We recently shared news of Fresh Film and Ray Brown Represents of NYC joining forces. The international production company, with offices in London, Prague, Bangkok and now New York, has combined with the respected photographers' agency to bring together their talented rosters.
Among their photographers and film directors are many that make the cross over between both disciplines. Here we showcase one such Artist.
Jenny Hands is long established as a photographer, but in more recent times she has bought her much admired style to directing. Her love of life and joyful attitude are so evident in everything she creates. Her sense of fun and strength are also clearly displayed. In fact we probably took up far too much of her time, but as anyone who has met her will understand Jenny is both captivating and thought provoking.
It was a pleasure to 'Sit Down With' Jenny and like her work, her words are equally engaging...
Tell us a bit about your journey to becoming photographer director
I’m a light loving, small town girl from a small town world who resisted reality and went seeking a different life. Growing up in Oxfordshire with The Face, watching Fred Astaire movies every Sunday on a black and white TV. My parents bought me a dark room kit and I spent most evenings processing and printing my film. I left photography college in the mid 90’s to find I couldn’t get an on set assisting position. Being a fairly short and slight girl, apparently meant I was the wrong size and gender so instead of going into production, I created a portfolio in my bedroom and got to work! My experience was varied doing any job I could get from still life to fashion. One thing led to another and here I am!
How does it differ being a director from working as a photographer? Do the two disciplines become one
I don’t view them as different disciplines. A photographer 1st, which taught me how to direct and communicate, it also taught me how to light. As a photographer you are the DOP and director.
I found it a very natural progression from single 1/60th of a second frame to the joy of more, just more... to continue the story, expand the character, adding context, be more precise with the message, creating a more complete picture... carrying the journey on further. Filling it with sound, filling it with music and filling it with words to enhance.
We notice that on occasion you shoot in black and white. How does it differ from working in colour?
Removing colour instantly transforms a message as we can be emotionally influenced by colour. Black and white cuts straight through to give you the emotion, there is no distraction of colour. It tells a different story and lets you see maybe what you wouldn’t. I am obsessed with black and white, it’s so beautiful, offering a different perspective.
Your work often feels joyful and is full of natural performances. How do you manage to draw out these responses on set?
Being on set is one of life’s great privileges. It’s like playing grown up dressing up I suppose! There is a very serious level of professionalism, however I try to remember that giving everyone involved a great day at work sets the tone for people wanting to give you their best. Inevitably we have fun and the joy you see is the connection I have with the subjects. Human beings are amazing, fascinating and I never tire of meeting them.
Do you feel that female artists face as many hurdles as they previously have within the creative industries?
I think it’s as difficult as ever to be in the creative industry, regardless if you are a man or a woman, film and photography at the top level is hard to break into.
I feel female artists need to support each other more often to bring about change. Women need to be more confident, secure in themselves and their talents and know deeply that their voice count’s and the world is interested in what they want to say!
All men (and women) who have the influence to book women can help to change this. Think about how great, interesting women can be and about what a woman role model looks like. Imagine as a child how it’s much more interesting reading adventure stories with someone you can relate to? Stop thinking about what you think women want and expand your imaginations to the possibilities of what women are. How do we do this, how does it look, how can we create this narrative.
Women who are allowed to be their true selves, not women who are expected to behave like men will find an appreciative audience for their talents.
Do you think being a mother has affected your work and how you approach it?
Without a doubt. I have 2 girls. It’s definitely changed me and my approach. I’m interested in the concept of true unaffected, unconditioned self that I can’t ignore my responsibility as a creator within the image making community to make sure there is reality and diversity. I always want life to feel beautiful and emotive in my work, humans should be human, wrinkles and all. Vanity has become an out of control epidemic.
Considering how your profession began. Do you actively encourage young women to work alongside you?
Yes. From Digital operators, camera operators, re-touchers, gaffers and producers. I’m looking for more talented and energetic people as lighting gaffers, photo assistants, editors and composers. If anyone’s reading & interested, get in touch!
How do you see your work developing in the future?
I don’t have a crystal ball. How my work develops depends on the world around us. Still or moving image, I do both, sometimes at the same time. I’m here if you need me.
For more information about Jenny and her availability please contact: