Picture worth a thousand name drops

Jay Canter


Jay Canter is a Sacramento-based, internationally recognized sports, entertainment and scenic photographer, as well as the author of Tuner Cars Field Guide. The outspoken Canter sat down to chat with me about his career, rap-mogul mingle fests, and even took a moment to properly educate me on the music of Ludacris, prompting a singalong of “Move Bitch.” Check out some of his work at www.jaycanter.com.

Have you photographed any high-profile people?

I’ve worked for a lot of celebrity magazines, most notably Dub mag.

Never heard of it.

It’s one of the biggest entertainment magazines on the planet for celebrities.

Who exactly have you shot?

Tons of music acts, athletes and political figures. I don’t want to sound like some name-dropping asshole.

Unacceptable. Name dropping is mandatory.

I’ve shot Jay-Z, Eminem, Mya and the governor, just to name a few. I’ve done a lot of photography for Universal records. I’ve hung out and shot Ludacris a bunch of times, which usually involves a lot of Atlanta folks and a posse of at least 40 people, and they tend to smoke a lot of stuff. People like Ludacris come up correct.

I bet you see them in a pretty unglamorous light.

It kind of makes me shudder. Some of these people are naturally beautiful, but many others—well, the truth ain’t pretty.

You also shoot bikini models on cars. Do you have a wife or girlfriend?

Nope. My girlfriend of five years and I broke up over my bikini-model gigs. … She just assumed the worst kinds of things.

Tell me about your work displayed in the Mercy San Juan hospital in Carmichael.

They recently opened a new critical-care patient wing and a couple of post-op floors. While building it, they were searching for artwork from local artists for permanent displays, and 30 or so of my pieces were selected. The pieces were bright, happy and vibrant scenery pieces. That is one of my top three accomplishments for my photography. I’m just glad to get local recognition because I’ve never moved to New York or L.A. to further myself; I’ve always stayed here in Sacramento to do what I do, because I love it here.

Your car was recently vandalized?

Right on K and 24th [streets]. I drink a lot of tea, so Hina’s Tea is my favorite place to be. I had parked one car length away from the entrance, and the vandals literally ripped my shit off when I was right there. They ripped the dash out of my car. My alarm was going off, and there were tons of people at the Golden Bear, yet no one saw anything or did anything. The person doing this is a professional!

What would you have done if you caught the thieves in action?

Well, I’ve done martial arts for a really long time. So, what I would’ve done …

Cobra Kai’d the vandal?

I would’ve done way worse than that. I know five different forms of martial arts.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve shot?

Since I do a lot of motor-sports-type stuff, I’ve almost been hit by a speeding car on a racetrack. I would’ve been instantly dead. I often work right by the wall, where you get pretty close to the vehicles.

Ever been hit by debris?

No, because I’m pretty quick.

Oh, that’s right: Because you’re a ninja.

I love shooting people, but right now I’m really into scenery. Some of my scenery stuff has gotten pretty dangerous, because I go out into the wilderness by myself. I slipped on rocks and badly hurt my ankle while I was shooting Horseshoe Bend in Arizona. The terrain is pretty crazy because it is literally a rail-less, sheer-faced cliff. When you look through a camera, your depth perception gets a little distorted.

What did you do, since you were by yourself?

Sat there until I came back to.

I imagine you just sitting on a hill for, like, an hour and crying.

Not an hour, but I won’t admit how long it was.