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Discovering photography with Jess Brohier

Meet Jess Brohier – a South-Asian-Australian fashion, commercial, and editorial photographer and creative director based in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia. Her work explores themes of identity and surrealism, re-imagining Western beauty concepts through a BIPOC lens. She is known for her versatility in digital and analog mediums, unique color palette, and nuanced use of light. Jess has attracted premier Australian and global fashion, lifestyle, and music clients, showcasing her talent as a lead photographer and creative director/producer. We talked to her about her style, inspirations, and what the future holds. 

What’s your first photo memory?

I remember taking photos on a film point-and-shoot at high school events. At 18, in my senior year, I always brought a little disposable 35mm camera to our swimming and sports carnivals and documented our friends. I loved capturing candid moments of togetherness and youth.

Why did you choose photography?

I didn’t. From a young age, I’d always been delving into various kinds of art: painting, illustration, tattooing, and taking pictures. I would oscillate between drawing and photographs for a long time, and then, one day, I only wanted to take photos. I have always felt like photography chose me. It was the first form of expression I found that was also collaborative, and I’ve always loved working with people and trying to understand them. It has often felt like image-making flows out of me, and it just feels like second nature, like this was the thing I was always meant to do.

Who or what inspires you?

Nowadays, people who make positive changes in the world and find a way to entangle this within their artistic practice inspire me. Ib Kamara, the current editor of Dazed, is a prime example. How he has simultaneously produced an incredible visual and thought-provoking publication while making strides in the commercial space for BIPOC representation is super inspiring to me. These days, creating beautiful things is not enough; for me, it has to mean something. Bold, strange, beautiful scenes, conversations, images, and artwork inspire me. Concepts of Psychology, Sociology, and Surrealism are also large sources of inspiration for my creative practice.

How would you describe your unique style?

I think my images stylistically amalgamate everything I am as a person. My cultural heritage has surrounded me with color and energy from a young age and continues to influence my work substantially. My visual style combines nuanced color choices rooted in a love for nostalgia and a curiosity to explore identity and human experience. I am also a romantic and a dreamer, and I endeavor to create scenes that feel otherworldly, surreal, and cinematic.

What’s a must-have on a photoshoot, and why?

Snacks and a good sense of humor. It’s supposed to be fun! I’ve found I can only get something really worthwhile from the people I’m photographing when they aren’t hungry or uncomfortable, so that’s always my priority.

Do you have a photography experience that stands out to you?

I always returned to the first shoot, where I learned the importance of connecting with a subject. I was 24 years old, traveling in NYC, and I scored a feature in a music magazine, Mass Appeal. I photographed an artist, and it was my first-ever editorial shoot. I recall being super nervous, but the team was great, and we ended up hanging out around the city for 2 hours while I shot his portraits. Later, when I went home, I compared the first portrait I took of him with the last after we’d become friends, and it was almost like two different people; the feeling from each image was worlds apart. That was when I first understood what is required to take a good photo of somebody and how the connection is the most important thing. I’m still friends with that artist, and I’ve seen him almost every time I’ve been back in NYC more than ten years later.

Is there anything that stands out about your workflow?

I’ve gotten very good at making it almost seamless. I follow a very tight set of procedures in pre- and post-production that enable me to operate at speed and without missing a beat 99% of the time. Years of mistakes have proven very helpful in fine-tuning my photographic workflow.

What’s next – anything you’d love to shoot in the future?

I’m about to move part-time to NYC mid-year, which I’ve wanted to do for ten years.
I’m so excited to work with artists and publications on the other side of the world (from Australia) and push my creative boundaries.

I’d love to find a better balance between commercial work and art-making and return to a focus on editorial storytelling. I am also working towards a solo show and photobook that will launch in the next two years.

See more of Jess’ work on her Instagram and website.


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Blurring realities with Carlijn Jacobs

Carlijn Jacobs is a renowned photographer and director based in Paris, known for her distinctive flair and vibrant style. She tells unique stories through her sharp visual imagery, blending observations of mass culture with her artistic influences ranging from Surrealism to Camp. Carlijn’s creative journey began at 14, taking pictures of flowers in her garden. Over the past decade, she has worked for several magazines, including AnOther, i-D, and Dazed, and had her exhibition Sleeping Beauty shown at Foam in 2023. On top of countless fashion campaigns, Carlijn has also released an eponymous photobook. And notably photographed Beyoncé’s Renaissance album artwork.

The voice in her work feels intuitive and unusually real despite touching upon the absurd. A face peeking through a wine glass filled with goldfish and an eyeball superimposed on glossy red lips—the visual paradox in her compositions plays with the viewer’s sense of reality. Her work’s blurred lines, geometric shapes, and playful textures sit in the mind as she transforms the ordinary into something extraordinary. During our conversation, we discussed her creative process, inspirations, and methodologies as she navigates the intersection of commerce and art with remarkable finesse.

How long have you been a photographer?

I have been photographing since a very early age. I bought my first camera when I was around 14 years old. On a professional level, it’s been about ten years now.

How did you get started with photography?

I grew up in a tiny village with little to do. I began by photographing flowers in the garden and then moved on to photographing my best friend in the dresses she was making. When I attended the Art Academy in Rotterdam at 19, I started to take photography more seriously and really dived into it.

Who/what are you inspired by?

I am inspired by many things; I have an obsession with the avant-garde, the space age, geometric shapes, glass art, architecture, books, the interplay of light, colors, cinema, culture, and more. I love the work of Lauren Greenfield, Pierre Cardin, Yasuhiro Wakabayashi, Alejandro Jodorowsky, among many others.

How would you describe your work?

My work is very intuitive. It reflects the state of mind I’m in at the time of creation. Overall, it has a theatrical and eccentric nature, rich with colors and storylines. There’s a returning theme of transforming subjects.

Tell us about a unique photo of yours and how you created the creative concept for it.

Six years ago, I walked around Kyoto. It was evening, and suddenly, a taxi stopped with those lace curtains they always have. I see a white face behind the curtains, and suddenly, the door opens, and a geisha runs away quickly to her destination. It was such a special moment and the very first time I saw a geisha in real life. It went so fast that it felt like a dream. All these years later, I recreated the ‘dream’ from how it was in my mind.

How do you balance your unique, creative approach when you do more commercial projects?

I like to be closely involved with commercial projects. I try to push the conventions, making the projects reflect more of “me.” In the end, it’s all about balancing brand identity and my own style.

What is essential when you are on a photoshoot?

Music! Good vibes are everything. And preparation!

How does Capture One come into your workflow?

It’s [Capture One] such a helpful program to organize your day and structure your work. It’s an important software to play around with light and see instant results.

See more of Carlijn’s work on her Instagram and website. 


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Unmasking the stigma of autism spectrum disorder

We recently attended the postgraduate photography show at LCC to present our RAW Talent Award to three creatives. During the event, we met Benjimen Green and presented him with one of the awards. His photography mainly focuses on people, telling stories that are often overlooked. He believes everyone has a unique story to tell, even if it is not the most prominent one in the room.

With his project, he shared his personal story of being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Benjimen’s portrayal of masks in his images aims to break mainstream autism stereotypes and encourages individuals to embrace their unique identities without fear or shame.

How did you first get into photography?

In my early years, I stumbled upon my dad’s hidden film camera, which I wasn’t supposed to play with. Spending hours absorbed in its dials and buttons, I found it the coolest thing. However, my serious plunge into photography only happened later. In 2018, I purchased a small Fujifilm camera before relocating to Southeast Asia for work. Initially, it was about capturing moments, but after teaching during the day, I began venturing on evening photo walks, sometimes late into the night. This turned into a fever for documentary photography— and a means to unwind and connect with people. Sharing these pictures with friends back home on Instagram led me to pursue self-guided assignments, which became my outlet for storytelling and ignited my passion for photography.  

What type of photography do you like to shoot the most?   

I am particularly drawn to portraiture as it enables me to connect with people uniquely. The dynamic interaction between the subject and the photographer goes beyond merely capturing an image; portraiture involves a fascinating psychological dimension. Additionally, I have a keen interest in fine art documentary photography. The energy of capturing genuine moments and the inherent randomness of everyday life excites me. It presents an opportunity to organize chaos and immortalize moments that will never happen again.  

Congratulations on your project. How did you come up with the idea for it?   

Thank you for your congratulations! The inspiration for this project stemmed from my personal experience of receiving a late diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I felt compelled to address this topic freshly and innovatively, aiming to disrupt the false stereotypes prevalent in mainstream culture. Unfortunately, autistic individuals are frequently stigmatised, pushing them to the margins of society. This societal marginalisation often results in health challenges as individuals attempt to mask their authentic selves, striving to assimilate and conform to societal expectations.  

What did you enjoy the most when working on the project?   

I derived immense satisfaction from employing lateral thinking to address complex issues, especially exploring challenging subjects like autism. Contributing something valuable to the conversation was the most gratifying aspect, aiming to assist people confronting similar struggles by sharing a relatable story. Additionally, the experience of traveling through South America during the project added a unique dimension. The most challenging part involved using myself as the subject for the self-portraits. As a very reserved person, presenting myself in such a public manner was daunting. Nevertheless, it aligned with my objective of inspiring neurodiverse people to be bold and open about their conditions, symbolising the act of public unmasking. 

Can you share your experience of capturing these photos?  

Documenting my journey through South America from a deeply personal perspective was a profound experience with challenges and rewarding moments. Despite facing adversity, such as falling seriously ill with yellow fever in the Amazon and facing a life-threatening situation, I discovered that some of my most compelling photographs emerged during these difficult times. The vulnerability I felt added an unexpected, deeper layer to the project. There were also some amusing moments, like when I visited the pyramids in Mexico. While capturing images of myself holding masks in front of my face, the cultural history of masks in Mexico drew the curiosity of onlookers. A crowd gathered, fascinated by my creative process, and many took pictures of me. Some even approached me who were curious about my work. This created a few interesting conversations.  

How did you develop this approach of using satirical humour in your images?  

The self-portraits created for Masquerade actively confront the misrepresentation of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in mainstream culture. Drawing inspiration from the situationist writer Guy Debord’s “Society of the Spectacle,” where strategies like humour and détournement are discussed for disrupting harmful social constructs, my approach aimed to challenge prevailing norms. Researching existing portrayals of neurodiverse communities highlighted inaccuracies and often disheartening depictions, fostering a negative image. Many narratives portray individuals with ASD as odd or as victims, overlooking their significant contributions in different fields such as science, art, math, and technology. By incorporating humour, I intended to maintain a light tone, engaging audiences while subverting misrepresentations.  

How would you describe your photographic voice?  

My curiosity about people has always been my driving force, leading me to discover my photographic voice. This inquisitiveness centers around uncovering the concealed stories of individuals often overlooked and hidden in less frequented corners of society. Despite being deemed uninteresting by mainstream media, everyone possesses a unique story, valuable even if spoken quietly. I am dedicated to bringing these human experiences to light through photography, shedding insight onto these compelling yet underestimated stories.  

Can you tell us about a unique moment that shaped your style or approach?  

A pivotal moment in shaping my artistic approach occurred while reading Susan Sontag’s work, particularly “Regarding the Pain of Others.” Sontag illuminated the dual nature of photography, akin to speech, capable of both positive and negative impacts. Her perspectives underscored the responsibility photographers bear in shaping narratives. In today’s image-saturated era, it’s crucial to consider our contribution thoughtfully. This realisation has significantly influenced my conscientious approach and given me a greater awareness of the narratives I choose to perpetuate. I approach each idea flexibly in terms of aesthetic style, allowing its nature to dictate the appropriate visual language. I am not rigid about a specific style, as I believe in tailoring the aesthetics to suit the unique demands of each project.  

How did the education at LCC impact and help your journey as a photographer?  

The education at LCC profoundly impacted me because I was surrounded by a network of talented peers and knowledgeable teachers. I gained fresh perspectives that enhanced my approach to photography. This environment nurtured my confidence, allowing me to express my ideas through my work. The support from LCC empowered me to contribute to the broader conversation, helping me better understand where I fit into this dialogue. Additionally, my teachers instilled in me a deep contextual understanding of ethics, which will elevate my practice to a new level in the future.

What are some of the photographers you look up to?  

There are so many, but some that spring to mind are Mary Ellen Mark, Paul Graham, Robert Adams, Alec Soth, and my mentors Christopher Matthews, Edmund Clark, and Max Houghton, who have all carefully guided my development as a photographer over the past few years.

What are your plans for the near future?  

My MA was an intense experience that was hard to process in such a short time. I want to take a moment to breathe and think about everything I have just learned. Photography-wise, I plan to work on something light and fun, where I can enjoy making pictures again. So, I’m heading to Indonesia in the coming months for a holiday and some travel documentary photography.

What do you wish someone told you when you decided on your career? 

Be confident! I wish someone had told me early on that, as a sensitive person with a history of trauma, it’s okay to speak up and share my unique perspective. Permitting myself to be heard was crucial in finding the confidence to contribute to the photography conversation. Not everyone seeks the spotlight, but reserved individuals often have valuable insights. Realising this can be challenging, and building confidence takes time, so be patient with yourself. Although my photography work may not resonate with everyone, there is a group for whom it matters. Navigating a creative career is undeniably challenging, but expressing something meaningful brings unparalleled fulfillment.

See more of Benjimen’s work on his Instagram.


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An intimate portrait of my grandmother

Recently, we had the chance to join the photography postgraduate show at the London College of Communication (LCC). On the hunt to award three creatives with our RAW Talent Award, we were blown away by An Liu, whose project was inspired by her grandma’s life experiences at 87 years old.

We got the chance to talk more with An – like how she approached capturing intimate moments of her elderly family members, developing her dreamy storytelling style, to how LCC helped her grow as a photographer and combine empathy with artistry.

How did you first get into photography? 

Because I majored in computer science during my undergraduate studies, I didn’t have formal and systematic training in photography before coming to LCC. Aside from using a camera to document life during my teenage years, my first proper encounter with photography was during a university student union event. I needed to capture a series of photos showcasing the daily work life of an award-winning teacher. Since then, I have fallen in love with the storytelling aspect of photography. 

What type of photography do you like to shoot the most?  

Before coming to LCC to study photography, I worked as a commercial photographer for four years. However, after my studies at LCC, my interests expanded beyond commercial photography to documentary and fine art photography.

Congratulations on your project. How did you come up with the idea for it?  

My project originated from real stories involving my 87-year-old grandmother, who collected toy gun bullets left by neighborhood children due to loneliness, isolation, boredom, and having nothing to occupy her life. This incident served as the catalyst for the project, driven by my deep understanding and empathy for the situations my elderly relatives faced. 

What did you enjoy the most when working on the project?

I thoroughly enjoyed the extended period spent with my elderly relatives during the shooting process. Spending a month with my grandparent’s great-aunt and delving into their lives increased my understanding and revealed the charming aspects of their personalities that went unnoticed.

You captured elderly relatives and their daily challenges in an almost dreamlike way. How did you develop this approach?

I unconsciously achieved this effect. Living closely with elderly relatives made me realize that their lives, compared to younger people, are inherently closer to a dream. Their lives blur time and memories, lacking young people’s precise boundaries and plans. My initial vision for the project was to create a dreamlike world for my elderly relatives – dressing them up and engaging in childhood games aimed to construct a vibrant, candy-colored dreamscape in contrast to their real lives.

The photos in your project feel very intimate and authentic. How did you work with your subjects?  

This intimacy stems from my genuine and close relationship with my elderly relatives. Before deciding to shoot this project, I would routinely do handicrafts with my grandmother or go to the market to buy groceries. These long-term, genuine relationships maybe unconsciously manifested in the final work. I didn’t inform them of any specific plans or actions related to the shoot. Still, I suggested activities like playing games or dressing up. By being on the same wavelength as my subjects, I earned their trust, allowing them to relax and present their authentic selves. 

How would you describe your photographic voice?  

Viewers often mention sensing warmth and softness in my work, even when exploring heavy topics. This quality comes from my perceptiveness and empathy. My approach makes me reluctant to explore subjects in a very conflicting or confrontational manner. Instead, I prefer to express and heal through a more soothing approach. This subconscious protection of the subjects I photograph contributes to my work’s unique warmth and softness.

Can you describe a unique moment that shaped your style or approach?  

I attribute much of my perspective to my tutor, Kalpesh Lathigra. He emphasized the importance of not just thinking about securing jobs in magazines or with brands but understanding what is in people’s minds and establishing one’s authority. This insight prompted me to explore beyond commercial photography. 

How did the education at LCC impact and help your journey as a photographer?  

LCC provided more assistance than I initially expected. Beyond thorough academic lectures and practical workshops, I appreciated the industry visits that broadened our perspectives. The dedicated and enthusiastic tutors in the program provided valuable feedback on my projects. They offered clear guidance for my photography career. Their vitality and passion for photography and education infected and inspired me, giving me the confidence to pursue photography. 

What role does our software play in your workflow?  

I first encountered Capture One in 2019 during an indoor shoot, and it has become an indispensable tool for me since then. It efficiently provides feedback and rich details during shoots, facilitating the organized post-production of images. The recent introduction of a mobile version for iPad suggests that Capture One will continue to be a crucial part of my workflow in outdoor shoots.

What are some of the photographers you look up to?  

I admire Larry Sultan for his well-balanced approach between staged and documentary photography, creating a magical experience that lingers in the viewer’s mind. Additionally, with its combination of empathy towards subjects and a sense of grand solitude, Chris Killip’s work resonates deeply with me. 

Now that you’ve just graduated, what are your plans for the near future?  

I aim to maintain a balance between commercial and personal work. Commercial projects will allow me to pursue personal endeavors like my final major project. I also intend to share my projects with a broader audience through competitions and open calls for exhibitions. 

What do you wish someone had told you when you decided on your career?  

I wish someone had shared the most challenging aspects of persevering in this profession. Overcoming these challenges would have provided me with the endurance needed for a long-lasting career in photography.

See more of An Liu’s work on her Instagram.


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