We sat down with the young yet immensely talented photographer, Jasmin Chew. She specializes in self portraits and brand work and has worked with brands both big and small — like Albion Fit, Gigi Pip and Vivamacity. She is also a content photographer for Canva. We got to know a little more about her style, process and inspirations.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and how you became a photographer?
I'm currently 21 years old. And I started photography probably when I was about 13, or 14. I didn't have a digital camera, so I had to use what I had, which was my phone. I think it was an iPhone 4 or something. I downloaded Instagram and I saw a bunch of these young artists doing cool Photoshop things and I wanted to try. I didn't have any models, so I used to put my phone on video mode and just pose myself and record the entire thing and screenshot whatever pose I liked. And then I would try and edit it with different apps and that's kind of how I developed my editing skills and learned what composition, saturation and highlights were.
Eventually, when I graduated high school, I thought I didn't want to pursue photography anymore so I stopped and decided to get my yoga certification. But then I met my boyfriend who is a filmmaker and he helped me to fall back in love with photography. I mainly stopped because what my photography teacher told me my work was too recognizable and boring. And I thought well, if he thinks that, then everyone else probably thinks the same thing. But I went on vacation and I took my camera and that was the first time I touched my camera in about a year and a half and I fell right back in love with photography.
I never wanted to go to university or college though, I wasn't a fan of school. So instead, I did continuing education courses at a college and I did a few photography and business courses And that's when my teacher taught me what manual mode was, which was a complete game changer for me. That summer is when everything just started taking off and I was found on Unsplash. And Unsplash ended up being an excellent community to be on because I made a lot of friends and gained a lot of clients. From there I just grew more and more.
What does your creative process look like?
Since I started shooting with just myself, I kind of got used to it. I still don't really shoot models. Usually, my focus is brand work. My boyfriend and I have a routine. He takes the photos of me, but before that happens, we plan everything out. So we'll plan the location and the outfits. I will take a photo of him as a test shot. And then he'll just copy the photo. I set all of the settings and that's kind of how we shoot most of our brand work. But some days if he's busy there will be times where I'm by myself. So I will take my tripod and do it on my own.
What’s it like being a creative in Toronto?
Well, I've lived in Toronto my whole life but I don't plan on living here forever. The winter here is brutal and it’s so brown and gray. When it's snowy, it's okay, but you have to actually go out of the city to see a nice Winter Wonderland. So that's why when we do shoot, I will usually find smaller towns up north and escape the city. I like to shoot a lot of nature, forests, fields, or use the sky as my backdrop. So I’ve definitely found being in Toronto really challenging, especially during the winter.
What are three words that you would use to describe your work?
Calming, dreamy, and flowery
Is there a certain photo you’ve taken that is your favorite?
Yeah, it's currently my profile picture on my email. It's mostly the sky and my side profile and I'm wearing a dress and my hair is down. But the backstory to this photo is just ridiculous. My boyfriend and I took this photo in the summer in the middle of a school field. The sky was insane so we specifically wanted to capture it as the backdrop but I couldn't do that if he was on the same level as me, because the buildings or trees would be in the way so I actually had to climb on top of a dumpster. It was so nasty and smelled so bad. But there I was standing on top of this dumpster. So it's just really funny because now it's my favorite picture and no one knows that story behind it.
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