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World traveler uses photojournalism to inspire dreams

May 3, 2018 Leave a comment

Dean Jacobs, world traveler, photojournalist, contributing columnist for Fremont Tribune (Photo courtesy of Dean Jacobs)

By Meg Rice
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Many children dream of traveling the world and exploring exciting places. For Dean Jacobs, this dream became a reality.

Since 2001, Jacobs has traveled to 58 countries. He documents and brings his experiences to life through his photography and writings. 

“My mission is to find amazing images, both in photography form and written form,” Jacobs said. “I want to bring them back and transform them into teachable moments for others.”

In 2010, Jacobs created Travel 4 Life, a nonprofit organization that uses photojournalism and stories to remind others of the beauty of the world that he said many people often forget. He travels the U.S., giving presentations to teach others, especially kids, about the world and to inspire them to dream.

“I want to remind people of their dreams and challenge them to be the best version of themselves,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs is not only a world-traveling photojournalist, but he writes a column for the Fremont Tribune and has written two books.

Jacobs teaches writing skills in his educational workshops. As a photographer, he uses his photos to help others connect with the life around them and to appreciate the beauty of the world.

Coming from a smaller town in Nebraska, Jacobs said he learned to enjoy the simplicity of life at a young age. But he also understands the challenges of achieving big dreams.

“My dream as a child was to travel around the world,” Jacobs said. “I wish someone would’ve told me when I was four years old that it was realistic, I could’ve gotten here sooner.”

Jacobs was born in Wahoo, Nebraska, where he lived on a farm for five years before his family moved to Fremont, Nebraska.

He graduated from Wayne State College with a bachelor’s degree in biology and minors in earth science and art. His only experience with journalism was two classes he had taken in college.

“Journalism was something I did for fun,” Jacobs said. “But it was also political because I was student council president in college and I wanted to have the paper on my side.”

It wasn’t until after college and he was working at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in sales and marketing that he began to dabble in journalism. He started to shoot photos as a hobby.

“Photography is a set of skills that I had to learn over time,” Jacobs said. “My work in the beginning was very average. Eventually, I could see my work getting better.”

Jacobs began as a working as a photographer for the Fremont Tribune in 2004. He said he had to learn how to think in the photojournalistic style.

“You need to edit and craft the images in your mind before capturing an image,” Jacobs said.

In 2007, Jacobs started to write for the Fremont Tribune as a columnist and wrote about his experiences around the world.

“It became clear to me that if I was going to travel and use what I do to make a difference,” Jacobs said. “Writing was a skill set I needed that would impact a lot of people.”

Jacobs is now a freelance photographer and writer for the paper. His column is full of stories about his travels. 

“I don’t get paid a lot, the nickels and dimes add up eventually,” Jacobs said. “But the real opportunity is that it keeps me writing, which hopefully sometime in the future will transform into another book.”

His first book, “Wondrous Journey” is about his first trip around the world. His second book, “Wondrous Creatures” is an award-winning children’s book about the animal kingdom.

Looking through his children’s book, it’s easy to see that Jacobs has accomplished his dream and seen the world. He said one of his remaining goals is to visit Antartica.

“My advice to you is to always dream big, live tall,” Jacobs said. “So we can make the world better.”

As a photojournalist, Jacobs’ advice is to be intentional and committed to your work.

“Challenge yourself to be the best you can be,” Jacobs said. “Life rewards those who put themselves in the game in a big way.”