Jess Brohier is an award-winning fashion, art and lifestyle photographer and art director, who was born and raised in Melbourne.
She’s always had a passion for photography and illustration and began her professional journey in 2010. Since then, she’s been working with big names such as Nike, New Balance, Lisa Mitchell and has been published in schon! Magazine, l’officiel vietnam, fashion journal and many other publications.
Today her work focuses on empowering and uplifting women, through a female gaze. If you check her Instagram account, you’ll see how Jess perceives and portrays women: as mysterious, mesmerizing, powerful and special beings.
I was tired of seeing women in classical images photographed by men in a way that was seductive, objectifying and as something to serve male desire – I always felt as though it diminished the power that we, as women hold.
I yearned to create a safe space for the female subject to truly empower herself. In my images she is not reduced to a form for a desirable gaze, but invited to embody her own sensuality, for herself, and all women. In saying this – I follow, respect and truly admire quite a few male photographers who are able to portray women in this same way.
For Jess, a great photograph is made up of many elements that are harmoniously glued together in order to capture the magic of life:
Good composition, careful consideration of light, and most of all, capturing the soul of a person, place or thing. Magic of life, captured in a split second that transports you somewhere else in that moment.
She sees connecting with her subject as the most important element in laying the foundation for a great image. One session she remembers well, that taught her this valuable lesson, took place 9 years ago. It was one of the first times she shot for a magazine editorial piece, photographing a musician in New York:
The first shot I took of him, at the time, I thought was a nice portrait. As we spent the next 2-3 hours wandering around the city, getting food and chatting, I really got to know him and he became a friend. The last portrait of the day I took of him was the special one. It moved me so much because I could see our friendship and new understanding of each other in his eyes.
That was when I learnt about the constitution of a good portrait, and that the photographer’s connection with the subject is everything. There are lots of things that make a great image, but this is still the thing I believe to be the most important after all these years. He is still a lovely friend of mine, and I connect with him each time I go back to NYC.
To create her amazing pieces, she uses a Nikon D850 + Sigma Art series 24-70mm lens. On 35mm film it’s a Nikon FM10 with either 28mm or 50mm, and for medium format, her go-to is her Mamiya RZ67 with a 110mm or 65mm.
First and foremost, she believes that the skills and personal touch of the photographer make a good photo, not the gear they use. Even your phone can take amazing photos!
People used to often ask what camera and lens I use, and my answer is always the same, I can tell you but really that won’t help you if you don’t understand the basic principles of image making. I’ve seen some killer images shot on iPhone cameras and I’ve definitely taken more than a few of my favorites myself on this simple, well made tool.
Finally, we wanted to know one thing that has really helped her to grow into the artist she is now. While there are so many lessons to choose from, she emphasizes the importance of switching off from time to time:
I have been on the hustle for a very long time, and always was told you have to work so very hard to get anywhere creatively (which is wholeheartedly true) – but what is rarely mentioned as much, is how important it is to not do anything at times.
Creativity for me flows best when I am not working, not thinking, not stressed and not pushing. I need to balance my life with Yin activities, like camping, spending time with friends, going on holidays and doing yoga, in order to allow time for my creative mind to flourish.
My best ideas come when I am not doing anything at all, for a reasonable period of time. We need to allow ourselves time to dream, otherwise I feel like I get too caught up in the here and now, and what happened before and what happens next. All of which means there is no time for a higher level of creative inspiration.
Learn more about Jess and her work on jessbrohier.com!