When Jay Goodrich looks around his new home in Jackson, Wyoming — the place he and his wife both dreamed about for close to 30 years — he knows he’s arrived at a high point in his career and his life.
“I think to fully explain how I arrived here, I am going to have to take you back to where it all began. I grew up in the proverbial ‘center of the universe.’ Exactly 30 miles from the GWB (George Washington Bridge linking New York and New Jersey for you non-east coasters) Exit 52 off of Interstate 80. Nature existed there, but has greatly succumbed to development since those halcyon days of my youth. Yes, I did build trails in the woods behind my parents house. Yes, I shot BB guns back there, too. I rode dirt bikes as well. And pedal bikes, too. I built things like go carts, forts, and bottle rocket launchers. Even made a stop motion film or two. But as I grew older, started driving my first car, I became more and more jaded. I began to realize that I truly didn’t belong. I went to college in Rhode Island.
“And that is where this story takes root. It was the winter break for my freshmen year in college, the first winter break of many. Six weeks of freedom. Short enough that work wasn’t really an option. Long enough that my parents got their fill of seeing me. What was about to commence was the start of a mission that was going to take a very long time to complete. I traveled to Jackson, Wyoming, for my first trip to the west. It was a ski trip. It was the first of what was going to become a life pursuit. It was the first chance I was going to get to ski on real snow. By ‘real,’ I mean powder. Soft, luscious powder to the tune of 16 inches a day for seven days straight. I never did see that peak they refer to as the ‘Grand.’
“As I completed my college career and was awarded a Bachelor of Architecture degree, I fully understood my mission in life was to vacate the city and head west to explore a different side of life. I moved to Colorado where I knew some people and began a career in my trained profession. This new land sparked my learned creative vision from college and pushed me to explore new avenues of communication. I proceeded to purchase my first camera. This led to an infection and obsession of sorts. I needed to render the places I was visiting for those city folk back home. Then a girl friend at the time gave a me Art Wolfe’s book, Light on the Land, and the rest became history. I wanted to create images like the ones illustrated in his book. Enter a 20-year career in chasing light. A business that grew along side of my architecture career.
“While living most of my adult life in Colorado, I had the ability to travel to the greater Yellowstone eco-system fifty times in twenty years. Many ask how I kept track? It was pretty simple. The first dozen or so trips were just common knowledge, then I became a pilot and I logged every flight — many of which went to Jackson, Wyoming. Enter more obsession. And then I just added the additional travels to those log book entries. The whole time I created photos, learned from my mistakes, and got better and better at homing in on what I wanted from this world. It began with film cameras and accessories like the Galen Rowell Graduated Neutral Density Filters. As I grew into more of a professional, I realized that an LB Warming Polarizer gave me a contrast that I hadn’t seen before in my work. And finally, all of this migrated towards digital, where I dropped it all for a brief stint with exposure blending and HDR, but I quickly returned to the ease of using filters on camera, in the field, as both of my professional careers became increasingly more intense.
“I won’t bore you with the specific details that transitioned me into a full-time adventure photojournalist, but know that it was always a dream. A downturned economy, a lay off, and then an obsessive/compulsive, ‘type a’ personality took over creating a machine of photography and writing sorts. Now close to approaching a decade of full-time shooting, writing, and traveling, my wife received a random phone call. A call to the majors. ‘Would you like to come work with us in Jackson, Wyoming?’ Ummmm…the boxes were already purchased and being filled with the random items we collected over the years before she even hung up the phone. We were heading home. Home to wilderness. Home to adventure. Home to a place we both dreamed about for close to 30 years. Jackson, Wyoming 83001. Home of the Tetons. And home of my soul.”