Q&A: Jessica Tremp

There are some perks to getting lost down an Instagram scroll-hole, and one such perk has to be discovering photographers sharing genuinely powerful work that stops you in your Insta-tracks. Australian-based photographer Jessica Tremp is one of those individuals. We came across her beautiful images of motherhood, nature, the home and beyond, and we couldn’t stop ourselves from finding out more about the woman behind the lens. Her intimate pictures offer a snapshot of family life in the wilds of the Southern Hemisphere - sweeping, mountainous landscapes juxtapose bath-time scenes with her two children or a delicate self portrait in the morning sun. Regardless of the subject, every one of Jessica’s images tells its own personal story, touching upon every angle of human emotion. We sat down with Jessica to to learn a little more.

When did you first develop an interest in photography and how did it come about?

I’m pretty sure I’ve always loved photography. As a teen I used to collect pages from my Dad’s art magazines and take portraits of my friends, however it wasn’t until my early to mid twenties that I became more obsessed. I’d just been through a break up and was living alone when I found a group of new friends through an online art sharing site. We’d meet up most days and take photos in garages and abandoned houses. It was a great way to keep my mind busy and soul happy. It seems forever ago now, but from there work slowly trickled in and these days, mainly shooting weddings with some editorial and fashion work thrown in, it’s my full time job.

How would you describe your style of photography? Which subjects do you find yourself drawn to most?

Intimate, with a slight tension between stillness and something wild under the surface.

I probably use myself as a subject the most because I’m always available and I can convey what I want to without having to explain myself to anyone. Often if I have to find words for it or plan it, it doesn’t work out as well or lacks a certain warmth.

Tell us why you decided to focus a lot of your work on motherhood.

I was worried when I had my first son that I’d become one of those people that overshares images of her kids, so I pushed myself to prove otherwise. The work I produced however, especially in hindsight, feels a bit shallow. The truth is that motherhood powerfully changes someone. Different things matter more or less to you than before. It was unavoidable that my children would eventually creep into my work and these days I embrace it wholeheartedly.

There has been a shift in how I view what’s important in a photograph too. I’m less interested in contrived images and find more beauty in the subtle nuances and documentation of life.

What makes you love living in Australia and how does the landscape inspire you?

I love how wild and empty Australia is. Somewhere you truly can get lost in. There’s romance in the brutality of the land, the rugged coastline, ancient rainforests, barren deserts. The unique flora and fauna, red earth, knobbly white trunks of ghost gums, the cheekiness of cockatoos and the tolerant and creative city of Melbourne, which has given me the permission and acceptance to become who I am. I feel less happy about the political climate. Much like the majority of the world, we have become so divided. I long for us all to be more humanitarian, farsighted and generous at heart.

Do you feel as though you’ve changed since becoming a mother? If so, in what ways?

Absolutely. Patience, love and fear are words that have completely redefined themselves for me. It has been a relief to put my own ego at rest, which has also in turn helped my anxiety. Even though I was never really maternal or clucky before having children, I feel as though maybe some subconscious biological need has been met for me. I’ve come out the other side so much more confident and grateful. I feel more capable and also more content.

I won’t lie though, there are days that are a pure struggle with my own limitations of patience. I also never could have imagined the weight of this incredible fragility of life that seems so much more prominent and heavy ache now that these beautiful souls depend on me.

What do you enjoy doing with your family (or by yourself!) to unwind?

I grew up quite independent as my parents both worked long hours and I don’t have siblings. I feel like that may have helped foster my imagination and it’s important that my kids can keep themselves occupied by themselves too. I love being goofy and silly with them, but I find it really tedious and boring to sit down and play with kid things. I’ve felt guilty about this in the past, but I can’t change it. I make it up to them in other ways. We all really enjoy good food, so dinners (both cooking and eating) are spent together every day, talking about our high and low points.

Bath times are another ritual of slowing down and talking about anything that may be troubling them or anything they want to know more about. I’ve had discussions about most difficult subjects with them by now and I thoroughly enjoy listening to them find their own reasoning and moral compass. We all enjoy faffing about in the garden on a sunny day too. Pottering around the house or cooking a meal for friends, listening to music, drinking a good Italian red, admiring my kids’ beautifully naive drawing skills, is my nirvana. Basically we are a family that very much enjoys being home, having our own space to think and then coming together for conversation about it.

Finally, tell us about your beautiful sculpture work!

I mostly associate photography with work these days, so I really needed a creative outlet that set itself apart from spending all this time in front of a screen. I really wish I could paint, but alas, I don’t have the talent. Using my hands on something three dimensional and rough has been so important for me. It’s almost a type of mediation. I don’t think about anything else except for the task at hand for hours at a time. I started taking some sculpture lessons locally and became hooked straight away. We have a small greenhouse in the backyard which I’ve converted into a makeshift workshop. It’s important to be able to have a small space to make (and leave) mess unabashedly.

You can browse more of Jessica’s beautiful work here.

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