If you are active on the Hudson Valley facebook and twitter pages, you have probably seen some amazing photos, especially of nature and wildlife, by Jess Deitz. Not only is she a professional photographer, she is also the owner of a landscaping company. It was a privilege to get to interview her and get to know more about her work.
So Jess, where are you from?
Although I've traveled all over North America, I've lived in the Hudson Valley for most of my life. Orange and Ulster is where I reside for the most part, but a lot of my family history is further North in Greene County of the Catskill region. Much of my time is spent there so it's difficult for me to name one County/Town as my home.
My college years were spent in Arizona where I studied Music Business, Sound Engineering, Computer Animation and Graphic Design. All of my skills in Photography/ Videography and Horticulture are self taught.
Tell us a little about your businesses
I've owned Personal Gardens Landscape and Design, with my Wife Meghan for over 10 years now. Parallel to that, I'm a Wildlife and Nature Conservation Photographer. Adventures in UAV Aerial Photography for Tourism and Conservation is in my near future.
I find that both Photography and Landscaping compliment each other well. They require being outdoors and involve discovering, educating and replenishing of nature.
If we had a slogan for Personal Gardens, I guess it would be "We are just different." Meghan and I spend extra care and time with our customers and their Gardens. It's important to us that whatever we plant, it survives and flourishes. We want to put nature back into the Earth because so much of it is used up and disappearing.
Although we have had plenty of experience in building patios and walkways, we are now focusing our time on Perennial, Seasonal Container, Herb, Tree and Shrub Gardens. Our goal is to make each one unique to the individual customer and for it to be affordable.
Today, people are becoming more stressed and pressed for time. It's so important that they have an environment they love to come home to and can afford. Everybody deserves that, no matter your income.
We offer a maintenance schedule as well to keep the Garden healthy and productive from March to November. Meghan and I understand that to most of you, your garden is loved like your Family. We take the time and care to nourish them.
We extend our services through the Fall decorating the outdoors with Mums and Cornstalks, into the Holiday Season with lighting displays and custom wreaths. We have done work from as far south as Westchester up to Kingston on both sides of the river. We will venture further depending on the job. So anyone located in the Hudson Valley, don't hesitate to call us at 845-416-1759
Where is your favorite place to photograph? And what are your favorite subjects?
I love to visit all of New York's Counties, Parks and Preserves, they continue to be an inspiration for both of my careers.
I care about the Wildlife of the Hudson Valley as much as the land. I'm always trying to find ways of educating people of the wild things that inhabit this area and beyond. I'm constantly telling people to look up or turn off the T.V. and get in the woods!
I particularly love to photograph birds. I saw my first Great Blue Heron when I was 13 years old and was in awe of such a prehistoric creature existing right in my backyard! It wasn't until I was in my 30's that I photographed my first Owl and never put the camera down since.
I don't think everyone realizes the variety of birds that exist so close to home. On Facebook, I often receive comments about people not knowing a particular bird could even be seen here. That's what makes it so fun, kind of like a big nature treasure hunt.
The Hudson Valley offers so many Wildlife Preserves to explore. The Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, Wallkill River NWR, Basha Kill Area Association to name a few. I'm still discovering new wetlands and preserves in Sullivan, Ulster, Dutchess and Orange County to this day!
I think if more people spent time outdoors they would remember who they really are more often. When you look at my photographs of birds/wildlife, you see they have a personality and a soul just like us. They are mirroring what's inside us, what we are made of. We are connected to ourselves through them and Nature. It helps to realize the importance of their existence in order for the this planet to remain in balance, meaning our own survival as the Human Race.
I educate about the behaviors of wildlife to try and lessen this huge fear and hatred around wildlife such as Coyotes, Foxes, Raptors etc. It's all a matter of perspective when it comes to a belief. If hatred is involved, then fear, ego and lack of understanding is the culprit. We then create irrational behaviors and decisions based on emotions. Most of the concerns are that these animals will take something we own or love away from us. This has been an ongoing fear of the Human Race for centuries with not just animals but different cultures, lifestyles etc.. the list goes on and on. Fear is the only real enemy. Education is the solution.
From the animals perspective, their land to roam is getting smaller by the second. When they encroach our property, it's not personal. They're searching for food that is scarce, so they look in our garbages and crops trying to adapt to what we built in place of their woods. Maybe it was an old path they have traveled for years long before you put your house in the middle of it.
We could practice much more responsibility and care when it comes to clearing trees for another shopping mall that we don't need. I agree, it requires more work to make sure our children and pets are secure in our yards. I'm also very sympathetic to those of you that have lost loved ones to wild animals. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I have fears myself about my own pets.. But that's what it takes to share a Planet and that's the consequence of taking up so much space for Human comforts. We are in fact just as diseased and over populated as any Deer. We don't own this place.. we are borrowing it.
That's my purpose with my work. I want to spread more understanding and acceptance for a species that doesn't have a voice. I would want the same done for me. Land and its wild has been sacrificed for our survival since the beginning of time. We owe our compassion and respect to such privileges.
Who knows what's out there to discover? Hudson Valley, remember, whatever you find is a part of you! Thank You.
Connect with Jess Deitz of Personal Gardens Landscape and Design and J.L. Deitz Photography here:
"I See You"