It has been a while since we last ran a photographer interview and so it feels great to kick this series back off with a really good one. Jean Marie Biele is a portrait and lifestyle photographer based in LA. We chat to Jean Marie about growing up surrounded by photography, her photography heroes and about how her work has evolved. Enjoy…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you first got started in photography.
I’m a 29 year-old photographer now based in Los Angeles, CA. I recently moved from Orlando, FL where I spent most of my life. My father fancied himself a bit of a photographer when I was younger and my mother managed a Kodak store back in the Philippines so the camera culture always surrounded me. They documented my childhood all the time and it only made sense that I picked up a camera too. I became the documentarian amongst my friends, but it wasn’t until a trip to the UK when I was twenty that the spark was properly lit. I had a crappy little point-and-shoot, but I loved documenting what I saw. When I returned home, my mom bought me my first DSLR and I taught myself from there. Since then, I’ve tried all genres of photography including concerts, weddings, sports, families, and so on. However, it wasn’t until last year really that I found my niche shooting models and found myself in a groove that I truly love.
If you were to describe your style of photography in five words or less, what would they be?
Intimate, organic, honest, clean, uncomplicated.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Oh man, so many places. Nature, magazines, fellow photographers. I’m constantly amazed by the world around me and I’m always seeing the world as a photograph. I’m usually looking up and wanting to snap photos which usually annoys whoever I’m with. I’m also constantly inspired by fellow photographers on Instagram. I came across so many talented artists from Orlando and elsewhere and seeing their work just pushes me to keep creating.
Who are your photography heroes?
Personally, Gabriel Bienczycki and Wayne Denny. Gabe gave me the encouragement and support I needed when I had pretty much given up on photography. Wayne was my photography partner for the past year and he taught me so much for which I am forever grateful. From afar, I’m constantly in awe of Ryan Muirhead and Ben Sasso. Both create such ethereal beauty that is truly magic and art combined.
What has been your experience with setting up a new photography business; what have been the high points and what lessons have you learned along the way?
This has been a long road that I am still navigating. I initially tried my hand at wedding and family portraits, but I never really had much success. Maybe because my heart was never fully in it; I don’t know. It’s only been recently that I have had mild success that I am proud of and that was due to having people believe in me and hustling 100%. Some high points include photographing for a high-profile client, traveling for work (it’s always been a weird dream of mine), and being approached for interviews on my photography. I feel like I’m still starting even though I’ve been photographing for almost ten years semi-seriously and seriously and any kind of attention is so flattering.
The photography industry is booming; how do you go about marketing yourself and your work? What tools and strategies do you employ?
Honestly, Instagram has helped me so much. Most models and companies approach me through there and I believe it’s because I take care in curating my feed. I know it sounds silly, but it helps. I used to just post whatever without any thought to the aesthetic, but it was only until I created a theme that I started getting more attention.
What is next for you? Are you working on any projects that you can tell us about?
I just moved to Los Angeles so everything is very exciting at the moment. I’ve already been working with some models and I’m open to collaborating more to get my name out there. Right now, I’m just hustling. I’m hoping to work with more agency models and brands in the coming year.
See more of Jean Marie’s work at:
All images copyright Jean Marie Biele.