Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Drawing with Light: Interview with Jaimie Pratt

Jaimie Pratt is a photographer from South Africa

Modelrecs approaches fashion and creativity with an irreverent spirit. We hold contests on Instagram that offer creatives the opportunity to submit their work with a chance to win a prize. A few weeks ago, we held a contest for the most interesting beauty photographer in South Africa. The winner of that competition was Jaimie Pratt. As a winner of the competition, we interviewed her to learn more about her and her photography practice.

You can see her entry for the contest here.


A 20-year-old, passionate Cape Town portrait photographer, trying to inspire people to chase their creative dreams as if it will heal them. Because it will. 


Q: When did your interest in photography start and why did you start taking pictures?

A: I have always been an art fanatic. I think my grandma and my high school art teacher were massive influencers on my artistic mindset. I think everybody needs someone next to them, reminding them to nurture their creativity and crush society’s limiting beliefs around jobs as creators.

I started taking photos for fun in 2017. It was a purely social thing for me. I never saw myself going into a career in photography. During my gap year, I started studying at ORMS, Cape Town School of Photography, because I became bored halfway through the year and spontaneously took up a 6-month course. I think ORMS is amazing. It truly ignited a flame that is still burning.

It is often said that an image speaks a thousand words. What is your approach for using images to tell stories? How do you bring the fullness of narrative to your pictorial work?

I love to use non-photographic references for inspiration. I love stealing stylistic ideas from paintings and films (Wes Anderson’s style is a massive influence for me). The more unusual and abstract the photos come out, the better.

I always keep my phone Notes on standby. Inspiration strikes at random. Sometimes even in dreams. I try to make my work both personal and incredibly ambiguous; up to the viewer’s imagination.

What have been your biggest challenges as a photographer? How did you overcome them?

I’m generally somebody who doesn’t see challenges as a bad thing, I tend to morph them into my journey to the point where they don’t stick out like a sore thumb, but more as a stair-step to propel me. I’ve taken my photography journey nice and relaxed, almost as if I’m still the 2017 version of myself, dragging my friends out of the house for photoshoots.

If I have to pull an answer out of my journey for this question, I guess I would have to say my most prominent challenge is being a young, female photographer. There have been a couple of clients who didn’t respect my time and pushed me around a bit.

Your photographic subjects, your characters, have a disarming calmness about them. How do you go about setting the scene and giving instructions for posing to convey a mood or pictorial idea?

Making the subject feel comfortable is key. I believe that if you build a genuine connection between model and photographer, you create photos that appear unforced and more natural, even if they are in completely unnatural poses. And you get to connect with another human being, which is just lovely for the soul. If you see me on set with a model, you’ll notice questions don’t stop pouring out of my mouth. I love learning more about people. Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.

How do you go about doing location scouting?

I keep a little list tucked away in my journal, filled with location ideas. I never stop unconsciously adding to that list as I go about my life. The parking lot on the way to the grocery store? Add it. The waterfall on the hike last Saturday? Add it. In passing conversation, someone mentioned a half-built building on the mountain slope? Add it. I think it’s amazing when your passion starts to blur the barriers between life and work. I’m constantly both living while I work, and working while I live.

Where is your dream location for a shoot? Why do you pick this location? What are the attributes of this location that makes it special?

I don’t necessarily have a dream location. To be honest, every up-coming shoot is generally the only thing on my brain. But I have been thinking of shooting inside Long Street Bath House. I love the patterns and colors of the interior. I think I could definitely create some intriguing work in that space. There’s so much you can do with bodies of water.

What is your process for planning a shoot?

I’ve recently started to personalize my shoots to my clients. “What are their interests?”, “What are their passions?”, “What color do I think represents them?” etc. I try to represent them as creatively as I can. At the end of the day, I want my models to be the main focus. I want to turn them into art.

What role does nature play in how you tell stories with images? What influence does it have over your picture-taking?

I’ve always admired nature. I think if you break anything down enough in life, and combine a nice potion of spirituality and science, you start to see all life as the same. Everything is interconnected.

I haven’t really thought about it too much until this question, but I think I like connecting with my subject while we both connect and heal in the middle of nature at the same time. Away from distraction. Away from the disconnect of everyday life.

What is your approach to framing, lighting, and composition?

I feel as if the lighting is the MOST important aspect of photography. The word ‘photography’ is literally derived from Greek roots roughly translating to “drawing with light”. If you understand how the camera works internally, you really start to understand the importance of lighting up your subject properly. And I always use natural light.

I think with my background, from the year I spent studying Fine Arts, and my constantly evolving fascination with art in general, I compose my photos the same as I would compose my paintings and drawings. I love symmetry and I love soft, cotton-candy colors dancing through the background, so I always opt for shoots during sunset and sunrise. It’s also an excuse to open up your pineal gland! So important for peace.

If you had to choose the perfect image that represents the type of images and aesthetic quality that defines you, which one would you choose and why?

A definitive image by photographer Jaimie Pratt

A definitive image by photographer Jaimie Pratt

You’re asking me to choose a favorite child! Haha. I’d have to say the shoot with my latest client, and close friend. I loved the opportunity to combine his personal interests; art and surfing. A shoot in the ocean was something that had been lingering in my mind for about a year prior. It was wild to finally see that idea materialize in front of me.

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