10 Questions: Jessica Tremp

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Melbourne based Australian photographer Jessica Tremp shoots Weddings to pay her bills whilst also being an accomplished fine art photographer. With no formal training in photography, Jessica made an impressive journey from being a full-time dance student to photographer with many gallery representations internationally under her belt. Her work is also widely published in photography art journals. Haunting, poetic and mesmerising – with a strong artistic narration and fluid energy – Jessica’s painterly work draws you in, hungry for clues; wanting more. 

Editor’s Note: Some of the images in this post contains nudity.

1. What does making images mean to you?

It’s a way for me to explain something I can’t find the right words for.

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2. What is life to you? What it should be?

Some days I get lost thinking about the suffering in some parts of the world or some people’s lives, or a feeling of impending doom of the apocalyptic type. Some days I just get lost in dirty laundry. Life to me is finding beauty in the imperfect and contentment in even the crazy moments of life. It’s trying to live simpler every year with quality over quantity at all fronts, including food, relationships, material posessions, etc. Trying to leave a small footprint environmentally and a big positive mark on someone else’s life, whether that’s a child, stranger, someone you love close to you or people struggling on the other side of the planet.

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3. How does where you live influence your creativity?

Being slightly removed from the city means I can breathe just that little bit easier. I can see myself, my work, family and friendships a tiny bit more objectively without feeling completely boxed in. I’ve always been drawn to nature ever since I was a little girl and being surrounded by it, reminds me it’s still there, just breathing away by my side. It’s a wonderful companion.

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4. There are a lot of professions out there – why be a photographer?

I never truly decided to make photography my profession. I photographed for the heart. Over time jobs just kept creeping in and one day I had to realize that I’d gradually built up to full time work. I work for myself, shooting weddings under the name Brown Paper Parcel in the warmer months and trying to carve time for my own fine art work when the cooler seasons roll around.

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5. Are you creativity satisfied at the moment?

No, not entirely. Having two little children under school age and a full time job means I very rarely have the time or energy to create. I’m using this time to build a cache of ideas, fleshing them out on walks and drives, ready to (hopefully) turn into realities when life permits. I sometimes also find photography a tough medium. It’s so heavily oversaturated. I do a little bit of pottery on the side and working with my hands really appeals to me a lot.

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6. What music are you listening to?

I love listening to my husband Michael flesh out a song he’s writing on his guitar or practising with band members in the living room the most. Otherwise, we tend to listen to older music at home Sibylle Baier for when I’m feeling romantic The Velvet Underground, The Brian Jonestown Massacre very loud on a roadtrip or after a few whiskeys much too late in the night Syd Barrett and Skip Spence when I’m feeling clever and plotting plans The Kinks on jumpy itchy vinyl with friends around Jason Molina, Big Star, Elliott Smith or Neil Young to soothe a touchy heart Billie Holiday, ol’ Blue Eyes Sinatra or Hawaiian records while I’m cooking a feast for family or friends There’s also plenty of room in my days for Jonathan Richman, Kurt Vile and Sharon Van Etten.

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7. Describe your path to what you’re doing now.

I’ve always needed a creative outlet. When I was younger, this could be hours and hours locked away in my room with my pencils and fresh pads of drawing paper. I’ve studied dancing full-time, written songs, though I generally only sing in private and wish I could paint better. Photography is the single one medium that has been by my side the most consistently. It just linked arms with me one day and hasn’t let go. Through years of dabbling and no formal training, I began to grow into my style more and more. I never set out to make a living off it. That was something that gradually just occurred after I landed a few lucky shows at galleries and people asking me to shoot weddings and editorials. Now I’m incredibly lucky to call it my full time job. I make a clear separation between work and personal photography. This gives me the freedom to shoot entirely for myself when I’m working on something personally without needing or wanting to impress anyone. It does also feel different behind the lens. At a wedding, I enjoy being the fly on the wall and employing a photojournalistic approach to the way I shoot. It’s very reactive and I need to think quickly, instinctively and be swift on my toes. For my personal work, I can mull over an idea a little longer. I’d like to say both aspects of photography are always nurtured, though quite often lately with my own work it feels like time and inspiration pass each other like two ships in the night. It’s hard to have both at the same time.

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8. Have you had any mentors along the way?

Not really, no. I have a few like minded friends and over the years we have helped each other develop our practises, both in business and personal work, bounced ideas off of each other and supported one another whenever we could.

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9. Do you shoot with your left or right eye?

Left.

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10. Where do you see yourself in 10 year’s time?

The only thing I’d truly change about where I am right now is a little bit more of a ‘life/work’ balance. I’d love to have more time on my hands to read, create, sit in a bathtub and ponder about life. Enjoy my kids. That kind of thing. Otherwise I’m really quite happy with where I’m at right now.

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Bonus Q: Do you think the gear you use affects the way you photograph? Why?

I have to be honest, I’m probably one of the least gadgety people. I don’t really like talking about it much either. I think you can create really beautiful work with almost any tool. I feel like it’s asking the chef what oven he uses. I’d much rather hear about his ingredients and what he’d cook himself after a long, hard day. But I own and shoot on Canon SLR’s, prime lenses, iphone, Hasselblad, 80’s plastic film camera.

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Field Notes:

I wish I shot more analog and I would love to do more of it in the future, however as I’m a very impatient person, digital is usually what I fall back on.


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