Shining the Spotlight on Jennika Argent
From PA to Photographer and Artist.
This week’s Shining the Spotlight features Jennika Argent, who’s story will be a true inspiration for anyone having second thoughts about following their dreams and pursuing their passions.
Tell us about your journey into Photography and Art
“Unintentionally, I stumbled upon my love of Photography when I was picking modules for a Visual Communications degree at Middlesex University. Growing up, I wasn’t encouraged to take my creative side seriously, so graphic design was a sort of compromise, when deep down I really wanted to take Fine Art. Learning to manipulate light in the studio was really a turning point for me and made me see the world differently. I wondered how I had travelled around the globe without wanting to document all those unique landscapes, and then grieving all the lost photo opportunities I had missed out on!
After using a DSLR for the Photography module, I promptly saved up for one and started teaching myself how to use it through trial and error (no, they don’t teach you how to use the camera at university!). After that, friends started asking me to take their portraits and I found it to be a really enjoyable way of connecting with people. After building up a portfolio, I eventually started charging for my services.”
Working as a PA previously, how was it transitioning from working full-time to working part-time? Has it been easy?
“It wasn’t a difficult transition, as I have Iearnt how to be super organised and juggle tasks as a PA. I went down from working 5 days a week to 2 days, which gave me space to work during the week as a Photographer’s Assistant in Brick Lane (this is where I learned studio photography to a professional level). Being a Photographer’s Assistant can be a wonderful way to learn, and that job was particularly fun because the work was focused on male glamour.
When that position came to an end, I was offered another position as a Photography Assistant, which I turned down thinking I could go it alone. In hindsight, I should have taken that job as I would have learnt that bit faster! On the plus side, having my own studio space gave me the freedom to explore my own style of lighting.”
What does an average day look like for you?
“There really isn’t such a thing as an average day. I could be doing anything from photographing an Orchestra in the middle of their sound test at Abbey Road, to sitting at my computer editing and key-wording my latest set of travel photos, which can be very tedious, but well worth it when I receive a random payment from a photo I might have taken two years ago!
Right now, I am re-connecting with my artistic side by taking Art classes at the City Lit. If the weather is good, I can be found practising watercolours at my local park, the Horniman Gardens. A couple of weeks ago I was asked to teach an art workshop to a class of 8-yr-old budding artists at a school in Oxford (I have a new found respect for the teaching profession!). I try to say yes to requests even if I don’t have experience in that particular area. As Richard Branson said: ‘if somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!’ I’ve taken that approach with my most recent client request of producing a corporate marketing video. Learning on the spot is a challenge, but it helps me to push myself that little bit further.”
Has it been difficult to get into the corporate industry?
“Getting into Corporate Photography wasn’t difficult, as I’ve worked at various companies, including Insurance, Property, Law, and have made contacts along the way. The best thing about corporate clients is that they know what they are after in terms of style and end product. They are generally on time, and know how to keep to a schedule!”
Out of every aspect of Photography and Art that you do, what would you say is your favourite?
“My favourite aspect is the variety. I’m always looking for new and different ways to express my creative side, a recent example – travel writing (I’ve had 10 articles published so far). If we are talking purely about Photography and Art, then my favourite part would be the experimental side, when I am trying something out to ‘see what happens’, and then being surprised by the outcome. I love to play with shadows and reflections to achieve new perspectives.”
Which destinations has your career taken you to?
“My Photography clients are generally based in London, so travel is rare. However, when choosing a destination for my travels, I always consider whether there will be something for me to write about or photograph. I’ve sold pictures from Ghana, China, Iran, Iceland, Japan, Bolivia and even a couple taken through the window of planes!”
Is it easy juggling your Corporate and Fine Art work (what are the plus sides/ downsides)?
“It isn’t easy juggling Art and corporate work. Being in any environment with too many rules and regulations can impede on one’s artistic expression and dampen creativity! The plus side, is that corporate work ensures a reliable income and keeps me grounded. It also provides an interesting juxtaposition; walking through a blur of grey suits and buildings can really make you appreciate the colours in nature and be inspired by both ends of the spectrum.”
Are you working on anything exciting right now?
“At the moment, I am focusing on my painting, in particular watercolours, which is actually providing me with a tough challenge. They’re quite difficult to control, but part of their beauty is the unintentional tones and shapes that appear where you least expect them to. Painting has done for me what photography originally did. It’s made me see with new eyes again and I feel that sense of excitement that I did when I first discovered I could manipulate the light in the studio.
I’m still experimenting with finding my style artistically, although I’m heavily inspired by the natural world, and in particular trees. They were here so long before we ever appeared on this planet and have withstood so much more than our fragile human bodies can. How can you not be in awe of that?
I’m working my way towards producing a coherent body of work I can exhibit. I’ve exhibited my photography before and had it published etc, but for me, paintings are more personal and the thought of exposing them makes me feel uneasy. But the more I share my work, the less affected I am with the reception it receives. Of course, its lovely to hear compliments, but a well-placed constructive critique is just as valuable.”
For the Art enthusiasts out there, is there any advice that you would give them?
“For anyone interested in Art or who wants to grow their creativity, taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone is essential. I was petrified at my first art class (back in October 2018) worrying about whether I could paint in front of people rather than in the privacy and comfort of my own home.
It took me a long time to just get it booked, worrying about the judgements and criticisms I might receive. I couldn’t have been more wrong; art class provides such a great atmosphere for learning. I really surprised myself with what I was capable of with a little guidance. Allowing yourself the space to make mistakes and experiment is also important.
Two books which have really been supporting me on my journey are: The Artists Way and Drawing on the Right side of the Brain. They both provide practical advice and exercises which can easily be implemented on a day to day basis, helping to build confidence with time and practice.”
Click here to check out Jennika’s luxury travel blog!
Published by Strictly Recruitment
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