Jay Fleming’s macro photography of fish skin, scales, eyes and fins opens up a magical world of beauty, richness and diversity that many of us routinely overlook.
Homing in on the black-and-white banding of a sheepshead or the translucent pectoral fin of a snook with his macro lens, Fleming captures distinctive patterns and colors suggestive of the unique geometry of a snow crystal. These narrowly circumscribed portraits remind Fleming that, in its underlying beauty, a celebrity gamefish doesn’t have anything over what one might refer to as a “trash” fish.
Fleming’s exploration of the exterior anatomy of fish is an extension of his work as a photographer specializing in the marine life of Chesapeake Bay, as well as documenting the lives of the men and women who make their living fishing, crabbing and oystering on the Bay.
Fleming, who is 29, grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, and the Delmarva Peninsula, where he learned to fish and to shoot with a camera. His father, National Geographic photographer Kevin Fleming, gave him a Nikon N90S film camera when he was 14 years old. A quick study, the prodigy won the grand prize in the EPA Wildlife and Wetlands photography contest that year with an image of a great egret he shot on Delaware’s Indian River Bay. That early success kindled his passion for wildlife photography.
Broadening his focus, Fleming has undertaken a photographic narrative of men and women who depend on the Chesapeake for their livelihood. It’s featured in his first book, Working the Water, scheduled for release in October 2016 (jayflemingphotography.com).