With roots in marketing and a flair for the commercial, Jodie James’s transformation into a master visual storyteller has been noticed in the advertising world.
The latest signing to Film Construction, Jodie blends artistry and marketing in her approach to photography. For her, it’s not merely about taking pictures; it’s about comprehending the campaign’s essence, target audience, and desired impact. Her eclectic interests infuse her creative process with a unique perspective, allowing her to discover beauty and inspiration in the most unexpected corners.
But what truly sets her photography apart is her skill in uncovering hidden narratives within her frames, adding depth and intrigue to her visuals, and r capturing authentic brand narratives.
LBB> Your journey from a marketing and commercial background to becoming a creative commercial and editorial photographer is intriguing. How did your marketing experience shape your approach to photography and storytelling?
Jodie> Having a background in marketing gives me a deeper understanding of what the campaign needs to communicate in its final delivery. Rather than just taking pretty pictures, understanding the reason, the audience, the story, and the outcome that they are trying to achieve. Being a lot more collaborative with clients has been fantastic, as our magic working together can really shine.
Experience in marketing also helps me get more depth, emotion and connection in the story, as knowing the psychology behind marketing and selling allows me to craft the image.
LBB> How do your diverse interests influence your creative process and photography style?
Jodie> For me, inspiration and creativity are everywhere I look, I have taught myself to push through the creative blocks, to see beyond what is right there and to make something extraordinary out of everyday things. I am so intrigued by the psychology behind what we do, how we buy, and what makes us tick that I’m constantly expanding my knowledge to understand people better.
Widening the gap of where I look for inspiration allows me to come up with new ideas and go in directions I never thought I would.
LBB> The imagery you capture aims to tell authentic brand stories. Could you share an example of a project where your photography successfully conveyed a brand’s narrative uniquely and unexpectedly?
Jodie> I worked on a beautiful internal campaign for Fonterra with D&Co, which, unlike most other campaigns, was to promote a more serious topic. We worked with local farmers around Canterbury to communicate the importance of the discussion & to encourage everyone to voice their opinions. We took a more stoic, serious tone than the usual shoot & it gave us a fantastic range of content to communicate the importance of the project.
LBB> Your work is praised for its ability to capture transitional and unnoticed moments. How do you navigate the process of integrating these hidden narratives into your photography, and what role do they play in making your work stand out?
Jodie> It involves a lot of planning to craft a story and a deeper narrative of an image. Still, sometimes, it’s about letting the moment develop authentically and continuing to shoot outside the ‘normal’ parameters. A lot of it is being patient, connecting, and collaborating. Sometimes, it’s just letting the brief percolate subconsciously for a while, and like magic, an idea will form. Creativity often needs space.
LBB> Being based in Wanaka, New Zealand, offers incredible natural landscapes for your photography. How does your unique location impact the themes and settings you choose for your photoshoots?
Jodie> Most people say I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. It was just today, I was skiing on Treble Cone, where I have skied for 25 years, and I looked at the view only to see it as incredibly beautiful as the first time I saw it.
A lot of clients come and shoot campaigns here from all around the world. The significant advantage I have is that I have lived here most of my life – it means I know unique locations that are off the beaten track, I know how the weather works, where the sun will be and how quickly you need to get off the lake in your boat when the wind picks up! Most people don’t realise how diverse the landscape can be here; there are secret pockets that look like Mars to lakes off in the mountains that could be anywhere in the world. This area really does have so much to offer, so I am very lucky.
LBB> Joining Film Construction’s stills roster is a significant step in your photography journey. Could you discuss your perspective on being part of this creative powerhouse and how it aligns with your creative vision?
Jodie> Being part of the FC team is epic – these guys really align with everything I strive to be. They are kind, welcoming and ambitious. They are creative, funny, and not afraid to be brave. I am super stoked to have joined them and so excited to work with such a vast experience of knowledge. I love to create, if I didn’t get paid, I would still constantly build, design, photograph, draw, paint and whatever else comes to mind (you should see all the notes, ideas, and personal projects of all sorts that are around my home!) So, to be able to create with these guys is exciting.
LBB> The press release mentions your goal of empowering viewers to embark on a visual treasure hunt within your work. How do you achieve this sense of discovery and engagement in your photography?
Jodie> I do love to really think about images before I take them. I love to think about the composition, where the viewer will look first, then second… I love to think about the impact the colours have on the emotion the viewer will feel. I love to trigger an emotion, regardless of whether it’s a good or bad one, rather than just take a pretty picture. The images I am most proud of create the opportunity for viewers to create their own story, to use their rose-coloured glasses to see what they see. I try not to spell everything out but to let them experience it themselves.
LBB> As the current president of the New Zealand AIPA, you undoubtedly have a deep connection to the photography industry. How does this leadership role influence your work and approach to photography?
Jodie> I am new to this role, so it has not had much influence on my work yet! However, I have always wanted to build connections and help people wherever possible. Being a creative can be a lonely journey, I love any opportunity to collaborate but, more importantly, share my knowledge and help others be the best they can be. I have had and continue to have plenty of wonderful people in my life who have helped me along the way, so the least I can do is pass it on. Being the president does feel a little scary as I hope I can do all our members justice and continue to create an organisation that is a fantastic group to be part of.
LBB> Film Construction has highlighted your ability to find beauty in everyday scenes and people, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Could you share a story behind a photograph where you achieved this transformative effect?
Jodie> I love adding some quirk to my images, especially a touch of humour. I love it when I see an image that makes me laugh…even if, after my first reaction, it actually makes me a little sad.
One example that will likely make you laugh is the Wrapped Christmas Tree. It was close to Christmas, and I was thinking about how ridiculous the amount of presents my niece and nephew get… inspired by oversized gestures, I jokingly said to my partner, “I want to wrap up one of our trees”. So, on his next visit to Kmart, being the wonderful, generous person he is, he called to ask if I needed anything. I said as much wrapping paper as you think I would need to wrap the big round tree – oh, and a big bow.
By the time he got home, I had lost the excitement; however, a few days later, I suddenly had the urge to go and do it. Sadly, because the sport was on television, I was left to battle alone with three thin wrapping paper rolls. I don’t know what my neighbours thought I was up to, but it was definitely entertaining for them. After about a 30-minute wrestling match, I made it acceptable and had to rush to get my camera before the sun went down. If nothing else, it was a great afternoon outside and my neighbours got some light entertainment.
LBB> Your work is described as having intentional undertones that lend immediacy and gravitas to your imagery. How do you infuse your photos with these subtle yet impactful elements that resonate with viewers?
Jodie> Usually, quite a lot of thoughtful planning. I do waiver between shooting, getting in the groove and seeing what happens to intentionally planning almost every part of the image. I love taking inspiration from others’ work, but I love problem-solving, and I think a considerable amount of photography involves precisely that.