Jess Hunter who is based in Yakima, WA, also travels to Seattle, Washington, Alaska, Georgia & Florida to shoot weddings. She loves horses as much (if not more) than her photography and sees herself as having a social responsibility to document Alaskan or Native culture in an artistic manner.
1. Why do you make images?
Photography began as a hobby for me, as a creative outlet and as a way to document my life. I have a serious obsession with the past and how time changes things, so I love being able to look back and see that progression. I also love using photographs to elicit an emotion, or illustrate a concept or feeling. I love to make images that make you feel something, that cause you to reflect on yourself or the world around you.
2. What is life to you? What it should be?
Life is unpredictable. So many stories that are constantly shifting and evolving. And to me, beauty is often found in brokenness. Change comes from this, and I find myself being more inspired and renewed after going through something hard and emotional. I love the inspiration I find in that ... so I don't know what life should be, but I do think people need to seek more meaning in their lives. Our lives are so transient and I want what I chase to be worth it.
3. Where did you grow up and how did that play a part in your photography?
I grew up south Georgia. There isn't a strong creative culture there, but despite that my beginnings influenced my outlook and vision. I spent a lot of time outdoors, alone, and to this day those two things recharge and inspire me. I also lived in Alaska for a couple of years after high school and found a lot of my creativity there through the culture, and the experience of moving to, in a sense, a foreign land.
Another factor from growing up would be having a tougher childhood. I see things differently — I find beauty in darkness, and I also think it influences my work in an emotional aspect.
4. There are a lot of professions out there - why be a photographer?
Growing up, I always saw myself with a non-typical job that involved horses. I never had the desire for a "normal" job like a teacher or lawyer, etc. When I began photography, it started as a hobby and a creative outlet but I quickly realized I could turn this into a job and it fit what I always wanted — something I love, and working for myself. It's incredible inspiring to be able to create art for people, and to see glimpses of who these people are and their stories for a living.
5. Do you have a “second profession” or passion?
I love horses — training, barrel racing, just being around them. Growing up I competed in barrel racing and trained horses for myself and other people. I would say I may even love horses just as much if not a little more than photography.
7. Is/Are there any project(s) you wish you could do - or might do?
I am currently doing a self portrait project monthly. More for myself than anything to help me grow creatively.
I also want to document life in the Arctic in an artistic way. I was highly impacted by my time living in rural Alaska, and would love to share more about that culture with the rest of the country as I feel not many people are aware of how different and removed it is from the rest of the U.S.A lot of the content I have seen on Alaska or Natives is done in a more documentary approach but I would love to combine that with some artistic and moving imagery.
8. Do you shoot with your left or right eye?
9. Are there any unseen experimental images in your attic you’d like to show us now?
Some of my older work from when I first began photography in Alaska is on my deviant art account so if you can find that, then you can see some of my more experimental work :)
10. If you were to start all over again, is there anything you would do differently? Why?
I would wait to start my business and spend more time learning about shooting and my "why". I think jumping into the industry put a lot of pressure on me to perform and shoot a certain way to build my business, when it was never truly me that I was shooting for. I also looked at other photographers for inspiration instead of searching within for my inspiration. I believe that looking at others work constantly actually stunts us as artists — finding it within is where greatness begins and I feel like I am finally starting to find my own voice.