getting the most out of life. When I see them succeeding and enjoying life, it inspires me to do the same.When I find time to relax, I tend to study the accomplishments of many people I idolize: Martin Scorsese, Quentin Terantino, Christopher Nolan, Cory Richards, Aaron Huey, Todd Glaser, Chris Bryan, Chris Ray, Aaron Lieber, Taylor Steele, Ed Templeton, Chris Burkart, and the list goes on and on. The time I spend studying is my favorite part of the day because I have so many ideas to draw from. I find myself constantly inspired by this long list of people. I also try not to get to ahead of myself, I take everything step by step and try to accomplish goals that inspiring local people in my area have done. John Maher, Peter King, Julian Clark, Todd Glaser, Peter Taras; all local legends that inspire me.Music is also a huge inspiration of mine. Everyday I wake up and rock out to songs from artists like Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, CCR, Bob Marley, and much more. Overall, I am inspired by music and everyday visual art.
Favorite breakfast cereal?
Most embarrassing song on your IPod?
I don’t think I have any embarrassing songs; I make sure my music library has the best of everything I like.
Tupac or Biggie?
Biggie, gotta rep that East Coast. His lyrics are insane.
If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
So many idols and legends I would love to meet, but it would come down to Larry David or Quentin Tarantino.
If you could photograph anyone, who would it be?
I don’t remember the exact time that it drew me in; it was more of a gradual interest. Day by day, I got better and I would find myself enjoying it more, especially when others enjoyed my work so much. I would find myself taking photos of skating, surfing, scenery, people, the beach, lifestyles; just about anything that surrounding me in my daily life. After really seeing that the images I created told a story behind all of these good memories, I was hooked. So I became interested after coming to understand how my images could tell a unique story.How would you explain your photography style?
I would say my style would relate with Fine Art Photojournalism, because the revolving concept of my photos deals with showing the daily lives of my friends, the town we live in, and myself. But while I use photojournalism to show these things, I also try to incorporate many photography skills to make the art more fine and appealing.
More often than not, I love to use black and white as my genre. I love black and white because I feel it expresses photographs in a deeper perspective, as you have to focus more on the subject than color.What was the turning point that made you realize that you could do this as a career someday?
I’ll never forget the day I sold my first photo print, or the day when I was first hired to travel and film surfing in South America.
What advice do you have for aspiring photographers looking to make it?
Find an artistic style that makes you happy. Be consistent with this style. Try to create new ideas everyday and also learn along the way. Make sure you network yourself well and work with the right people. Finally, don’t let failure bring you down because failure is what we learn from and improve upon everyday.What do you have planned for 2016?
For 2016 I hope to be enrolled in the USC Cinematic Arts Program (if any Alums out there have a connect, hit me up!). Once I secure an acceptance from USC I’d like to amp up my professional networking over the summer and land some freelance work and apprenticeships that will enhance my skill set. I really want 2016 to be the year that will start take me to the next level in the film or photo industry and start pushing my creative boundaries further.What importance do you place on networking?
Networking is key if you want to be successful. If you know how to network yourself the right way, then you can reach your art out to all the right people. I spend plenty of time thinking of who I want to contact, when I want these contacts, and what is the best way to contact. So if you can network properly, it will not be hard to get your work out there.
How did you get to where you are today?
I would have to thank a number of people that have helped me progress to who I am today. My mom, my dad, my sisters, Jake Halstead, Christian Zvetina, Skip Mccullough, Fano Rakigjija, Jacob Szekely, Collin Duguid, and much more. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without the endless support from my friends and family. Everyone would always be willing to contribute and help me create new ideas that I would then turn into a reality. These ideas more times than not ended up being well liked when published, which brought me to meet more people and be apart of different jobs that have led to where I am today.
What does social media mean to you? How can it/ does it help/ hinder your success?
Social media is everything to me. In today’s world, It is the best and most efficient way to promote anything. Social media is fast, easy, and reliable. Social media has the same idea of networking, if you can do it correctly with the right people, you will do well.
Time management. I try to take as many jobs as I can get, but when it all adds up it is hard to find time for it all. You must do all of the advertising, marketing, editing, selling, creating, and thinking on your own.
Do you think that a college degree is beneficial to the take you to the next level in your career? Or do you think it is more about who you know?
I’m not exactly sure one this one. I think the next level of your career depends a little on both concepts. I certainly think a degree would help you find a job and make you more marketable. At USC, for example, the alumni network is outstanding. For a kid from Jersey, I don’t have as many connections as I’d like to yet in the industry and graduating from USC would help in that regard. I think that in any endeavor you choose, ‘who you know’ is paramount.
What are some daily challenges you face?
Time management and completing projects would definitely have to be a huge daily challenge for me. I have so many projects that I still need to work on, I’m always busy.
Another challenge would be trying to create something new and unique everyday. Making my ideas reality.
Of course I was afraid of the feedback and not succeeding. I would not say that I have completely “succeeded” yet anyway, but I am happy to be where I am today. At first I would always be skeptical on what others would think and how they would react to what I was trying to do. Sometimes I even like the criticism, when it is constructive. I like it because it helps me critique my work and see what areas I need to improve in. Obviously nobody is perfect, so it is nice to hear directly what should be done to improve the project.
How would you summarize your success story?
Moved here from New Jersey and got connected with the right group of friends. Once high school started, photography and filmmaking really caught my interest. I would film skateboarding and finger boarding to fill my time. After doing this for a while, I started to see my creative interests become clearer, so I targeted new things, such as landscape, lifestyle, and surfing.
Landscape motivated my artistic side of things, lifestyle motivated my creative/journalistic side of things; surfing, well it was just fun to travel and share fun memories with close friends.Surfing is what really took me off my feet. I started to do work with companies such as Billabong, Rusty, and Brixton. These companies would promote me to others on social media and so forth.
After being exposed online and locally time and time again, a good amount of people started to recognize my name and share my work to others.
All of this exposure leads me to where I am today. Constantly doing jobs, weather they are simple shoots for friends or commercial videos for big companies, its all-amazing fun.I have a large growing social media following. I have sold plenty of photos and have many more in local shops. I am the editor in chief for our yearbook this year at La Jolla High Sschool and I help out with many other media related projects for the school. Everyday I am contacted to do some type of photography or film project. Now that I somewhat have a name for myself I am always busy with something.
However I would not summarize this as a success story, I am just getting started. It is only the start of something new in my life. I have plenty of goals I still have set for myself and I will continue to push myself everyday.