I'm excited to introduce you all to NZ born photographer, Jenna Smith.
When I first saw Jenna's work, I immediately loved it because of how beautifully she captures water. I've always been drawn to the ocean, it's hard to explain but there's something about it that feels healing in some way. Recently I reached out to Jenna to see whether she'd be interested in working together on a small collaboration and interview. Jenna took the most beautiful self portraits in a few of my pieces, I was blown away when she sent them to me.
Take a read of our interview and see a selection of her incredible images below.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? Did you always want to be a photographer?
I always knew I wanted a career with physicality to it, where I could craft something and bring ideas together visually. Growing up on the beach in Western Aus and NZ, swimming, surfing and being by the ocean, has definitely led me to the work I do now. I remember the first time I shot images with my underwater housing off the coast of Terrigal. I was in the water on a clear sunny day, and the feeling of pure bliss and contentment overwhelmed me. I was hooked on seeking out these moments from then on.
I studied a BA in Photography at Charles Sturt University before moving on to work at a gallery, and assisting other commercial and fashion photographers in NZ and London.
What led you to the work you do now?
I’m a pretty nostalgic person and tend to covett objects and memories. I’ve moved around a lot and travelled a fair bit in my adult life, and I think photography was always a way for me to document and express myself. It has been the constant in my life, a place I can come back to. Photography freezes moments in time, whether it's the movement in a wave, flicker of light or the way a garment falls on a model as they move. In a world that is so fast-paced and full of movement, I love that I can draw the viewer’s attention to a particular moment of beauty.
What influences the style of your work and where do you seek creative inspiration?
I am heavily influenced by the changing landscape around me and the location I’m in. This became really clear to me after moving to London; the wild land and beaches of Aus and NZ were replaced by the city, and colour was replaced with relentless grey.
I found inspiration in being amongst such a vibrant, busy fashion community and having access to wider archives of international artwork in galleries and museums. Although I loved the juxtaposition of being amongst it all in the city, I feel so lucky right now to live back in NZ. Being back home with a car and having the freedom to take off on a roadtrip and create some interesting imagery feels so rich after the limitations of shooting outdoors on location in the UK.
What advice would you give someone looking to pursue photography professionally?
When I started, I wish someone had told me to just get stuck in. Get in touch with photographers and studios for opportunities to assist, and in the meantime shoot as much as you can. Be prepared to work hard, and despite what they say, it IS ok to take work for free sometimes, as long as you feel like you’re learning or gaining something from the experience in return. In my opinion, you don’t have to know every piece of equipment or every technical term to be a good photographer. Follow your heart and your creative intuition, and work with people who appreciate you.
What would be your dream creative project? Is there any subject you would like to photograph that you haven't already?
I’ve been dreaming up a project that features strong women and their ties to the ocean. My mother was a competitive windsurfer and I grew up surrounded by a few other women who pioneered surfing and windsurfing for women in WA. It would be cool to pull more of these stories together and create a wider series of portraits.
How would you explain your own personal style?
I’d say my personal style is a bit eclectic, I’m attracted to unusual vintage pieces and unique patterns. Colour features heavily in my wardrobe and I often struggle to buy plain basics because I get too obsessed with a weird or colourful fabric, haha. I pull it all together with a few staples I can’t live without; A leather jacket, off-white Reeboks and my jewellery.
What factors do you take into account when purchasing clothing?
Firstly, where the product is made and who made it! I’m trying really hard to buy from local designers made in AUS and NZ as much as possible, and buy second hand when I can’t afford something new. I think about the price quite a lot ( being a creative, income is variable...also having Dutch heritage, I love a bargain!) and how much wear I will get out of the piece. This is why I love DH so much, the pieces I have are so versatile, easy to wear in multiple seasons, and I can dress them up or down.