Interview: Jamie Nelson, Fashion & Beauty Photographer
by Daniel Haim
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Jamie Nelson has produced enough material to fill a good library. The fashion photographer is quite prolific, but quality is never sacrificed for the quantity of images Nelson provides. Whether it’s a tight close-up depicting raw emotion or an elaborately laid-out fashion shot showing off La Gran Via Shoes, Nelson manages to leave her mark on the photograph, thanks to her keen sense of aesthetics and creativity. And while Nelson now seems as though she was born to be behind a camera, her childhood circumstances indicate that Nelson could have easily missed her calling altogether.
Jamie grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which the photographer describes as “a quiet conservative town that was far from fashionable.” Indeed, the mid-western town is far from the runway scene, and as a result, Nelson found it to be less than supportive of creative expression. Still, Nelson managed to stumble onto photography as a hobby by taking pictures of her friends on their adventures climbing rocks or exploring sand dunes. The aspiring photographer knew, though, that Colorado Springs wasn’t the place for her to reach her dreams, so she moved on to photography school in search of a more supportive environment. Soon after graduating, she relocated to New York City.
And while Colorado Springs was unfashionable, New York City was imposing. However, Nelson took on the Big Apple with youthful optimism and zeal, and was going door to door with her portfolio just two weeks after graduation in order to establish herself.
The product of Colorado Springs has caught the attention of the globe, and her work can be seen in publications such as Glamour, Vanity Fair, Tatler, Lula, Oyster & Plastique. Nelson’s work was also deemed worthy of inclusion in a recent New Museum and Chandelier Creative exhibition, which is a remarkable compliment to say the least.
Nelson also has ambitious plans for the future, and hopes to spend more time in Paris and London (she currently works out of New York). As Nelson’s drive and love of art have taken her this far, there’s no doubt the photographer can reach whatever goals she sets for herself.
Daniel: Tell me about yourself (where did you grow up, what was it like growing up and where do you live now?
Jamie: I grew up in Colorado Spring, CO. It was a quiet conservative town that was far from fashionable and didn’t allow for a ton of creative expression. I loved taking pictures with my friends on our adventures- climbing on rocks and buildings and adventures to the sand dunes and mountains. I moved when I was 17 to pursue photography and now work out of New York.
Daniel: Was photography always something you’ve wanted to do? Has there always been that sort of feeling that photography is what you were meant to do?
Jamie: I took an art class in my Senior year of high school and fell in love.
Daniel: There seems to be a vintage theme in your shoots. who brings the creative idea to the table? Which one of the shoots has been your personal favorite and why?
Jamie: I don’t always try for a vintage theme. I guess my eye just isn’t attracted to modern trends quite as much so the imagery always tend to revert to classic compositions and aesthetics. I suppose in the end that’s what defines one’s style or eye. I feel like my newest shoot is always my favorite shoot, so it’s difficult to say. I am always trying to move forward and be critical of my older works, so it makes it difficult to have a favorite for too long.
Daniel: I’ve noticed you do a lot of shoots with red hair models – How do you choose a model for one of your awesome shoots?
Jamie: The red heads was just a recent spurt of inspiration. I think it might be awhile before I revisit that. Models are casted carefully and I gladly take in the crew’s opinions as well. For beauty especially, it is important to have the makeup artist be inspired by the model’s features as well.
Daniel: What is it that you like the most about shooting Fashion aside from other types of photography?
Jamie: I love watching the clothes, hair, and makeup transform the model into my vision of beauty and strength. If I could put a deer in a McQueen dress, I suppose I’d start shooting nature more.
Daniel: When did you know you finally am it as a professional?
Jamie: After I got through 4 years of photography school, I felt like I was prepared to start working professionally. With my portfolio in hand 2 weeks after graduation, I moved to New York and literally started knocking on doors.
Daniel: What is your opinion about photographers with agent/agency, do you think all photographers should have one?
Jamie: I think if the agency is good, then it is nice to have one. Often I think photographer’s are disappointed with their agents. It shouldn’t hold you back if you don’t have one.
Daniel: What are the major factors/most important things about having an agent/agency?
Jamie: Having an agent is like a marriage. It is important to stick with each other and be honest with each other. For me, I need an agent as excited as I am on projects and someone that I talk to almost daily if necessary.
Daniel: What’s on the horizon for Jamie Nelson?
Jamie: Lots of traveling and editorial, and more time in London and Paris.
Daniel: Could you share with us a good photography or fashion quote
Jamie: “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel