SNAPSHOTS: Hot Events / Inside Selection
Jess Richmond had just graduated from
Parsons School of Design when she was
awarded Grand Prize in PDN’s The Curator.
The series, “The Madness of Many,” featured
Richmond and her imagined twin sister, Connie, in mind- and body-bending scenarios, and
has since traveled in Flash Forward 2017 and
Refinery29’s “ 29 Women We Admire” exhibitions. Her recent clients include Universal Music Group and CASIO, and she continues to work
on fashion and personal projects that play with
the two-dimensionality of photographs.
PDNedu: You have been building upon themes
of identity and the illusion of the picture plane
since you studied at Parsons. When did you be-
gin to develop these ideas?
Jess Richmond: My curiosity has definitely been
the driving force behind my photography. I am
fascinated by the cycle of experimentation
and discovery that exists between capturing
an image and seeing the results. My work has
always been heavily process-based with interest in imagination, playfulness and deception.
These themes have run throughout my
work since I began studying photography.
School created an environment that allowed
me to play and take risks, and I was able to
expand and refine my ideas senior year, which
was devoted solely to one project. I decided
to enlist myself as both subject and creator
so I had absolute control of the images. I have
always been extremely awkward and self-conscious in front of the camera, but that became
something I learned to embrace eventually.
PDNedu: Where do you draw influence for your
work? What inspires you?
JR: I like to make a lot of lists. I jot down anything that pops into my mind: a word, place,
subject, phrase or thing. It’s a way to physically
track my thought process. My work is more of
a reaction to my imagination than to reality. In
my images, a narrative is never clearly defined
and no image is completely location specific;
rather, they exist in a place that meshes the
imagined with reality. I thrive in that “
in-between” because nothing has to make sense,
and there is freedom in that.
PDNedu: How does your personal work influence
your editorial eye?
JR: I like all my work to come from a single voice.
I think it is crucial to have a perspective that
makes your work unique both aesthetically
and intellectually. I’m drawn to color and form,
so whether I’m shooting a fashion lookbook or
a personal body of work, these are the things I
will focus on. I recently shot an album cover for
a band and, in the same week, a look book for
an accessories company. Although [they were
very] different subjects, both [shoots] related
to my style. If you have a clear voice you will
attract the proper clients for your work.
PDNedu: You’ve been out of school for almost a
year now. What would you say has been your
biggest learning experience?
JR: You can’t doubt yourself. There will be
enough people that will, and you can’t let
yourself be one of them. Stay laser-focused on
your goals and be proud of your own personal
progress; don’t continually compare yourself.
PDNedu: What has been working for you in
terms of promotion and networking?
JR: Instagram has been so great for me. It has
been a networking tool for connecting with
both prospective clients as well as fellow artists. Allies are so important in this industry.
Keep in touch with professors and fellow students. After school they will become your base
Many Figures, One Voice
Interview by JACQUI PALUMBO
Attend: Portland Photo
Month, Flash Forward
This April, spend some time in Portland, Oregon, during the city’s month-long celebration
of photography, coordinated by Photolucida.
The nonprofit works with local galleries and
organizations to host events and shows that
feature contemporary work from a wide
range of photographers. The first week of
May, Boston will host Flash For ward Festival,
which offers free programming of seminars,
nightly events and exhibitions.
Apply: The Eddie Adams
If you’re a new visual journalist seeking an
intensive workshop that will build your portfolio and your network, apply for The Eddie
Adams Workshop by May 29. A group of 100
hand-picked applicants spend four days
each year at the late photographer’s barn
in Jefferson, New York, working in teams to
produce a project, having their portfolios
reviewed and listening to renowned photographers. Last year’s speakers included
Deanne Fitzmaurice, Gillian Laub, Eugene
Richards and Phillip Toledano.
THIS PAGE: In Richmond’s work, she replicates herself with life-sized paper cutouts, then
fools the eye by experimenting with different gestures and interactions.