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Meet Jean Marie Biele

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jean Marie Biele.

Jean Marie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was always that one friend with the disposable camera growing up–every birthday party, field trip, sleepover, whatever. I was that girl that *had* to document each moment. I eventually upgraded to a point-and-shoot camera and when I was twenty, I took my first big trip to Europe. It was during that trip that I’d say the seed was planted; everything was so different from home that it felt like I was seeing with new eyes. I wanted to capture the world as I saw it even though I had no idea what I was doing. I came home from that trip and my mother bought me my first cropped sensor DSLR (which I used for ten years).

From there, I went out and shot. All. The. Time. I walked around on my days off and shot anything that caught my eye, but mostly, I photographed myself. I honestly learned quite a lot from setting up a tripod and using a remote to take my own portraits. I highly suggest all new photographers try it. It not only lets you experiment with camera settings, but it also shows you what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera which I think a lot of photographers oversee. I watched YouTube tutorials on how my camera worked (I still don’t know each feature) because I had to figure out what the hell ISO, shutter speed, and aperture meant. I also watched tons of videos on how to color grade and retouch, how lighting works, how to pose people, etc.

Over the next ten years, I worked as an administrative assistant (I graduated at the height of the recession with a useless liberal arts degree) and I did photography part-time. I photographed EVERYTHING; a lot of families, weddings, food, events, products, restaurants, foot races, food trucks, clothing, cars, fitness, headshots, babies eating cakes, babies smashing cakes, pro wrestling, dog shows, and more families.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found a mentor, and started learning to shoot with models. I realized I had an eye for composition and a knack for connecting with the models in a way that allowed me to truly evoke and capture emotion. I think that’s what I really fell in love with; the ability to capture a feeling. My entire life is and always has been based on feelings. Even if logic or facts are telling me one thing, it always gets overridden by how I feel, so it only makes sense that I fell into this medium. That and I was never really good at anything else!

In 2017, I packed it all up and took a chance on myself at the age of 29. I moved to LA from Florida and my family. I jumped headfirst into doing photography full-time and I haven’t stopped hustling since. I can honestly say I’ve never worked harder in my life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. In a way, it feels like my journey is only beginning, but I’m so happy to be able to live and create here in Los Angeles. It sounds cliché, but it’s been a dream come true for this Florida girl.

Has it been a smooth road?
The road has not been smooth at all! There were plenty of times I attempted to go full-time as a photographer and it just didn’t work out. I convinced myself that life as a successful creative person wasn’t in the cards for me. There were no examples of that as I was growing up, so I went to school, got a degree, and did jobs I absolutely hated. It finally took someone else in the industry 100% believing and investing in me for me to even begin to believe in myself. It’s still a conscious daily effort in changing how I think about my self-worth to continue to do this job and believe that I deserve it.

Also, creativity has no fixed formula. It ebbs and flows with moments of greatness in between. All artists struggle with this, but yet it’s a very personal battle. There’s a constant voice of self-doubt in my head saying how crap my work is. It’s always asking, “Is this good enough? What’s the point? Why are you even doing any of this?” But it’s those moments of greatness I mentioned that push me forward. The self-expression. The process. The fulfillment. The gratifying feeling of sharing the way I experience this world that’s unique to only me. It’s those moments that push me to grow and continue taking chances on myself as well as challenge how I experience the world.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
My creative work is focused mainly on fashion editorials, portraits, and lifestyle. One day, I would love to solely do creative portraits and editorials, but for now, I still shoot across the board. I’m available for brands, events, products, headshots, food, spaces/real estate, and pro-wrestling. Please hire me for pro-wrestling! That was such a fun gig with half-naked pretty people 😉

What am I proud of? I’m proud of (most) my work thus far, but I’m prouder of the connections I’ve been fortunate enough to have made through photography and the progress I’ve made as an artist and a person. But what sets me apart from others? I won’t BS you with some bit on storytelling or aesthetic. What sets me apart is simply how I see the world and how I interpret my connections with others. My perspective is intimate, it’s honest, it’s organic, it’s uncomplicated.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
It’s so hard to say with the emergence of Instagram having changed the game within this past decade. With that, I’m certain it will continue to be social media content-based which, to me, is taking the art out of photography. Content has such a high turnover rate and it requires quick photos that can often lack depth. We’re so oversaturated with “content” on every platform, it can be difficult to differentiate art from fluff. However, with the demand for more and more content, photographers definitely won’t run out of work. As always, with the bad comes the good; it’s just a matter of how to view it.

Also, cameras and technology will only continue to get better. Image quality is already so advanced, so much so that we’ve swung backward and edit our photos to look like film. The tools for photographers will only continue to progress, but there will be more for us to learn. It will be important for photographers to keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s new and be quick to adapt the latest technologies, trends, programs, editing, and retouching styles, etc. If we don’t, it’s getting easier and easier to be left behind and become irrelevant.

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