My first interaction with Jess was through Instagram. I was 9 months out of grad school and hadn't picked up my camera in months. I'm a temperamental person at the best of times but when I'm not making things it gets way worse. I had always been a street shooter; lines, space, and geometry always seemed more appealing than people. I knew to grow as a photographer I would to eventually explore portraiture. Breaking out of a comfort zone is often a good way to break through creative malaise. First thing I needed though was a model. I had noticed this one girl constantly popping up on my Instagram feed. She was everywhere and her photos seemed to have... something. They had the feeling of movement even in a still shot. She was open and out there with the concepts she was working with. And her eyes weren't flat, they seemed to teem with emotion. So I shot her a message, asked for a rate and waited to hear back.
And get back to me she did, with I response I didn't quite expect. Jess looked at my website, more specifically she looked at my thesis. My thesis project used photography to examine how I coped with the trauma of previous abuse, and Jess disclosed to me that her work was all about doing the very same thing. It wasn't about using nudity for likes, or just expressing the beauty of the female form for its beauty alone. She was reclaiming something she felt was lost. She was starting on a path that I have been on for years.
That realization, the acknowledgement of shared experience, was the start of it. Working with, and becoming friends with Jessica has brought me such joy. Despite all that she has endured she is still a burst of sunshine, which is a nice counterpoint to my "cynical northeasterness". I'm also honored to be able to help someone who survived trauma like I survived and who has used art to explore and heal.
She has pushed me out of my comfort zone, because her's seemingly has no limits. She pushes me to be on my game, because that's what she demands. Jess is intense, and unafraid to act on a moment of inspiration no matter how out there it may seem to a spectator. This has presented her with a few challenges. People don't know what to make of her, and those qualities that I find so endearing kinda scare them off. She asked me how to handle this, and I told her to "Collaborate, but don't compromise. You aren't doing this all for them, you're doing it for you".
Keep on keeping on girl. You're about a year out from going full performance art anyway.