25-year-old Toronto-based Julie Riemersma lives to become a full time fashion photographer. Julie talks about her love for fashion, photography and the culmination of her two passions in ‘Pollock’.
So Julie, tell me - how did it all start?
I started using my first film camera when I was six or seven. I took pictures of ‘Sailor Moon’ on TV and of my grandmother drawing. I've always loved taking photos, but after a particularly stressful last year of high school I turned away from my expected path of a medical career to pursue being a fashion photographer. It practically happened on a whim. I decided not to live with any regrets and here I am!
And how have your pictures changed since you started studying photography?
I consider details much more now as I take a shot, especially the light. There is a lot more precision involved, but sometimes you still have to work with what’s available. When I get to a location and the light is difficult or low I still get to use my problem solving skills!
What is the most difficult part of being a photographer?
Probably the fact that you are your own boss. You have to be motivated, every day. You never have any real deadlines other than the ones you set yourself, so you have to be quite disciplined. In the long haul, it gets exhausting to continually try to get yourself out of bed, caffeinated and at the desk by 9am.
And the best part?
Shooting! All the pre- and postproduction nitty-gritties fade away when I have my camera in my hand. It’s a kind of high and it’s what I try to stay focused on. I also love collaging in Photoshop, and creating abstract and different art and fashion. Ideas for shoots tend to pop into my head randomly and are most of the time inspired by details in the everyday.
Tell me a bit about your portfolio. Is there a message in your pictures?
I try to capture beauty and, if I possibly can, also to capture a piece of my subject’s soul. I have a lot of images and concepts in my head and much of my upcoming work will be about getting what I imagine out of my head and on to film.
I’ve always loved fashion, since I first got my hands on my mother’s Vogue magazines. As someone who aspired to become a professional photographer, fashion seemed like the best way to combine commercial opportunity with the artistic expression I was seeking. When fine art and fashion meet, they create enduring and stunning images. That’s the vision.
I believe your fashion series ‘Pollock’ is a great expression of this vision! Can you tell me a little bit about it?
The name of the series is ‘Pollock’ since it was inspired by the American abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock. I was brought in by Lydia Chan who thought up the concept. She has an incredibly creative mind and is perfectionistic in the execution of her ideas. She did all of the styling and created much of the clothes and all of the headpieces – by hand! It was shot on a very stormy day in the driveway of a suburban home. We kept having to interrupt the shoot to bring all the equipment inside to avoid the intermittent showers. In terms of the artistic outcome, the postproduction work is really experimenting with the shots. I wanted to see how we could play around with blending modes on the shots I took of the plain driveway and background. My favourite part is the way in which unexpected details came across. For example, the way in which the greys contrasted with some of the fabric creates a quirky effect, which I really like. All shots can create unexpected originality and I like to capture as much of that as possible and that’s what I hope comes through in ‘Pollock’.
Sure! And finally, what would you say has the largest impact on your work?
Current events have a big impact on my work. To me, modern women are pushing back on a patriarchy that uses sexuality to sell. I think women are, and always have been, beautiful subjects for art and “sexy” should not be the main selling point. Women can be intelligent, eccentric, cute, badass or whatever they like and I try to incorporate that into my shots. I try to make it more about the specific subject and her unique style, and less about what is generally considered to be the unobtainable “perfect woman”. In the future I want to be able to incorporate even more abstract concepts and ideas. To me, photography is an important mode of expression and I will continue to highlight social issues in my works, creating awareness about the issues that are important to me to get across. That’s what matters most to me and what makes me love what I do.
Model: Saki Wani
Stylist: Lydia Chan
Photographer: Julie Riemersma
Makeup and hair: Christina Nguyen
Stylist Assistant: Jacqueline Chow