For the Love and Not the Money
Jess Brohier is a fashion, art, and lifestyle Photographer and Art Director based in Melbourne, Australia. Her art brings about the notion of stopping time to create inspiring, fierce silhouettes and shapes. Street style fashion, so commonly found in Jess’ themes, is about characters with strong personalities in the hectic seemingly unstoppable life of the city. The frame pauses life just for the second to grasp the magic of the moment. The result is an imagined story of a seemingly real person interrupted on the way.
Jess worked with clients like ZOMP SHOEZ, KUWAII, TOMS, Ka-He, Limb the Label, NIQUE, Ghospell (London), and many others. She had several group shows in exhibitions as Goodspace Gallery, Chippendale, NSW, AUS and RVCA Gallery Collingwood, Melb AUS in 2018.
We speak about becoming a photographer, the prominence of self-redefinition and finding one own’s niche, the challenges in Art Direction, and the future solo show Jess will have in Melbourne.
Hi Jess, tell about yourself, where did you grow up?
Hello! I was born and raised in the far south-east suburbs of Melbourne Australia, however, have been living in the west and north the last few years. Growing up in what felt like a very sheltered suburban environment I struggled to feel as though I fit, until finally moving to the inner city in the mid-twenties, where I've definitely now found my place.
Why photography, what is special in this profession for you and what motivates you to wake up in the morning?
Photography was something I never planned, and I never really felt driven towards. I was always an artist and illustrator from childhood, and that was what always fired me. I picked up a camera in 2010, and it began a long term relationship, swinging between photo taking and drawing, until one day I never put the camera down. I've only recently gone back to drawing actually!
Being able to work professionally as a photographer is a blessing that I never take for granted. I still feel real disbelief that people want to pay me to do exactly what I want creatively. It's really too good to be true, and I'm very, very lucky to be in such a position!
Life motivates me to wake up in the morning! There's too much amazingness in this world to take anything for granted or not live as presently as possible. There is always something beautiful to be found in every situation.
What social impact would you strive your work to have on the closest circles it can have an immediate effect on?
In recent months I've actually really wanted to redefine my personal impact on the work I create. I've had a bit of a break the last 6 months from creative personal work for this reason. I'm figuring out which direction I want to move into for the next work. At the moment, it revolves around creating imagery that tells stories, that emanates moods. I want people to feel something from my work, mostly as I like to explore my psyche and personal mental states through art direction. I'm looking to create work that is more explicit in this delivery. I want my work to offer connection or even feelings of understanding. To touch on subjects not often covered in the steady stream of bright happy images we are inundated with every single day. To illustrate and give voice to the darker parts of life that we all deal with, more often in secret.
"I want my work to offer connection or even feelings of understanding. To touch on subjects not often covered in the steady stream of bright happy images we are inundated with every single day. To illustrate and give voice to the darker parts of life that we all deal with, more often in secret".
Fashion Weeks BTS, studio shoots, commercials, film direction - what is the most challenging yet the most satisfying aspect of your work?
Definitely art direction. I currently art direct all my personal and most client work and have recently been privileged enough to start exploring AD also within video with my best friend, Jordan. Art direction is certainly the most challenging, as it requires not only research but mostly uniqueness. All art is a version of something else, but creating work with a fresh take or a particular, distinct style, or even making new imagery different to what I have in the past, is always the hardest part. But also the most rewarding when I feel I've managed to achieve something interesting and worthwhile.
You shoot a lot of the street style and underground youthful fashion brands. What is your favorite clothing brand or what could one see you usually wear?
They are my favourite clientele and also make up most of my work! My favourite client and local label here in Melbourne is Ka-He, run by an amazing lady who is also a good friend of mine, as we have been working together now for a few years. My wardrobe is actually quite simple, I love thrifting, and that makes up most of my everyday uniform. This coupled with favourite gifted pieces from local labels and a few workwear and designer bits here and there.
What do you think are today’s most influential steps for the artists to take to get noticed and get his personal brand on the map?
Honestly, you have to do the work. You have to do the work to get the rewards. There is no easy way around this. It was the same 10 years ago when I was a young, lost, hopeful, artist attending creative conferences and dreaming about one day working in a creative career. Everyone's advice was the same. Work hard, stay humble. Whatever it is, just do it, do it all the time. Do it until you can own it. That and networking. Both are as important as each other. The way I see it, if you meet the right person but don't have the work, you won't get anywhere. And if you have the work but don't meet the person, it's still not going to work. Although now, 'meeting that person' could be as simple as the right director, editor, agent or whoever, clicking that one time on your Instagram link. Make good work, and put it out into the world. If it's honest, authentic and for the love and not the money, someone will notice it.
"I feel like I have so much time to get it all sorted, and at the same time, not much at all to enjoy it to its full capacity".
How would you describe your genre and how would you like your works to be perceived?
I don't really know! I think my work sits somewhere between fashion and art which makes it kind of niche. So I guess people will either like it, or they won't. I just make it for myself, so I'm okay with that. I want people to find their own meaning within it, so I'm happy leaving it open to interpretation.
You work a lot with having two models in the frame. How do you create a balance for the appearance of two talents and how does it help to frame the narrative?
It's quite hard actually... directing two people to sit comfortably with each other requires a relationship between them. I usually try to work with friends, or sometimes I'm lucky, and the models are open-minded people and able to allow another person into their space relatively easily. I also always try to create a really lovely comfortable set, so everyone kind of feels like they are just hanging out and this takes the pressure off.
Having two in the frame for me usually tells a story of either two sides on oneself, or sometimes yourself in relation to the other. Depending on the shoot, I'm usually trying to convey a commentary about either of these two things.
You speak about the concept of time or taking time versus rushing through things and life in one of your works. Do you feel you have more time today?
I feel like I have so much time to get it all sorted, and at the same time, not much at all to enjoy it to its full capacity. Lately, I just feel as though I'm making the most of it these days, so I'm currently really happy with how it's passing, overall.
Where does the new idea generate? Is it the film you might watch, a fashion week, inspiration from a conversation or a hard work of creating a story and working on gathering information for the shoot?
It is literally everything, all the time. There is usually a trigger, a face, a song, a conversation, a movie, an art show, a location, anything. From there I just let it flow while creating, and often new ideas seem to appear out of thin air (or my subconscious) when I'm in the zone.
What's next for you down the road this year?
Big things! I'm about to begin work on a series (and actually complete it) and have my first solo show by the end of the year in Melbourne. I also have just started a collaborative agency type project with my best friend, comprising of co-directing art films and photographic stills, which will be launching mid-year. I'll also be travelling back to North America for 3 or 4 months to make work later in the year - and then if there's still time left I'd like to start working on plans for a co-op creative space here in Melbourne. But we'll see what happens!