Have Camera, Will Travel

The restless genius of Clay Enos ’91.

By Judith Pratt

Clay Enos describes himself as an itinerant polymath and artist. He sells organic coffee, promotes locally grown organic food, travels cross-country on a Vespa, and works on movie sets as a photographer, nutrition consultant, and physical trainer.

Recently he worked on Watchmen, which opened early in 2009 to the delight of aficionados of graphic novels, and published Watchmen: Portraits, a book of black-and-white photography of the film’s cast.

This multifaceted career began with a degree in film, photography, and visual arts from the Roy H. Park School of Communications. Then, Clay says, “I let curiosity be my guide.” That led to a job in graphic design in his hometown — New York City — and investing in the dot com boom.

“When the bust came, I fell with it, but I knew what I loved,” says Clay. “You can’t keep shelving your dreams. Money is not the game. The game is just waking up and doing what you love.”

What he loves is photography (check out and travel. He’s been to 49 countries, including much of Europe and South America. So when a journalist friend asked him in early 2007 to join her on a trip to South America to document coffee growing, Clay says, “I just went for the plane ticket. If your pursuit is adventure and doing the right thing, go for it.”

After meeting the farmers who grow coffee, Clay was inspired to enlist an importer and roaster to create Organic Coffee Cartel, with a simple mission: to become the world’s most charitable coffee company. “We sell quality coffee and then turn around and use the money for charitable good, all the while having fun and thumbing our noses at conventional design and branding,” he explains. “The whole idea is to do good with great coffee — and to have fun doing it. So far, we’ve kept to the plan.”

Right now, however, he has put the coffee business on the back burner in order to work with Zack Snyder on his new movie Sucker Punch, which is being filmed in Vancouver. The two connected through Snyder’s wife, Deborah, neé Johnson ’91. “I met her in the first week of our freshman year at Ithaca College,” Clay recalls. Both were Park School students, and they remained friends throughout college. To ratchet up the adventure, Clay asked the Vespa corporation to give him a scooter, which they did, and he created a website to document his cross-country journey to the set:

Although he says marketing is his primary focus as the photographer on film projects, Clay’s photos may also appear in the movie itself. (Watchmen lovers, check out the background of the first scene: Enos created the framed portrait of Lori.) A man of versatile talents, he also trains the cast and crew and counsels them on nutrition.

So, what’s next? “Continued Vespa adventures through Central America,” says Clay. “I’m going to document where my coffee comes from and see if I can craft all my efforts into some sort of coherent presentation.” He’d like to give lectures — live — because, he explains, “if you’re lecturing, you’re traveling.”