I met photographer Vanessa Jackman years ago when I was still an anonyblogger. We were on a bloggers’ press trip to Paris, along with Mademoiselle Robot, Claire Healy (now deputy editor at Dazed) and several others. Since those early blog days, Vanessa has established herself as a photographer whose gentle street style images and lush travel photography are pure Pinterest-bait. Her blog has stayed authentic and alongside her models off duty and beauty close-ups (Vanessa loves a hair shot), her travel writing and storytelling take you on a blissful virtual getaway.
We went on to do a few editorial shoots together and when it came to sourcing timeless street style pictures for my book, The New Garconne, I knew exactly who to go to. I asked Vanessa to give us some more insight into her world and her work by sharing some of her favourite shots and stories here…
Name: Vanessa Jackman
Occupation: Photographer in pursuit of quiet beauty and things that lift the heart and spirit
Current obsessions: Wildflowers, Janaki Larsen ceramics, Cire Trudon candles (Balmoral is wonderful for summer and Carmelite is sublime for damp, grey winter days), pale grey washed linen sheets, anything from Valentino and Miu Miu – season after season after season, houseplants (I need a botanical intervention, I have far too many), antique French oil portraits (instant relatives – they become cherished members of the family as soon as I bring them home).
Last thing I ate: A cheese toastie for my lunch today, but I would rather like another one now! The bread was Poilane and the cheese was Keen’s cheddar.
Choosing a selection of my favorite images is really hard. With so many of my photographs I have emotional attachments to the subject or the situation, so it makes the choice agonising. So the photographs I have selected may not be my best work, but they’re special to me.
Maddy (above), Pimlico, London. You’ll remember this shoot Navaz – I loved photographing our model Maddy despite the horrible weather! We shot this in late autumn/early winter and it poured with torrential rain all morning. It was so dark and dreary inside, the light was truly awful. Miraculously the weather cleared late in the afternoon and the most gorgeous golden light appeared for a brief period – which is when I shot this image of Maddy. I loved your styling here Navaz (Stella McCartney and Toga) it is quirky and so cool, and the look on Maddy’s face is brilliant. It was bitterly cold and she was probably hating on me for making her stand in it! A great shoot with a wonderful crew.
Levendis Estate, Ithaca, Greece. To most people this just looks like a photograph of some sunkissed grassy-bits and lovely blue sky and sea. But to me it represents one of the most magical week’s of my life; a week spent on the stunning Greek island of Ithaca. We stayed at the dreamy Levendis Estate, which is owned by the warmest, kindest Australian couple, Marilyn and Spero. Whenever I need to think of a ‘happy place’ this is where my mind turns. I took this image just after we had hiked along the edge of a cliff. I’m terrified of heights so I tried to keep as far from the edge as possible, and walked at the side of the grassy path instead. But halfway along the path I discovered there were loads of big spiders in the undergrowth. I don’t know which scared me more, the prospect of the deadly cliff edge or the spiders!
La Borde Maison d’hotes, Burgundy, France. I am driven and search for beauty when I photograph; whether it be a beautiful model, a grove of ancient olive trees, an elderly face with many wrinkles, a meadow filled with wildflowers or a falling-down house covered in ivy. So when I’m blessed with an amazing location to photograph, I am at my happiest. La Borde, a small boutique hotel, is in an idyllic pocket of Burgundy and the owners, Marieke and Rik, have created the most elegant, exquisite retreat. Everything, from the gardens (complete with wildflower meadow) to the furnishings to the food is chocolate-box perfection. Even the chicken coop is stunning! The weather was wet and cold – despite it being July – but we still had the most fabulous stay, and it was so inspiring to shoot here.
Alice, Camberwell, London. Gorgeous Alice. An image from another favourite shoot of mine with styling by one of the most crazy-talented, amazing people I know, Verity Pemberton. We had a great location for this shoot (a private flat in Camberwell with plants and lovely mid-century modern furniture) but the weather was, once again conspiring against me and the light inside was flat and dull. However Alice was such a delight to shoot – so genuinely smiley and happy – that the lack of light didn’t matter at all. She truly made each image come alive. This image has a very 70’s feel which I love – the kaftan dress is vintage Zandra Rhodes.
Hanne, Paris, France. A street style image of Belgian model Hanne Gaby Odiele. This photograph of Hanne was taken straight after Marc Jacobs’ final show for Louis Vuitton in October 2013 – a bittersweet, emotional moment in the fashion world. I love the calamine pink walls; the way Hanne has her face tilted towards the early morning sun, the shadow, and her strong brows from the show….
Claudia, Hammersmith, London. Another shoot that you and I collaborated on Navaz! This one combined a number of my loves: loads of beautiful clothes from MiH Jeans to play with, a stunning model, sleek location (the MiH Jeans studios in Hammersmith) and glowy natural make-up and hair by my favorite make-up artist Jessica Mejia. I love this shot of Claudia. I usually use natural light only but dabble in flash now and again when it feels right (or when the weather is dreadful as it was on this afternoon – what is it with me and rain?!). I kind of feel that this outfit, a men’s sweater from Jean Machine combined with a vaguely sexy skirt, would fit right into ‘The New Garconne’!
Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado, USA. Staying at Vista Verde Ranch was pretty much like living in a winter wonderland postcard. Utterly magical – so much pristine beauty – and just a joy to photograph. This was on the last day of our stay and was the first morning it had stopped snowing heavily. As I came down the steps of our chalet to walk to breakfast, I was greeted by this calm, serene scene with the most beautiful, soft light.
To see more of Vanessa’s work, check out her website here.
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla and Vanessa Jackman
IMAGES: Vanessa Jackman
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