HOW OFTEN DO YOU LET THE UNIVERSE SPEAK TO YOU? LAST MONTH WE FEATURED PINEAPPLE FITNESS, AND WHEN THEY SENT THROUGH SOME PHOTOS, THEY SUGGESTED JESSICA ROSS FOR A FEATURE HIGHLIGHTING HOW BRILLIANT HER WORK WAS, AS ALL THE PHOTOS SUPPLIED WERE FROM THIS AMAZING WOMAN. AS IT TURNED OUT, I NEEDED SOMEONE TO FOCUS ON FOR JUNE, AND THIS SEEMED PRETTY FITTING.
Catching up one morning at Whitebridge’s Pegs Café between juggling child drop-off and collection, I sat down for a coffee and a chat with Jessica Ross about her photography craft – and, as it turned out, a little bit about moving to Newcastle, discovering the city as a new resident and with a new family. Let’s make sure she feels welcome in our city.
Jess, tell me a little bit about yourself.
Do you just want to know everything? Like, work-related or...?
Yeah, everything – whatever inspires, excites you, makes you who you are.
Okay, sorry, I've never done this before. I'm a bit nervous.
There are no wrong answers!
I’m a wife, I have two kids, I live in Newcastle. We've been here nearly three years. We came from the Northern Beaches in Sydney. So, loving it here.
Why did you come here?
Just wanted a bit of a change. Sydney was getting a bit crazy. We had friends who moved here and we came to visit and just thought, ‘Oh, that's a cool place.’ And we kind of thought about getting out of [Sydney] for a while.
Photography-wise, you had a studio for twelve years and you've been here for three. So, you've been doing it for at least fifteen years – or more than that?
Yeah, more than that. Probably eighteen, I think, around about seventeen or eighteen. When I first started [photography], I first started working in a studio.
And was there a catalyst for that?
Yeah, my dad was a wedding photographer and I used to play around with all his cameras. I think he liked that I had that interest, because then he'd give me his cameras and show me how to do it. Yeah, I just loved it straight away. I did that at school, through art and photography, I was heading in that creative kind of way. And then I left school and got a job with a photographer, and the rest is history. So yeah, I studied photography while I worked for him and just kind of stuck to it. I love it.
It was always the pathway.
Is there anything else that's ever interested you like that?
I always kind of liked graphic design as well. I think at school I kind of wanted to do that, but I kind of like that layout – you know, laying out things – which I get to do with wedding albums and all that kind of stuff anyway, so I kind of get a bit of that as part of my...
Yeah. There hasn’t been anything else, really.
Do you feel like you have a specific style at this point?
Yeah. I think my style… I try to be kind of natural and candid. I like to kind of stay out of the way, out of the culture, and just capture certain moments that are happening. I've watched the changes in photography styles over the years, like film to digital – I’ve seen all that happen, so I'm probably a bit classic as well, I guess.
I guess with a wedding, for example, a photo of the wedding, I still try to get those nice… Oh, what's the word? Maybe traditional. Maybe those traditional kinds of things, and things that are important to people, like family. Trying to cater for all ages, I guess – parents, grandparents and couples.
Is it more like being able to capture the moment? Like, being able to see the little moments that happen between people?
Yeah, the moments. As opposed to setting up poses and stuff like that.
When you're not shooting, is family life pretty much what's left of available time?
Pretty much, yep.
And you're probably still discovering the area. Have you got any favourites?
Let me think. Yeah, we go a lot down to the foreshore or along the beach, bike riding… We do that quite a bit.
Is the beach pretty central to everyone's life?
Yep. I grew up on the beach. My dad owned a surf shop. All my brothers surfed. The beach was a big part of my life and the same with my husband. So it has always been…
Where you gravitate to.
Yeah. And so if Gav goes for a surf, we'll all go down and hang out on the beach. So yeah, we do go to the beach a lot.
Yeah, more so than anything else. I'm just trying to think what we've been exploring. Glenrock is really great. We're quite close to that. That's quite fun. We've had a few nice exploring days up there. Walking down to Burwood Beach – that's been good.
Have you got any big projects on at the moment?
No, I'm coming into my quiet time, probably. Winter's probably the quietest time of the year and then it gets busy again around September for the rest of the year. It's been super busy at the beginning since January to now. So lots of editing – I've just got editing coming out my ears.
Are there other photographers that influence you now, that you aspire to – or other creatives?
Yep, there's a photographer – Carla Coulson is her name. She's Australian. I don't know where she's from – in Australia somewhere. She packed up and moved to Italy… Just thought, ‘I'm not getting anywhere in…’ I think it was Sydney. And so she just headed over there with nothing, just kind of showed up, and I thought that was so cool. I've bought all her books and she's doing really well now. But her work is just really real. I love it because it's not perfect, it's more… She photographs people, lots of people, and she just really shows people. It's not like this perfectly set up model kind of stuff. It's just really cool and I really love her books. So I've always followed her and her style.
I think my dad definitely kind of got me started and taught me. I'm not really good at maths and numbers. That's my weak point, and he was really good at that. So he really taught me how a camera works, because it is quite… You have to know apertures and all that kind of stuff. I really remember that, because I was really bad at that kind of side. My creative side was probably a bit stronger than that part of me.
Facebook? Instagram? Website?
Probably my website. Instagram, yes, and Facebook. I have been told I'm not on it enough. I need to be posting a bit more. My website has lots of work to see.
Inspire your day by finding Jessica online at www.jessicaross.com.au or @jessicaross_photography on Instagram.
Know of an inspiring woman in Newcastle who deserves a little coverage? Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org