Julie Riemersma is a Toronto based fashion photographer who shoots everything from editorials to commercial spreads, and her own art photography. We met about a year ago through some mutual friends in the fashion industry, and I got Julie to shoot my SS18 Lookbook right here in Toronto. As with all of her work, the results were gorgeous. I got to chat with Julie about the perks and pitfalls of creative work, her everyday inspiration and Toronto’s distinct style. Click through to read more!
Q: You were in Ottawa for a while, how long have you been in Toronto? What drew you to Toronto?
A: I’m actually originally from Vancouver, but I lived in Ottawa for 6 years. I moved to Toronto in 2010 for photography school, since I knew I wanted to be a fashion photographer, and there isn’t much of a fashion industry in Ottawa. Now, Toronto feels more like home than either Vancouver or Ottawa. I love the vibrancy and the creative energy of Toronto. Most of all I love all the neighbourhoods. There is always a new event, bar, or shop to find!
Q: Do you think Canadians have a distinctive style?
A: I don’t know if Canadians have a distinct style overall, but I would say we have to have pretty good winter style, since wearing a black parka everyday gets old after 5 months of winter. I’d say that Torontonians love comfort and originality, and are great at mixing vintage pieces with local designers. They have a mastery of not looking overdone, but still done-up. Many of my favourite clothes are now from Bunz, which is a Toronto phenomenon.
Q: You have a really compelling portfolio of fashion photography, but you also create your own art photography. What inspires your art? What kind of mood do you want to project with your art photography?
A: Visually, I’m inspired by things everyday, from the textures of alleyways, to the way the setting sun reflects off windows. In my art I draw inspiration from my childhood and life experiences, as well as current events and social issues. I would say that visual art, no matter the type is all about saying something. The hard part is distilling all the emotion into something that clearly communicates your perspective.
Q: I know a lot of photographers need to be versatile when it comes to their work. You’ve done some commercial fashion photography, what is that experience like?
A: I love being a professional photographer, I get to take pictures for a living! I’m happy to be shooting anything, from portraits to events. My true passion has always been fashion photography, so every fashion shoot I have the privilege of doing is an amazing experience. Doing fashion creatives lets me play around, and try new things, but being hired to shoot a designer’s line is the ultimate dream. I love being able to take all my creative experience, and create images that communicate the designer’s vision to their customers.
As a female fashion photographer, I feel I have a unique perspective. I’ve always been passionate about women’s clothes. I was looking at Vogue and making dresses for my dolls since I was a toddler. Fashion photography is advertising photography, so we try to create the desire to own the clothes in the customer, but I think women identify with the model’s strength and confidence more than her sex appeal.
Q: When you’re orchestrating an editorial shoot, what is the process like? Do you collaborate with others or man the helm yourself?
A: Unfortunately and fortunately creative editorials tend to be mostly left up to the photographer. We are responsible for putting together the team, location, lighting+mood, contacting (modeling) agencies, pre-production like props and call sheets, arranging lunch, and then the post production and magazine submission process. The concepts are often created by the photographer, but I do love to collaborate with others as well. So it’s a lot of pressure and responsibility, however the photographer has a lot of creative control. I also love collaborating with other disciplines of artists to create mixed-media projects.
Q: What was your all-time favourite shoot?
A: So hard to pick just one shoot! I’d have to say one of the most magical ones was an editorial we did on a farm with horses, with the fall foliage. The whole team was awesome, and everything came together. That was just the one that had the most interesting location, but I’ve done so many shoots in the last year that I absolutely loved. I also love getting to do weird/unconventional things, shoots with social context, or mixed-media projects.
My favourite shoot tends to be the one I just did, as I’m always trying to push myself to be better, but by the time I’m submitting it, I’ve spend over 40 hours creating and staring at every inch of those images, and I tend to be a bit sick of them.
Q: If resources were no issue, what would be your dream photoshoot?
A: I don’t know if I have one dream shoot in mind, but I can’t wait to travel to international destinations and do photoshoots there. I’m excited that, as I build my skills and portfolio, I get the change to work with a wider network of talented models, makeup artists, and stylists. Also getting to work with luxury couture designs in exotic locations with a killer team would be the dream.
Q: What projects do you have in the works right now?
A: Right now I’ve got quite a few projects on the go. The biggest project I’m working on isn’t actually a fashion project, I’m working on a time lapse project for Contact photography festival, that looks at social media’s effect on mental health. I have a few creative projects I’m waiting to release, and I’ve been branching out to other mediums like painting, poetry, and music. All those on top of quite a few client bookings for portraits and events, so it’s a busy month!
Q: Bonus question: what is your favourite song at the moment?
A: Hmm I have a lot of favourite songs, but I’d say 3WW by alt-j and Life is Hard by Toronto artist Nyssa are two of my recent favourite downloads. I’ll be honest, after going to music bingo at The Gladstone, I’ve been on a bit of a 90s dance kick lately.
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