At just 19 years-old, Jason Haywood is a tour-de-force with a list of accomplishments under his belt that takes seasoned professionals years to do.
He owns his own business, Jason Haywood Photography, does all the marketing and media for his mom’s business, Bumblebee Consulting, and occasionally teaches aspiring multimedia high school students.
When most kids are concerned about figuring out how to navigate the shaky waters of balancing homework and social life during high school, Haywood was doing that too.
Except unlike most teens, though, he started his own business at 14 years old, before he was old enough to legally drive a car.
Originally from England, Haywood came to live in Fort Erie when his parents, Liz and Andy, decided to move to Canada in 2010.
He got his start in photography when he was just 12 years old. It was Christmas when Haywood unwrapped a small compact camera.
It might sound cliché, but Haywood says he instantly fell in love with photography. There’s a lot that goes into taking a photo, the science behind it, Haywood explains.
“Photography isn’t about just taking what’s there. There’s so much that goes into taking a shot, setting it up. That’s the part I enjoy,” he says.
For the first year, Haywood just pressed the camera’s button and snapped a photo of whatever he could; a chair, a desk, or even himself. He was focused on taking as many photos as he could in an effort to learn as much as he could about the craft.
Many times, his first photos would come out blurry or would show only half of a subject. These earlier shots, Haywood explains, now leaves him scratching his head and wondering what he was thinking when he reflects on them.
“When I first picked up the camera, the shots were as terrible as anyone else’s,” he says.
“I came down here (in my studio) almost all the time and would take photographs of myself. I know how to photograph my face perfectly because I’ve taken thousands of shots,” he says, adding “That’s how you learn. You don’t always have a model to help you.”
His first job was one for the books.
“My first paid job, someone asked me to come to their apartment and chase their cats around to try and get photos because they could never get photos of the cats because they kept moving around everywhere.”
When snapping shots these days, Haywood doesn’t like the “smile and say cheese” approach. For him, it’s all about a candid style, capturing real moments and translating these memories into photos that last a lifetime.
When he first began taking photos, Haywood says he was focused on getting the technique just right. But he’s learned a lot about photography in his young career. Now, Haywood has relaxed a little bit.
“A lot of the great memorable photos aren’t perfect, the famous ones haven’t been perfectly lit, a lot of times they are out of focus, they’ve got a great subject,” he says.
He enjoys snapping a variety of photos, including splash photography and he is well known for his commercial beverage photography.
There’s a lot that goes into preparing for these types of photos, he says.
“Whenever you see a Pepsi can on a side of a vending machine, or any beverage photography, you don’t use real ice. You use acrylic ice because you’ll be working with a beverage for hours in a studio. If you want to get it exactly right, you have to use stuff that will last.”
Haywood was also well-known for taking all the photographs at his former alma mater, Fort Erie Secondary School. His mentors were teachers at the high school, Chuck Stone and Afshin Keyvani. They encouraged Haywood to improve his craft and convinced him to compete in competitions.
“At my first competition in 2015, I placed gold at the District School Board of Niagara Skills Competition and silver at Skills Ontario Competition,” Haywood says, adding, “I am honestly glad I got silver (at the provincial competition).”
Haywood explains that he was still honing his skills and taking the second-place medal pushed him to work harder the following year
“I was finding myself and getting confidence. I went back in 2016 and I got gold all the way.”
Haywood says it was an honour to compete at the Skills Canada competition at the regional, provincial levels and going on to become the Canadian national champion for photography that year. He says it was an amazing experience being able to work alongside some of Canada’s leading student photographers, each highly skilled in the trade.
The key to becoming a better photographer, he says, is to practice. When he manages to find spare time, Haywood usually likes to read photography books or watch YouTube videos about photography techniques.
“The best thing is, if you don’t know something, you can look it up on Google, or YouTube and play around with it,” he says.
These days, the second-year broadcasting student at Niagara College says he continues to balance work, with school and social life. He’s also glad to live in Niagara where there is plenty of opportunities to work and be creative.
“It’s been great in that there’s enough work to keep me busy and I can pick and choose the things I want to do,” he says.
Haywood’s never had a boss, because he’s always worked for himself. While it’s worked for him, the photographer says it hasn’t always been easy.
He’s been burned a few times; sometimes clients don’t show up for a scheduled appointment, or something hasn’t gone the way he would have liked. But, each experience is a learning experience.
“I’ve had a lot of rough jobs, been ripped off beforehand and some people who think they can take advantage because I am young. But, you can’t let that get to you,” he says.
But his family and friends keep him grounded and give advice when needed.
“Whatever lessons you do learn, the next time you’ve got to apply those lessons. Even still now, I am learning those lessons.”
For more information about Haywood’s photography visit https://www.jasonhaywoodphotography.ca.