Capturing Meaning with Jordan McCall
Hunting, Processing, and Capturing It All with One Lens.
Sifting through the channels on the Outdoor TV Network, Jordan McCall turned on his favorite show: Heartland Bowhunter. What he was inspired by is not what you'd think. It wasn't the cool hosts, or even the biggest kills caught on camera. McCall was captivated by the footage itself, the effects used in the video making. He'd spend hours at times, analyzing the producers editing choices. When viewing on a sunken couch became no longer enough, he turned off the TV, put down the remote, and asked his friend a big question. "You know what? Why don't we start taking cameras to the woods and capture what we see?"
He didn't have a plan or formal training because it wasn't needed. "I'd have a picture in my head, then want to go out and create it." McCall uses his photography to communicate his thoughts, feelings, and greatest passions. "I am able to portray what point I want to get across with an image."
McCall decided to focus his photography skills on two important subjects in his life: hunting and processing. "Being able to capture a moment that has value and meaning to me and my followers is the biggest reason I love photography." McCall's goal wasn't just to take the best photo he could, his goal was to capture meaning.
Although it's in his blood, he didn't grow up hunting with his mother or father. "My grandpa taught me everything I know." Reminiscing, he spoke of fond memories: sitting on the front porch, the smell of fresh coffee filling the air, and the irreplaceable 'hunting talks.' "My pap was the guy I went out with when I was real young, and from there, it transpired into an obsession and passion for myself."
At a young age, McCall yearned to learn new things. He always took opportunities by the horns, well in his case... antlers. "He would let me borrow his grinder for a week after all the killing was done, and I would go at it. I was thirteen or fourteen when I started processing my own game, two years later I started purchasing all my own equipment."
Processing his kill allowed him to feel a deeper connection with not only hunting, but with the food itself. "Regardless of what animal you took its life, you get this feeling of, 'I'm finishing the entire harvest now, I'm doing it all myself, I know what's going into it, and I know what's coming out of it.'" Whether clicking the camera or making venison summer sausage, he says hunting and processing taught him a more significant lesson, "processing taught me to take pride in all my work."
There's no shortage of work for McCall. He picked up the camera at seventeen, and four years later he hasn't put it down. Many who know him can say he is someone who never seems to stop working, nor would want to stop. Currently, McCall is focused on building his photography empire, managing social media for an outdoor retailer, and completing his bachelor's degree in Marketing at Penn State. Social media is a tool McCall knows all too well. On his Instagram, @jordanmccall_outdoors, he promotes his photography to his eleven thousand followers, inspiring others that didn't have someone to teach them to hunt or process game. "A lot of the time, people just take their game to a butcher and just get it back, and then they eat it. That's it. But, if I could relay a message with a picture, I could help someone do it themselves."
With the right tools, anything is possible. "I discovered LEM about two years ago on the farm I used to hunt, the guy we processed our game with only used LEM. I had used other brands way before I started seriously processing and they don't perform like LEM does." For McCall, the experience of buying the brand is more than a purchase, it's a boost in confidence. "When you're in the processing isle, you're going to see more than just the brand, you're going to see every single thing that LEM offers and everything you need to process your meat or food in general."
The expectation that McCall will photograph anything he loves is a valid one. With LEM Products being one of the subjects of his art, it was all too gratifying.
McCall says he won't ever quit taking photos of the process or supplying positive encouragement to those who haven't tried it yet. "Go for it, at first you're going to be confused. You might fail the first few times, you might not know what's going on, but at the end of the day when you finally taste that flavor, or you cook it perfectly, or you get some buddies together for a butchering day, it's all worth it. Every year I meet up with a group I'm a part of called The Journey Outdoors. We process hundreds of pounds of game together and fill our up our freezers." With such fulfilling experiences to look forward too, when he says it's all worth it, we'd take his word for it.
Every shot through McCall's camera is more than a photo, it's a part of him; a compilation of memories, experiences, and abilities he's proud of. He hopes every photo he shares pushes others to hunt and process their game, or as he calls it, "making that final step." With the will to learn, McCall says anything is possible. For him, it was perfecting the art of photography, a craft he had no prior knowledge of. For you, it could be processing your own game.
He says, "it comes down to: how bad do you want it?"
Jordan would like to share a special thanks to those who have supported him in his life's greatest joys: his grandfather, Robert McCall for teaching him a sport he grew to love, his business professor and mentor, Cynthia Wood who always has a listening ear, and his intern Chase Clouser, for doing behind the scenes work and finances.