PLAID SPRING/SUMMER 2012 PHOTOGRAPHER SHARES HER VISION
Story by Matt R. Loney
With a commitment to clean, crisp images that speak back to photographic masters such as Steven Meisel and Mario Testino, Toronto-based photographer Jaclyn Locke has proven with her stunning portfolio that, in the words of Matt Hardy, “seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”
Locke’s photographs achieve the kind of effortless, Hepburn-esque elegance that fuses the beauty of the model with the inner voice of the garment. The results are images that feel as though they’ve been pulled out of our collective imagination; a timelessness that is the foundation of the great paradox – enduring fashion.
You’ve been interviewed by Plaid before (June, 2010) so I want to skip the basics and get into the meat of your work. You engage with a kind of sparseness that verges on minimalism in many of your photographs. Where does that stem from?
I have always been a bit of a collector…or a pack rat, if you will. So I think my work is a place where I like to keep things clean and simple. I am drawn to textures and details rather than elaborate sets.
When there’s very little set or background to contend with, your technical skills are front and centre. We are able to see your approach to the subject more nakedly. Do you see your photographs as being portraits of yourself in anyway?
I don’t intentionally try to display myself personally in my photographs, but I think when you create something with your own energy it will always reflect who you are. It definitely feels like a great achievement when someone recognizes a photo mine. Developing a strong personal style is something I strived for at the beginning of my career, so it is nice to see it working out.
This brings me to the second thread I see running through your work – that of the human’s relationship with nature. Do you see humanity as living in harmony with nature, as your photographs suggest, or is this a fantasy – more the way you’d envision this relationship, a kind of ideal?
My favorite photos are usually the natural moments that happen in between posing. Interesting body movements, funny expressions and a subject’s interaction with me during the shoot, rather than their relationship with nature. When shooting outdoors, I think the tie between subject and nature has a lot to do with the styling. It can create a beautiful bond or juxtaposition.
There’s an ease to the way your work presents the garments – perhaps that has to do in part with your choice of stylist – but you seem to enjoy shooting relaxed looks – fashion that doesn’t try too hard. Does that ease reflect the times we live in? The state of fashion in a world awakened to, even suspicious of, artifice?
Thank you. I just want to present the clothing up front and centre for the designer/client/audience and creatively I want it to tell a story that makes sense – representing a collection the way it is supposed to be seen.
Are you concerned at all with trends in styling or photographic technique or do you think it’s important for a fashion photographer to have a completely original voice, so to speak?
Sure, originality is key, but I do know that photographic style has been borrowed and recycled for years and years. I know that I receive inspiration daily from looking at photographs old and new, so naturally it influences me.
How does your approach change when you’re shooting menswear?
I think I approach shooting men the same as I do women…but I have been told that my men’s shoots have a romantic quality. That, I am happy with.
What do you look for in a great model?
To me a great model is someone with a lot of grace, personality and confidence. The strongest models are great actors, and have the ability to adapt to the character of the story. Or, if it is a shoot based on the model, they are able to let down their guard and not hold back any emotion.
Who are your mentors and influences? What have you learned from them?
My mentor, he started out as a someone I assisted and has become a good friend and someone who has given me feedback and support over the last few years. The very talented Mackenzie Duncan, a Canadian fashion photographer.
My influences: love, friendship, beautiful clothing (old and new), traveling, music, pretty much everything influences my work. I feel inspired a lot by the people in my life who are creative themselves. It pushes me to be better.
What does Canadian fashion bring to the table that you’re not seeing from anywhere else?
A sense of community. I will say that young artists are supported here. We have a very strong community of people, whether you are a fashion designer, photographer, graphic designer, stylist, makeup artist, blogger, shop owner. Toronto provides a fantastic collective of people who support each others’ small freelance careers.