February 9, 2021

My photography journey

Where to begin with this blog... I thought its would only be fitting to introduce myself, my practice and my story. Hi, my name is Jemma Elise Naylor, I am 21 years old at the time of writing this blog and I want to be a photographer. Ive been introducing myself like that for as long as I can remember now.

Looking back over the years I think I was always going to end up where I am now, studying a BA(hons) degree at the University of Huddersfield studying photography. I will be graduating this year!!

My mum says I've always had a camera in hand from being very young, over the years progressing from my toy cameras to the DSLRs I shoot with today. I unintentionally started my photography career all the way back in in 2010 at the grand old age of 11 when I picked up my dads camera at my neighbours wedding shooting basically everything that I saw.

Funnily enough the couple hadn't hired a photographer for the event so after finding out I maxed out the space on my dads SD card with images of them dancing they were over the moon to have some printed. I sold my first photographs that day and made a whopping £10 which I instantly spent on sweets or something stupid like that.

I started to like this whole taking photos thing and took my dads camera everywhere after that, never really thinking about what it was I was shooting, just really making memories at that point. Like when I took my camera in on the last day of primary school before moving up to high school. The teachers printed some of those to go in reception area for the other students to see!

Before long I started forcing my friends and family members to take part in little photoshoots that I would set up in my front room using my curtain as a backdrop and the reading lamps around the house as a lighting set up. Was it against their will ? potentially, but they always had "cool"photos to post on Facebook afterwards!! It always made me happy logging onto facebook and seeing that all my friends profile pictures where taken by me and I began to gain popularity in school eventually with all the 'popular kids' wanting their photos taken by me!! (After looking back not quite sure why but it was fun at the time in my 15 minutes of fame)

I think it is important to mention I have taken part in sport my whole life which was another huge passion of mine growing up as well as photography. Going to the competition I would always admire the event photographers who would take pictures of the athletes whilst they were competing. I ended up bringing my camera along to the next event and starting taking pictures as they would which they found 'cute' seeing I was shooting with a compact camera and didn't really have a clue what I was doing !! My images on a whole weren't actually that bad but I they taught me everything I needed to know about sports photography as a beginner which really just grew my love for photograph even more!!

As my birthday was coming up, I begged and begged my mum for a DSLR because I knew thats what the 'professionals' shot with which she reluctantly gave in and got me.

From this moment on, I vowed to take my photography was more seriously because I had a "professional"camera now!! It was a pretty nifty first camera and I am still very loyal to the brand but it was nothing compared to the A7 iii I shoot with today :)

This was also the time that I started studying photography as a subject for my GCSE. I learnt a lot during these two years including theres more to a camera than just sticking it in sports mode and hoping for the best!! As my knowledge grew my image quality started to improve with the clubs that I competed for hiring me as their personal photographer for events and competitions.

I really thought sports photography was what I wanted to do professionally but by the time I moved to college I got to experimented with multiple genres of photography which I had never thought to try before which opened so many more doors for me. I experimented with architecture and street photography as well as experimenting with light and long exposure which was fun but never really stuck as something I wanted to continue with growing in my career.

I soon enough discovered Pinterest where I was introduced into the wonderful world of fashion photography and portraiture where I absolutely fell in love with photographers such as Brandon Woelfel and Jessica Kobeissi who still massively influence my work to this day! I went into this project like a bull in a china shop with not much research on what to do on a fashion shoot. My sister bless her must have been absolutely sick of me because at this point she was being used as my guinne pig as I was too scared to work with models and agencies (I still am to an extent but its all a learning curve and I'm still gaining confidence in myself as a photographer). The photographer I was taking inspiration from used a lot of fairy lights in his work so I tried to do the same thing throughout my images.

I didn't want to give up on my love for sports photography entirely so along the way found ways to still work with that genre of photography. I found that brands over social media would love when I posted sports photography using their apparel so eventually found myself becoming a sort of influencer for sportswear brands but this time more in the style that I shoot in today.

This leads me to where I am today, I started studying at the University of Huddersfield in 2018 and am currently working on my final major project. Over the three years I have been at the uni I have learnt so much more not only. from my lecturers and guest speakers but my friends who are all individually going to grow to be incredible photographers !

I am studying fashion photography for this project and have absolutely loved hearing from guest speakers such as Silvana Trevale and Nicole Jopek.

I am still not yet where I want to be but I am still so passionate to learn and develop as a photographer and hope to one day be the very best I can be just like the photographers who inspire me.