10 minutes with Jessica Antola

Interviews with Photographers,Random March 24, 2014 8:07 pm

When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?

I grew up in a family of travelers and, from a young age, visited places like Tibet, India and Antarctica. My camera was always with me and I recorded my adventures through my images. Consequently, at an early age, photography came naturally. Growing up in Los Angeles in the 80’s I was surrounded by an art world that was colorful and unrestrained. I was enthralled with the LA art community from a young age and have fond memories of the Venice Art Walk, where local artists opened their studio doors and let the public explore their artistic spaces. I felt so at home in this world and knew I wanted to be an artist. David Hockney, with his fauvist palette, was an early influence. On a family trip to Egypt when I was thirteen, I shot The Sphinx from about 30 different angles and then arranged the prints, as Hockney did in his photographic collages; like Hockney, I even included a shot of my feet in the foreground! As a Fine Art major at Cornell University, I initially concentrated on painting and sculpture, but I also began to print color photographs and use a 4×5 camera. At that point, I think photography became my primary artistic focus. I assisted photographers for a few years in Portland, OR, and then went to The Art Center College of Design where I learned more about the commercial side of photography. I started shooting for magazines when I moved to Paris after graduation.

How long were you in Paris?

I was in Paris for five years.

Where are you based now?

I’ve lived in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn for the past seven years.

What would your dream assignment be?

My dream assignment is one where I’m hired for my creative vision, surrounded by great people and shooting somewhere fabulous! Basically I’m drawn to assignments that involve travel and creative freedom. I feel lucky to have had several dream assignments over the past twelve years. One of which was my first big advertising job for The American Express Centurion Card in 2005. I was based in Paris at the time and we shot the campaign all over Argentina, New York, Morocco and The Turks and Caicos. I think I was on the road for close to six weeks. It was a pretty epic assignment.

I also love assignments where I have a chance to photograph people who inspire me creatively. Some of these subjects have included: Zaha Hadid in Istanbul, Sonia Rykiel in Paris and John Waters in Baltimore.

If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?

One of the most important things is to trust your instincts. Ask for advice and listen to others, but, in the end, know that you are the best judge of what is right for yourself. Even though this is obvious, trusting your gut is crucial- the consistency in your work will reflect this. Build relationships with clients, potential clients and have as many meetings as much as possible. No matter how great your agent is no one can promote you as well as you can promote yourself. Make time for creativity and personal work- this is ultimately what will land you the jobs you want. Focus on your personal vision and be true to this (again, by trusting your instincts). Have fun, enjoy the journey and shoot for yourself even if the job doesn’t seem to allow for this.


Jessica is based in New York. See more of her work, here

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