How does a self-taught photographer go from having a passing interest in photography to contributing to the Discovery Channel social media pages within the span of four years? For Jake Rosmarin (18C), the key factors were a newfound passion for photography and, perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of hard work.
Since September 2018, Rosmarin has been a photo contributor on all Discovery Channel social media websites, where he posts wildlife and nature photographs. Rosmarin has contributed photos of subjects ranging from a full moon to the mandarin duck. But photography wasn’t always his plan.
Though Rosmarin began taking photos with his first camera at age 13, he didn’t take photography seriously as an art form until his first year at Emory. His initial plan at Emory was to attend the business school, but instead graduated with a major in International Studies.
“[Right now], everyone thinks they’re a photographer, and I think that’s the way I started out,” Rosmarin said. “It was more photographing to document rather than photographing to make art with. If I went on a trip somewhere, I was taking pictures of the sign [just] to remember.”
Rosmarin credited “Emory In Bloom,” a 2015 Emory undergraduate photography contest, as the event that triggered his deeper interest in photography. Competitors photographed springtime on campus and posted pictures on Instagram.
After he won that competition, the University asked Rosmarin to regularly contribute to its social media pages. After gaining experience photographing Student Programming Council and Greek life events, Rosmarin was hired as the first official campus student photographer. His subjects on campus ranged from typical scenes like students studying during finals, to more high-profile events like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s 2018 visit to the Emory Law School. Some weeks, Rosmarin could be seen photographing for Emory everyday.
“[Emory In Bloom] ignited [my interest],” Rosmarin said. “It definitely helped me want to [pursue photography] professionally. It also got me so much more involved on campus.”
Megan McRainey, associate director of media relations in the Emory office of communications and public affairs, attested to Rosmarin’s capability as a student photographer.
“His photography was, I would say, instrumental in building up … the [Emory University] Instagram account, because previously we had not had the influx of quality photography that he was sending,” McRainey said. “It is of huge value to have someone who always has an eye out for something beautiful or interesting.”
McRainey would often ask Rosmarin to photograph a wide range of subjects across campus.
“[Rosmarin] is really great with capturing moments — great student moments, their faces and smiles,” McRainey explained. “[And] he’s amazing with animals. … It’s not as easy as it sounds to go get a photo of a squirrel.”
McRainey picked up on Rosmarin’s penchant for wildlife photography, which Rosmarin describes as his favorite genre. Rosmarin said his inclination toward wildlife photography flows from his lifelong love for animals, instilled in him by his father. He claimed that his goal is to capture animals’ inner lives.
“Trying to understand … [and] to capture what that animal is thinking or feeling — it’s just a really interesting thing to think about,” Rosmarin said. “I want my photo to have a story … instead of it just being a picture of an animal standing there.”
He said one of the key virtues in capturing a photograph’s narrative is patience. After his junior year, Rosmarin spent five weeks on a summer volunteer trip to Zimbabwe with African Impact’s wildlife photography program. Rosmarin recalled waiting for what felt like hours to catch a glimpse of hyenas emerging from their den, and he emphasized the unpredictability of animals as one of the core challenges of wildlife photography.
Closer to home in New York, Rosmarin spent weeks waiting to photograph a baby fox, until he was finally able to snap it in front of its mother.
“Patience is a really, really important part of wildlife photography,” Rosmarin said about photographing the baby fox. “[The waiting is] always, always worth it.”
Rosmarin’s patience recently paid off in a rather international way. After graduating from Emory in Spring 2018, he set up social media pages for his photography, using photos he had accumulated in his portfolio over the years. One of these photos, a picture of the southern ground hornbill at the Atlanta Zoo, taken during his freshman year, caught the attention of the Discovery Channel social media team.
“I must’ve used the right hashtag,” Rosmarin said. “[Discovery Channel] found it, and they messaged me. It’s a pretty exciting thing to wake up to a message from the Discovery Channel.”
Since posting the photo, he has become a contributing photographer for Discovery’s social media accounts, whereby they use his photos from his portfolio or request specific shots.
McRainey felt that Rosmarin’s entry into wildlife photography was already in the cards when he was photographing for Emory.
“I noticed [his aptitude] immediately, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s been doing wildlife photography,” McRainey said. “Even around campus, he was capturing moments with animals in a way that I feel is really skillful.”
Tara McCurley, assistant director of Academic Technology Services, noticed Rosmarin’s photography repeatedly featured in the Cox Computing Center, where she had previously worked. About once a month, the Emory Photography Club installed a photo exhibit featuring the winners of their monthly photography contest, where McCurley often saw Rosmarin’s photos.
“There was always some feeling behind [his wildlife photos] … even if it was just a monkey with its mom,” McCurley said. “He captured [moments] that felt very intimate … It felt like he was zoomed in on this very specific moment in time.”
In Spring 2018, McCurley asked Rosmarin if he was interested in creating an entire exhibit in Cox dedicated to his photography, to which he agreed. An entire wall in the Cox Computing Center was sectioned off for Rosmarin’s work, and Rosmarin selected a range of his travel photos for display.
“I felt like it was a great opportunity to put my work out on display,” Rosmarin said. “After four years at Emory, I was honored to be able to do that.”
Rosmarin next hopes to find a full-time photography position. Currently, Rosmarin works in Manhattan as an assistant negotiator for Nissan’s video investment team. In the meantime, he plans to continue building his portfolio while traveling. Rosmarin’s most recent trip was to Rio de Janeiro to see the Christ the Redeemer statue, and he says one of his dream locations would be somewhere he could photograph glaciers and tundra wildlife. His ultimate goal is to become a National Geographic photographer.
To those who may be interested in photography, Rosmarin recommended diving in headfirst.
“Take every opportunity you can to go out and shoot whatever it may be, even if it’s something you’re not interested in doing,” Rosmarin said. “You should really try all different forms, all different styles … It’s really important for the learning process.”