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Young award-winning photographer is ready to make her mark

Young award-winning photographer is ready to make her mark - Jenny Brough spoke to James Sharp about flowers, fashion and wanting to photograph Elvis.

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How did you first get into photography? Was it always your dream to be a photographer when you were younger?
No. I originally wanted to be a vet when I was younger. I started taking photographs at a wedding when I was four years old. I pinched my Dad’s camera and shot a whole roll of film of bums and knees - a four year olds view of the world. I really got hooked at 16 when I took up A Level photography - I managed to persuade my dad it was a good idea to build me my own darkroom.
A lot of your work is focused around fashion and flowers - what is it about these themes that appeals to you?
Flowers have a wonderful symmetry to them with an amazing range of line, shape and colour. You can truly capture nature’s beauty in flowers. I love flowers.
and what about fashion…
Fashion is much more exciting, it involves other people, who bring their own expertise and creativity with them, and gives me the opportunity to spark off them and try out the new and exciting ideas that come from that. I have found that a whole range of different effects can be produced from a single 'look’.
Where do you get your ideas and inspiration?
I get inspiration from all around me and from my own work. I study my own finished shots, which often generate a completely new idea from the one that created the original piece. I also work quite hard to keep up to date with what’s current and what the trends for the future are.
How much planning goes into a photo shoot?
I sometimes spend months planning a shoot, to be clear about the end product I’m trying to achieve. It’s not just the angles and lighting that I work on, I like to get involved with the make up, clothes, backdrops etc.
How much work do you do in the studio and how much is shot on location? Which do you prefer and why?
My work is studio based at present as this is the environment that I feel most comfortable in. Location shoots are something I plan to look into in the near future, as that will give me a whole new challenge to work on.
Is there anyone in particular whom you would love to photograph?
If I was able to I would have loved the chance to have photographed Elvis Presley and Jimmy Hendrix, but sadly I’m a bit late for either of them. Since I was a kid Michael Jackson has always been my music idol so I would love the opportunity to take his photograph and also other famous musicians, as music is my other passion.
How would you describe your photographic style? What sets your work apart from others?
Artistic. Helen Johnson, sales director of Prime Arts described them as art, in an article in Picture Business magazine (which just happened to have one of my photos as its cover picture). I believe it is the unique shapes and strong compositions that set my work out from other people’s.

As a young photographer how have you found breaking into an industry which is so competitive?
Very hard. I have felt like giving up a few times, but I’m hooked. I can’t imagine life without taking pictures, so it seems sensible to try to make a living at it as I fully enjoy what I do, come good times and bad.
Tell us a bit more about your award-winning work?
My bronze awards from the International Aperture Awards were for fashion and portrait work, one shot was in black and white, which without the distractions of colour, made a much stronger statement of the content, bringing out the emotion of the crying girl. My other photograph ‘Red Shoes’ came about by mistake originally. That’s what is so good about photography you can end up with the best shot from the day, after just doing one frame on the off chance.
How do you promote yourself?
Online, I have my own website, through competitions, a range of cards sold through local outlets, and I have a two week exhibition of my work in a Trowbridge gallery in Tunbridge Wells starting this week. Every week I come up with more ideas to try and get my name known, it’s just trying to find the time. Word by mouth is also a great way.
What equipment do you usually use – camera, lenses etc. Would you recommend them?
I’ve always used Minolta since school days, which produces good quality photographs for me and I would have recommended it, but it is no longer in production. I would now recommend either Canon or Nikon. I could not live without my graphics tablet either; it makes life so much easier.
Do you have a preference over digital and film cameras and why?
This is a hard question as I love the wide range of options you have available for digital photography but I much prefer the output quality film has. I don’t think digital has quite reached that standard yet. They should never have stopped producing Polaroids though. They were a favourite.
Who are your greatest photographic influences and why?
Mario Testino. I have a large collection of his books. Howard Schatz. I have quite a lot of his work too. Both of which use strong colours in their work and Testino knows how to capture moments whereas I find Schatz is able to produce work that is really strong with just his composition.
Have you had any of your photos published? If, so where?
In the first year of collage I managed to get my first picture published in the Countryfile calendar. Since then Prime Arts have published some of my work as cards and posters, and the cover image of Picture Business.
Are there any projects you currently working on?
Yes. I’m working on my exhibition prints for the end of the week. I’m also planning a “pin-up girl” photo shoot to create a series of photographs similar to the ‘red shoes’ picture and I’m constantly researching for further projects for the spring.
What do you think the future for you is photography wise? Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years time?
I’d like to have my own studio, doing major fashion shoots and music portraiture.
What advice would you give to others who want to pursue a career in photography?
Don’t expect it to be easy. It’s a bit like a roller-coaster ride but if you’ve been bitten by the bug, go for it.

If you would like to view more of Jenny’s work up-close, she has a new exhibition starting this Saturday (21st Feb) at the Towbridge Gallery in Tumbridge Wells for two weeks only.

Visit Jenny Brough's site for more details.

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