Photographer Interview: Shaniqwa Jarvis

Photographer Interview: Shaniqwa Jarvis

A selfie by Photographer Shaniqwa Jarvis


Our first interactions with a brand are often through photographs and yet we rarely get to meet the photographers behind our favorite advertising campaigns. The youthful energy behind photographer Shaniqwa Jarvis‘ work is what has has made her a favorite among mega brands like Converse and Stussy.

Jarvis is living/working the creative dream that so many strive for, matching her own visual style with her client’s marketing needs. Catch up with Shaniqwa Jarvis on Twitter @shaniqwajarvis, on Instagram @sheekswinsalways and see clips from her latest shoots on her blog, The Deuce.

D&B: Where are you from? Where do you reside?
SJ: I am from New York City and triangulate between New York, Los Angeles and London shooting fashion, music and youth culture campaigns for a myriad of clients.

Talk about when you first picked up a camera and felt that you could make images others wanted to see.
I was given a camera at an early age, around 5 or 6 and I remember shooting things in my bedroom.
I still have a few prints of the first thing I photographed, which was a Raggedy Ann vase with a stargazer lily in it. It’s funny because I can remember everything about that day but only due to the photograph. Throughout my youth I always had a camera with me and loved to take photos but not until I was on a break from college and interned for Paper magazine did I realize I wanted to become a professional photographer.

Liberty London Kids campaign - Copyright Shaniqwa Jarvis
Copyright Shaniqwa Jarvis

Did you assist any photographers early on in your career? Who have been your mentors?
While attending Parsons School of Design for Photography I worked for a few different magazines, through the magazines I ended up assisting a few stylists. I eventually worked as a photo editor and producer for a wide range of clients. Working for magazines like Timeout New York, Elle and Newsweek helped fine tune my eye and understand what editors want as well as the level of professionalism needed while on set and how to handle different obstacles and personalities.

Who would you love to shoot that you haven’t already?
There is a massive list of people, but for some reason right now I’m blanking on anyone.

Stussy campaign - Copyright Shaniqwa Jarvis
Copyright Shaniqwa Jarvis

Are kids easy to photograph?
I think kids aren’t easy to photograph but I absolutely love photographing them and believe that shows. Children are very honest and not quite in a place where they want to get a certain image across, which allows for an amazing range of imagery.

What’s your personal vision for advertising photography?
I understand at the end of the day I’m hired to help sell a product so I try to facilitate that by creating ideas that are original to me and the brand. I always want to keep the imagery as “true” as possible and I feel my clients trust me to deliver raw and honest imagery. An example of that would be the shoot I did for a Converse x Undefeated campaign. I cast, styled, and photographed 4 subjects throughout NYC. The images had a great affect on the brand as well as the consumer, as the men I photographed felt very real-sartorially and emotionally.

Another example of being able to carry out my personal vision is the shoot I did for Stussy Deluxe where I took the product and two subjects to Morocco to photograph them on a road trip in a setting that wasn’t typical advertising but very much my style . In the end I captured images that Stussy and myself are very proud of.

Converse campaign - Copyright Shaniqwa Jarvis
Copyright Shaniqwa Jarvis

Describe your editing process. What do you look for in an image?
Having worked as a photo editor for 5 years has influenced the way I edit my images. I try to do 3 passes and tend to select images that immediately stand out. I will also ask my partner and agent for help as its nice to get a pair of fresh eyes on your work.

There’s a curious, stop-motion quality to your video work. Is this because you prefer the still image?
I am just fiddling round with video, but plan to do more video projects next year. I’m slated to shoot a short I wrote for a brand as well as a few other pieces on I’ve written.

Any advice for photographers seeking commercial representation?
Do your research as there are a lot of agents out there. You want to get into a relationship with someone who understands your vision of where you see yourself in the future and the types of clients you would like to work with.

What do you think it takes to stand out in a crowd of talent, especially in large cities like NYC?
Good ideas plus great marketing and the best contacts mixed with incredible support.


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Dodge & Burn is a blog dedicated to documenting a more inclusive history of photography and supporting the work of photographers of color with photographer interviews.

This blog is published by visual artist and writer, Qiana Mestrich. For regular updates on diversity in photography history, follow Qiana on Twitter @mestrich, Like the Dodge & Burn Blog page on Facebook or subscribe to Dodge & Burn by email.

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