Text by Bethany Rex
Each issue of Aesthetica features works by some of today’s rising stars in photographic practice from around the world. This year’s August/September issue featured the work of Lara Jade, a fashion, portraiture and commercial photographer who has worked with brands such as Sony and magazines such as Elle. Originally from the UK, Lara has relocated to New York City where she has collaborated with commercial photographer Joey L for LJ vs JL Photographer Shoot-Off, a photographic educational DVD which was released on 1 December. Lara took some time out of her busy schedule to speak to Aesthetica about the project and her current work.
A: First of all, could you tell us a bit more about your project LJ vs JL Photographer Shoot-Off?
LJ: Of course! This comprehensive photography tutorial DVD is a collaboration between me and photographer Joey L – we’ve been working closely for the past two years to develop an interesting way to share our knowledge and experience with amateur and professional photographers alike. The content has a comedic-aspect for viewing purposes (both ‘rival’ photographers competing to find who is the better photographer on a set number of ‘challenges’) but it is jam-packed with knowledgeable information: behind the scenes videos, interviews, technical information and Photoshop tutorials.
A: Are you both self-taught photographers? If so, when did you first start to develop an interest in being professional photographers?
LJ: Essentially our styles have been a process of self-learning and experimentation over many years. We both started photography (seriously) around the same time (around the age of fourteen/fifteen) and have honed our skills through trial and error and gaining knowledge by constantly working. My own personal journey began at the age of fourteen where I first picked up a camera and started experimenting with themes of self-portraiture and fine-art photography. For Joey, it’s slightly more humorous: he started filming ‘home movies’ of dinosaurs (inspired by Jurassic Park) at the age of seven in his hometown of Lindsay, Ontario then slowly moved onto photographing bands and obviously those bands got more recognisable and in return so did his work!
A: The DVD represents two sides of the photography industry; commercial and fashion. From your experience, what are the essential differences here?
LJ: In my own opinion I think what makes the DVD content unique is that we’re both young photographers working on different sides of the industry (I in the fashion and Joey in the advertising) but what is most recognisable is that we equally both work as hard developing and investing in our personal portfolios. Our styles are completely different but this is what makes the content interesting: the way we shoot and how we produce a shoot from start to finish is completely different and this is what we want to show other photographers – there’s no two photographers the same, everyone is unique.
A: The DVD features a selection of ‘Challenges’. Was there an overall winner here, is something you were aiming for?
LJ: We have four shoot challenges on the DVD which are shot all over the world: Colour Portrait, Studio, On-Location and Shoot A Stranger. We had fun competing in the challenges and we were constantly curious to what the other photographer did, so there was a real element of rivalry involved! What we came to discover is that there is not an obvious victor – everybody shoots differently and the winner essentially comes to what you the viewer think. Ultimately we want to try and inspire each and every photographer with the content we share and hope that they interpret our ideas and knowledge into their own work.
A: Stepping outside of the DVD world, which photographers’ work are you following closely at the moment?
LJ: Admittedly I don’t try to look for inspiration in the obvious places – I’m always thinking outside of the box. I find the best inspiration in closed places – old books, movies, the fine-art themes in the masters of photography and in every day life. Some of the photographer’s I currently find inspiration in are artists like Ellen Von Unwerth, Steven Meisel, Tim Walker & Richard Avedon. Being a fashion photographer there has to be some element of styling interest so I try to find that through individual characters; What are they expressing? What is their personality? What styles are in right now and how can I interpret that in my own work?
A: Finally, what’s the most exciting project you’ve both got coming up in 2012?
LJ: We are both expanding our personal photography portfolios (as well as any commercial work that comes our way) and I have a number of travelling opportunities next year for personal work and workshops. 2012 should be a great year for us both!
Image 1 & 2: Courtesy Lara Jade
Image 3 & 4: Courtesy Joey L