Jack McDermott checked his bank account: He’d finally saved up enough money to buy his first camera. His family was going on a trip to Belize, and he wanted to make sure he had the means to capture his time there.
At first, he focused on wildlife. He took photos of birds, squirrels, or any other small animal that wandered into his backyard. Jack was inspired by his stepfather, who had shown him film photos from a trip to Africa.
After high school, he started college at the University of Washington and chose to major in Marine Sciences. But after two quarters, at 18 years old, Jack left school to pursue his photography career.
He’d seen a lot of the world already on family trips and vacations. But he felt a need to leave home, to get out of Seattle and see something new. He wanted to travel without plans.
So, Jack bought a one-way ticket to Bali, Indonesia.
He knew a few people who lived there or were traveling there, but that was it. He didn’t even know where he was going to stay on the night he arrived.
Traveling to Bali was a challenge of sorts — to show that the most incredible experiences can come from the least amount of planning.
On his first day in Bali, for 650,000 rupiah (roughly $50) Jack rented a motorbike. He immediately took off on a three-hour drive across the island en route to East Java, a nearby island.
He passed rice fields, breathed in burning palm wood, and had a few close encounters with speeding trucks. The roads were hectic, but he learned how to navigate in between traffic. Since that first day, he’s explored Canggu, Denpasar, Ubud, and Uluwatu, slowly getting to know the island in between photography gigs.
He loves the island and how diverse it is. It’s become a second home to him.
After a day on the beach, Jack and a few of his friends watched the sunset and found a cheap meal for dinner. It was beautiful in its normalcy, and Jack loved that, for the time being at least, this was his daily life.