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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Sustainable Prospects – My Photographic DNA

What defines a photographer?  Surely it is more than simply someone who takes photographs and in some cases, getting paid to do so?  If that were the whole story, everyone would be making similar work, with no real variation between practices.

This question got me thinking about what defines me as a photographer. Setting out on this journey of discovery, I have found myself questioning my motivations and drive. What is it that I actually do?

At this current time, I consider myself to be a photographer, publisher, marketer, social media communicator, blogger, website builder, and curator.  I need to do all of these roles to develop my practice.  I am are that there are other roles I have missed out too.

Technology means that I can self-publish photobooks, as well as promote and exhibit my work online. I can target and connect with my audience easily, even crowdsourcing images from anywhere in the world.

At the core of my practice, is an artist who thrives on creating pictures for myself.  I hope to sell prints and books through galleries and exhibitions, although this is an area I really need to refine and develop. There is also a commercial photography aspect to my practice. I create images as requested by clients. I aim to bring my creative interpretation to the work as long as it fits with the expectations of the client.

The journey to discover who I am as a photographer is that I am inspired by so many different photographers.  These influences come from multiple genres including fashion, portrait, and commercial, as well as artists who interfere with the surface of the photographs (stitching, scratching, drawing).  This makes the job of determining my photographic DNA hard as I need to remember that I can’t be all things to all people, or clients.

The questions that have been suggested as needing to be answered when understanding my individual DNA are:

“Which images do you enjoy shooting?  What photography are you good at?  Which photographers inspire you and what area do they work in?  In an ideal world, where would you like to see your work? Magazines? Billboards? Galleries?  What are your personal interests?” (, 2017)

Which images do I enjoy shooting?

I enjoy shooting lots of different genres of photography.  But in order to be able to refine my practice and work on my brand, I have had to dig deeper than this generic and open response. Being a female photographer, I find that everyone assumes I want to shoot children, families or weddings.  But this isn’t me. I want to be more creative and produce edgier shots.

When I thought about the question and focused on what I truly enjoy, it was simple.  I am a portrait photographer. I enjoy capturing a subject where the face of the person in fron t of the lens is the predominant feature of the image.  The image is about them and whether or not I have managed to capture their essence and character. I love workiing with people.  I love how light falls on their face and the light catches their eye.

So, my practice is about photographing people.

What photography am I good at?

My personable nature means that I am good at photographing people.  I am able to connect with them and ensure that they feel amazing during and after their shoot. I can easily direct them to produce the best possible pose for them and the story they want to portray. I talk to the people I am shooting.  We share stories and jokes.  The atmosphere I create during the shoot is fun and friendly, as well as welcoming and nuturing.  It feels odd to be saying these things without appearing to blow my own trumpet loudly. However, these aren’t just my thoughts; the extracts below are from references I have been left on a website platform that brings models and photographers together.

“Jo is a fun and patient person that helps you to give 110% with her enthusiasm and charm. She also makes me giggle.”

“Jo is so easy and such a pleasure to work with. She is such a gem and the full package! Take a great personality, pair it with an incredible talent and add a pinch of good sense of humour and voila you get Jo. I believe she is a magician as she not simply takes a picture of you, rather she captures a piece of the real you in an incredibly creative and beautiful way.”

“Brilliant fun and made me feel relaxed, special and we produced some great pictures”

“It was a fab way to start a studio day, Jo is full of fun and laughter, and creativity.”

“I adore working with this lady, she is so full of energy and creativity and just generally brightens my day every time I see her”

“She’s really fun to work with, professional but able to have a laugh with as well!”

“Totally relaxed, informative, full of ideas and most of all fun!!!”

“Jo is a true creative with an eye for detail. She is very organized, patient and has a great attitude. I would have no hesitation in working with Jo again. She is a lovely photographer with a great vision of what she wants to achieve.”

All reference extracts taken from, 2017.

Which photographers inspire me and what area do they work in?

“The more pictures you see, the better you are as a photographer”

– Robert Mapplethorpe (The Art of Creative Photography, 2017)

I love looking at the work of others.  I find so many photographers inspiring, even those whose work is not necessarily portraiture.  I am particularly inspired by the portraiture of photographers Jamie Hawkesworth, Robert Mapplethorpe, Spencer Murphy, Diane Arbus, and Cindy Sherman. I am also drawn to the work of Roger Ballen with its surreal feel and to that of Sylvie Bonnot’s use of mixed mediums to produce her work.

In an ideal world, where would I like to see my work? Magazines? Billboards? Galleries?

My ideal vision of image dissemination is that my work would be seen in galleries and exhibitions, where prints and photobooks would be available to purchase. I would also like to see my work featured in fashion and art magazines.

I would love to have a exhibition along the lines of the one Jamie Hawkesworth had at Huis Marseille in Amsterdam. (Previous Blog Post Link).  I was particularly inspired that the gap between his personal and commercial work is seemless. I aspire to achieve his level of success.

What are my personal interests?

I enjoy most aspects of photography.  I love experimenting and producing different types of work.  In this respect, I am still evolving as a photographer. I enjoy the technical apsects of photography as well as the creative aspects. I enjoy getting images right in camera and not having to edit them too much afterwards.

I am personally interested in how we perform in front of the camera.  Recently this has also evolved into an interest in to how we perform every day in front of other people. Making people feel comfortable with me and the camera is something I want to get right as it is an area I personally struggle with.

REFERENCES (2017). Log in to canvas. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2017]. (2017). References for Jo Sutherst Photos / Portfolio hosting and networking for models, photographers and related creatives / PurplePort. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2017].

The Art of Creative Photography. (2017). Thinking Of Robert Mapplethorpe – Homenage To A Great Portrait Artist. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2017].

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