Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Jessica attends Vancouver Island University as an International Student. She came to the Island in 2016 to take the Graphic Design program at VIU, where she will finish her degree next year.
I met Jessica in February of 2017 when we both took a week-long trip with the University’s art department to New York City. Since then, we’ve become good friends and roommates, and I have had a chance to observe how Vancouver Island has shaped her style. A fashion photographer, she is drawn to minimalist settings for photo shoots, such as coffee shops, street corners with quaint buildings, and gardens. The simple backdrops, she says, “make my subject the focus.” Rich with such locales, the Island has provided her with artistic opportunities that would be more difficult to find elsewhere.
Jessica has struggled to find a community of fashion photographers here; most Island photographers, she says, would rather work with nature or animals. But she enjoys its peace and serenity. “The good thing about Vancouver Island is that it provides a lot of space and quietness to think,” she notes. “As an artist and a student, a lot goes through my head, but I find the beautiful scenery of the island to be calming.”
Practising photography in Lagos was much different, she says, in more ways than one might think. Many North American photographers don’t include ethnic context in their work, whereas often it’s the basis of artistic expression in Nigeria.
“Practising art and photography back home, there is a lot of cultural influence,” Jessica explains. “Each portrait is made to tell a story about the subject and the brand using historical and cultural elements, whereas here on the Island I’ve observed that the main focus is the expression of the subject itself.”
Fashion photography, however, is more commercial, and so more universal in its intentions and techniques. “There is a lot of room to be creative when working with fashion photography,” she notes, “but there needs to be an equal balance of art and marketing to stay true to the brand.”
Still, she always tries to stay true to herself. “With my photography, I like to add a little artistic twist to it. While most photographers like to make their work perfect and flawless to meet the beauty standards, I try to stay away from editing too much. I love to embrace my subjects’ flaws. I like to work with minimalism and warm tones. My photography is a true reflection of my artistic self.”