The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Jessamine Barnieh
Photographer: Jessamine Barnieh
Tell us about your style of photography. How did you develop this style and what do you enjoy shooting the most?
I’m not sure how I would describe my style, I personally don’t think I have one, although someone once told me my photos have a quiet quality to them; maybe that’s my style? I like to take photos of life around me. Sometimes it’s people and places that catch my eye, colors and architecture, or scenes I want to remember.
Photography is all about capturing that moment. What’s the secret?
Be observant and try and be aware of what’s happening around you, not just in front of you. Plus, always have a camera with you, then you are always ready to capture the "moment" – whatever that may be to you.
Where are you based? What makes home a good base for you?
I’m a born-and-raised Londoner living in Hong Kong. Home to me is more of a feeling/connection to a place, than a specific location. London will always feel like home, Philippines feels like home because that’s where my parents are from, and Hong Kong is my current home because this is where my husband and I have chosen to live. Hong Kong is great as a base for exploring Asia and also really convenient to travel further afield thanks to it being an international hub.
Tell us about your gear, what camera do you use? What lenses do you prefer? Post-editing?
As well as my iPhone, I currently use a Fuji XT2 and have two lenses - a 35mm F1.4 and a 56mm F1.2. Before this, I used a Sony RX100 MIII which I love for its quality and portability. Moving from a compact fixed lens camera to an interchangeable lens system has been a fun learning curve. The sweaty palms of trying to change lenses without dropping one have now subsided. To edit I mainly use VSCO, Snapseed, and am slowly getting to grips with Lightroom.
How did you get into photography? Tell us about your first experience.
My Dad was the "Uncle" in the family that had all the latest gadgets. He had a Canon AE-1, umbrellas, lights, the full set-up. He became the unofficial family photographer for parties and passport photos. What made me get into photography was the power of documentation and the preservation of memories. My Dad documented the first year of my life and now I have a video and corresponding photo album to look back on. I treasure these photos and memories. As a result, I like to document things through photos, from travel adventures to everyday life. When I moved to Hong Kong, I did a Project 365 #jess_a_day, where I took a photo every day for the first year. Now I can look back at any day from that year and know what I was doing or where I went and trigger memories that I may have otherwise forgotten. I don’t remember the first camera I ever used, but the first camera I remember saving up for and buying for myself was the Konica Revio Z3 APS. It was my pride and joy at the time.
"Challenge yourself. There’s no finish line to creativity, so keep learning and experimenting."
Tell us the story behind one of the most memorable photos you’ve shot…
This is a tough question to answer. There are so many reasons why a photo is memorable to me. Some photos are memorable because of the experience, like waking up at 3 a.m. for sunrise at Borobudur Temple in Indonesia, being inches away from a moving train at Maeklong Railway Market in Thailand, or climbing thousands of steps to witness the mountains of Zhangjiajie. While others are memorable because of the subject in the photo, like meeting someone I admire such as Annie Leibowitz or Takashi Murakami.
What is a constant source of inspiration for you as a photographer?
Everything. Whether I am scrolling through Instagram, watching TV, or just walking around, there is always something that will spark an idea.
Who has been a great influence or mentor to you and what did you learn from them that you still carry with you today?
I feel very lucky that I am surrounded by a lot of creative people whose talent and passion inspire me and are generous enough to share their knowledge. As cheesy as this sounds, my husband, Edward (@edwardkb) has been a great influence on me. He’s always full of wise words and encourages me to do more with my creative pursuits. Watching his dedication to improving his own photography and seeing the progression in his work not only makes me proud, but shows what you can achieve with a little discipline and lot of passion.
Can you give us three photography tips and explain each?
1) Take pictures that you like, not for ‘likes’. Photography is very subjective and not everyone will like what you like or do, so you might as well stay true to your own vision.
2) Challenge yourself. There’s no finish line to creativity, so keep learning and experimenting.
3) Have fun. Pretty self-explanatory. Enjoy the process of taking photos.
Finish the sentence ...
If I weren’t afraid I would… swim in the ocean.
I wouldn't be where I am today if... I didn’t try new things.
I've been listening to... movie soundtracks – my go-to genre of music when working; otherwise, whatever Spotify suggests.
Kids these days... are very tech savvy and have the potential to do great things.
I look and feel my best when... I’ve had a good nights sleep.
When no one is looking I... try and take a photo of them.
Traveling... is a privilege that should not be taken for granted.
I respect... those who make a positive difference in the lives of others.
I would recommend interviewing... my friend Holly, @h_cato.
If I were to ask him/her a photography related question, I would want to know... What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you first started photography?
Holly’s answer: Not everyone will be happy for you... and I didn't realize how independent and isolating that can be. People don't really understand what I do and how I make a living. And those in my
field aren't always happy about the opportunities that I get. I wish I had foresight about that sometimes. But regardless, I'm just so very very grateful that I get to do what I love.