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Meet Jessie Mar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessie Mar.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan and am currently studying Photography and Imaging at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. I have always had a deep appreciation for different kinds of art and love to explore visual culture in museums and galleries. I first picked up a camera in high school while traveling with my family through Europe.

At that time, I knew nothing about photographic technique—aperture, shuttle speed, and ISO. The camera was just a tool to document what I saw, and I used it to connect with the world. As I explored photography, the camera became an outlet for me to express the art in my mind and reflect the world as I viewed it.

Currently, I am focusing on fashion and lifestyle photography. In my free time, I refresh with some street photography.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I started photography, I was uncertain about how I wanted to connect with the world and what I wanted my images to convey. I realized that photography not only expresses what is seen but also reflects the photographer’s voice and identity. Through this awakening process, I became more aware of my own roots, family, and culture. Most importantly, I became more aware of myself.

Part of my personality is shy and sensitive. A professor once told me, “Being shy doesn’t get you anywhere, but if you empower that and make it your weapon, then you are different.” Through my images, I get to see the details and beauty of the world; the people and culture. Photography brings me closer to the real and surreal worlds that I have never seen because I empower my weakness to become my strength.

As a student photographer, it is hard to gather a production team especially if you have a big photoshoot! In the fashion industry, you need a model, makeup artist, stylist, assistant, etc. I sent out countless emails to model agencies and makeup artists with little response. Even though this was discouraging, I found that if I searched hard enough, I could find people willing to collaborate to make beautiful work.

I met many professionals—interesting models and makeup artists—all of whom motivate and inspire me. These experiences have taught me to become fearless and just keep pursuing what I believe in my heart. Being a photographer isn’t easy. There have been many struggles and challenges while pursuing photography that often made me feel discouraged, but I believe that nobody can stop me if I really want it.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
My work is done either digitally or on film depending on the project. The digital camera is the essential tool used in my commercial work. It allows me to easily manipulate and cater the image to my visual idea. On the other hand, I love how film slows me down to take a closer look at every image I take. Moreover, film provides a unique quality of color and contrast on the image which is a constant surprise.

I’m interested in both editorial and lifestyle fashion. I love to observe and explore how people express themselves as who they are through their personalities, clothes, and facial expressions. There is so much to explore from a person from their physical and figurative form.

Most of my portraits have a dreamy and surreal quality. I want to create a “second gaze” in my images that encourage people to wonder what the image reminds them of or leads them to feel. I am constantly influenced by both Western and Eastern photographers and artists. Their art is so different in character and detail; all of which reflects their culture, time, and history.

How do you, personally, define success? What’s your criteria, the markers you’re looking out for, etc.?
Success to me means that I am able to turn failure into the driving force that pushes me to my goals.

I keep on challenging myself to find out the connection between the individual and the world at different periods of time and position. 

The first thing I do each morning is open the window and put my hands out to see the quality of light for the day.

Then I ask myself how the light feels and what kind of mood it brings to me? This simple daily routine can bring a strong energy into my life and art.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Portrait profile by Ala Cho

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