Jessica Grilli

Jessica photographed above by Stephanie Cammarano.

Recently I’ve had an overwhelming desire to start working more collaboratively with other small businesses and local creatives.

I’m not sure whether you’ve had a similar feeling with everything going on these past few months? It struck me how much more interesting small businesses make the world and how much I didn’t want them to disappear.

The response and support my small business has received from all of you over the last few months has been amazing and I know I’ve personally been seeking out more local businesses within the community I too can support. This has led me to launch a continued collaborative series where I’ll start sharing some of my favourite local talents with you that you may not have heard of. First up... meet Jessica Grilli.

Jessica Grilli is one of those people who instantly lights up the room. She’s bubbly, genuine, and thoughtful, and can make pretty much anyone feel comfortable in front of the camera. Jessica is a Melbourne based freelance photographer, who draws inspiration from the subtleties, colours and textures of natural environments, as well as people who inhabit creative places and spaces.

We had a little chat with Jessica, take a read below.... 

Did you always want to be a photographer? When did you start shooting/purchase your very first camera? 

To be honest I did not know what I wanted to do for a long time! I always loved taking photographs and was always the one amongst my friends to take photos at birthday parties.  was very much into the disposable/waterproof camera girl for most of the pre-teen times but was gifted my first digital camera when I was 14, it was a little Canon XY DIGITAL 320. It was amazing! 3 megapixels or something, I think some iPhones are 8-12 now to give you an idea of the quality!  

What led you to the work you do now? 

After year 12  I put the camera aside for a few years. I studied teaching and became an Art teacher in 2013. In my first year of teaching I was given an incredibly difficult class of year 9 students and it was a sink or swim moment for me. The students were going to eat me alive if I did not know my stuff and  I had never taught digital photography, I learnt in the dark room! So I did a short course, bought a new digital camera and became obsessed with photographing people with their dogs on the side of teaching!

I was on a mission to find out what type of dog I wanted to buy. The camera was glued to my hip for about 2 years. I would take photographs on my walks, free periods and any opportunity that I had to travel. I was obsessed, I am obsessed. I love making images but I am not interested in talking about gear. It’s all in the eyes and heart. Anyone can take a photo, not everyone can create a feeling. 

What has been your favourite location / and or subject you've photographed?

The most photographic place I have ever seen is the South Island of New Zealand! I think I walked around with my eyes peeled back!  The colours, textures and scale of everything made me feel so small but so peaceful! I did break my wrist pretty badly there too, I had to take a couple of months off taking photos. Which was such a shame because while I was on that trip I was asked to shoot a dog themed calendar for a particular Melbourne vet clinic. Potentially that would have been my favourite job!

In all honesty, it’s really tough to pick a particular person, I have loved working with all of my subjects. I get the most joy out of documenting people in their element, making things with their hands. Hands are a little obsession of mine.  

What influences the style of your photography?

Most of my work is influenced by how I am feeling, music and the weather.  I consider photography to be a means of therapy! I must take a photo or document something atleast once a day, it’s a part of my routine. It forces me to slow down and quietens my head. Sometimes it also just makes me laugh. I will usually have head phones in while taking photos which has definitely had an impact on the composition of my work. Symmetry and triangles. Many triangles.

A selection of Jessica's prints above available online here.

Are there any other creatives/artists/photographers you're loving at the moment? 

This is a hard one! There's so many, but at the moment I am in love with the photographic works of Iris Humm, Viviane Sassen, Anu Kumar and Elena Cremona. I am particularly drawn to photographers who document moments that capture your attention due to their unique way of composing an image but also those who embrace the element of chance. The works of Viviane Maier, Martin Parr, Gordon Parks, and William Eggleston always inspire me, they all use colour or light in such interesting ways. Martin Parr in particular makes me smile, his work is so humourlessly benal! I wish we could catch up for a coffee, I feel like we would have a good laugh together. My favourite visual artists at the moment are Andy Murray, Evie Cahir, Dane Lovitt, and Emily Ferretti- their use of colour speaks to me! I am all about those vivid colours.

What's your dream creative project? Anything in particular you'd love to photograph, that you haven't already? 

To be sent on an assignment for one of my favourite magazines like Atlas Magazine, Appartamento, Pleasure Garden, Plant Magazine or Holiday would be a dream. I have a project in mind that involves Italy but I know it will have to wait a while. 

I hope I can photograph the orchid society meet up later this year. Those flowers are wild and a science technician at my work enters his flowers into the show. I have one foot in the door!

I would also like to make a photo book that explores some of my own personal challenges and am currently thinking about how to put the photographs together and make this a reality.

What do you love most about living in Melbourne? 

I love how each suburb is completely diverse. It’s a city of many little cities. The diversity means that there is always something interesting to see, eat and do. I also love how many wonderful creative people there are out there making and designing. Whether it is fashion, jewellery, furniture, or art, this city tries its best to support these talents. I am so grateful for the people I have worked with so far as they have helped me to use my camera and push my own skills. Thank you people.

Top 5 favourite local spots? (Suburbs, galleries, cafes, bars, restaurants...) Best kept Melbourne secret? 

I have been living in the inner North for the past few years and have to say it has stolen my heart. I love Allpress Espresso, Napier Quarter and am obsessed with croissants. Almond croissants from Loafer make me very happy. It’s a blessing and curse that I live a stone throw away from the place. I like going to places that have considered the sound and lighting. Neighbourhood wine, Amarillo and Long Play are beautiful spots for a drink and dinner. These know how to create a relaxed ambiance and play great tunes! 

Melbourne's best kept secret is that the weather is not that bad! Autumn has been beautiful and the cool winter weather makes me want to get into lots of crafty projects. Also, grey skies are gorgeous!

What's your favourite item from Dominique's new collection? 

I love everything Dom makes! From this collection, the black and white checkered top has my heart - that neckline makes you feel so elegant! Also, the cream top and skirt is made from such lush fabric that makes you feel comfortable but also very sexy. Dom you genius! 

Jessica photographed above by Stephanie Cammarano 

Top image: Jessica wears the Bella Jumper Houndstooth and Bias Skirt, Sand Linen 

Bottom left image: Jessica wears the Bella Jumper Confetti and Bias Skirt Confetti

Bottom right image: Jessica wears the Minka Jumper Blue Boiled Wool and Bias Skirt Confetti