Interview with Jess Miley, Photographer

In ART & FASHION, Commentary, HOME by Jess Miley



Your photographs show off-beat urban areas and everyday scenes of young people you know (am I right?) What inspires you to take the image in that instant?

My inspiration for taking the photographs arises from the environment which I’m in and the people that surround me. I enjoy taking photos of the people I love having fun. Most recently I have been interested in urban living which stems from my degree (Geography, UCL) in which urban places and spaces plays a vast part so therefore a lot of my most recent photographs are of estates and social housing in South London.


12788307_10208405738358945_198519394_nDo you preconceive a set-up for a photograph or does it tend to be coincidental?

Most of the photographs I take tend to be coincidental, whether at a party or event with my friends or when I’m wandering about exploring wherever I am as I always carry a camera and a few rolls of film with me. The best photographs tend to be those that I didn’t expect and in areas I just happened to be in.

How does your use of a film camera impact your approach?

My use of film camera impacts my approach as it slows me down and ensures that I actually take a closer look at my surroundings. As film only has a certain number of exposures, unlike digital in which you can take thousands of photos, it makes me ensure that the subject or scene I am shooting is exactly what I want to take. Therefore, I believe using film makes me think twice about everything I am shooting. It forces me to pay attention to things that many people wouldn’t notice. I also enjoy using a film camera for the element of surprise, to see if your photographs captured exactly what you wanted them to, and for me there’s no better feeling than looking at the photographs for the first time after getting the role developed.

12769452_10208405739038962_2094294268_n.jpgIs the place you take the photograph in important to you?

Yes definitely, the place and the environment in which I take the photograph are extremely important, and are just as important as the people who may be in them. The place plays a central part to most of my photography and I feel like I use my camera as a tool to explore the different spaces and places that I shoot.

When you develop the photographs what do you look for? What makes it successful in your opinion?

I look for the most memorable photographs from the role developed, and the ones that stand out instantly or I remember when first scanning through the results are normally the ones I believe to be most successful. Although it sounds cliché, I believe that the most successful photographs are those that cause some sort of emotional response, because this is what makes a photograph memorable, as it places the viewer in the moment that the shot was taken.

12781986_10208405739198966_1181407417_n.jpgDo you feel like your images are a reflection of youth identity or only some aspects of it?

My images are only a small aspect of youth identity as they’re mostly of students living in London partying and having a good time, and although this represents some aspects of today’s youth, it’s not the full picture and doesn’t reflect the whole identity of ‘youth’ and ‘youth’ culture. To reflect this, I believe the images would have to incorporate images of youths from various different backgrounds, living all over world.

Do you feel the need to depict diversity in your works? For instance different people/places/compositions?

I don’t feel the need to depict diversity in my works, I just think this happens naturally, as the majority of the images I shoot are just in the moment and are not preconceived. I feel that each shot, whether it be of the same person or of a similar place of what I’ve previously shot, then the end outcome is always different as it was taken in a different time, and the person in the picture may be feeling a different emotion or doing something else so therefore this creates the diversity. Each image although it may look similar, is different.

12790164_10208405738878958_54748772_oWhen you look at these documentations of London do you see home?

Yes I see home. London has been my home for the past three years and although my family are not with me and I wasn’t born here, I feel like the group of friends I have made here, who frequently feature in my work are what make London a home for me.

Have you/would you consider photographing scenes in your hometown in Liverpool?

Yes definitely, I have taken a few photographs of my hometown, but not as much as I have wanted, as I really got into photography when I moved to London. But yes Liverpool has some beautiful architecture and landscapes which I would love to explore.


12773466_10208405739878983_1679607162_oYou take some pictures in Berlin which isn’t your home… Would you say this changes your perspective? (Or is it more about the local environment and individuals that make a home?)

It changes my perspective slightly in respect to the fact I find myself taking more photographs in Berlin because I don’t know when ill be able to visit again next, so I try to make the most of my time there, but in respect to it feeling like home, some of my best friends live there and when I do visit I feel like I am still taking pictures of my home too with how my friends make me feel included in their every day life.

Jess Miley

Undoubtedly London’s queen of social media Jess Miley is less well known for her studies in Geography than she is her creative talents in the virtual sphere. With an ability to turn any dull online comment into a viral sensation, she is forever entertaining her fans. Perhaps it is the cap and trusty puffer jacket that she is never seen without that is the secret to her wit.

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