If you ever need any inspiration to get outdoors and travel, hit up Jessica Ward’s Instagram (@jesswardphoto). It’s filled with photos that will leave you in awe. When Jessica isn’t navigating her way around the world with her camera, she’s back in her hometown, taking incredible shots of iconic Newcastle landscapes captured from the best angles imaginable.
The 26-year-old photographer is currently in Ireland, but very kindly set aside some time to answer the questions I had for her.
When did you pick up photography?
I’ve been taking photos for as long as I can remember, but I’ve only started taking it seriously over these past few years.
How old were you when you got your first camera?
According to my dad, he gave me my first camera when I was a toddler.
What drew you to want to capture people and the world around you?
I have a terrible memory, so it started out as being a way for me not to forget things. Along with that, though, I want to capture what life is like for me and what the world currently looks like, for future generations.
Do you have any favourite photographers who inspire you/your work?
There are so many amazing photographers out there but Chris Burkard is definitely a big influence. He is living the dream by travelling the world, being in nature and capturing so many awesome photos.
You shoot landscapes, travel and music – what's your favourite thing to capture?
I love shooting music because of the high levels of energy attached to it, but travel photography is currently my favourite because, for me, it’s more than just the image; it’s the entire experience and memory of the situation.
How was New Zealand? Trekking mountains and capturing amazing photos – any highlights?
Right now, NZ is my favourite place and I would go back in a second. The nature and landscapes are insane and you can feel like the only person around in so many locations. Climbing Roys Peak for sunset and Queenstown Hill for sunrise, and going in a hot air balloon for a sunrise, are a few of my favourite things.
You're heading over to Europe – any locations in mind to shoot?
Yes, I just arrived in Ireland! I go to Iceland very soon, which is a dream location, so I can’t wait! Culturally and architecturally, Europe is very different to anything I have shot before, so it should be a great change.
What's a landscape you dream of one day capturing?
Capturing the northern lights in Iceland would have to currently be it – fingers crossed that it will come true!
Do you have a favourite piece of camera equipment?
I recently started using NiSi filters, which allow for long exposures. This has opened up a whole new way of shooting.
Any tips for photographers starting out – maybe something you wish you knew earlier?
It's hard work and extremely competitive, especially due to social media. Don’t compare yourself to others in the field, because everyone is on a different skill level and this can lead you to feel discouraged. Constructive criticism is great but not everyone will always like your work, so it’s important to remove emotions from an image. Take photos because you like to, nothing else.
And lastly, what's your favourite thing about Newcastle?
Being able to wake up each day and start my morning by walking around the beach and Anzac memorial. I’ve been to a lot of cities lately and no matter what some people say, Newcastle is an incredible place to live.
Check out Jessica on Instagram @jesswardphoto to see her amazing shots.