At the end of 2011, we had closed out a Creative Invite to photograph the vocalist Dev in concert. Jessika Dabrowski, also known as Jessie Dee, was the runner up and had her work featured by Dev on her social media channels.
It’s been awhile since that time, but we have finally been able to connect and she gave us some background on herself, her work, and her goals.
TH: How did you become involved with this Creative Invite?
When I saw the invite, it just seemed like fate.
Jessie Dee: I love creating things, I thrive on competition and I’ve always been a fan of Dev so when I saw this, it basically screamed my name. Funny enough, I also serve at a pretty popular restaurant and one night, before she became really well known, I happened to have the opportunity to take care of her. It was her and The Cataracs and honestly, they were just so down to earth and fun! It was hard NOT to like her after that. When I saw the invite, it just seemed like fate.
TH: What were you aiming to express/capture with this submission?
Jessie Dee: Well, I was expecting to shoot at sunset, so walking outside to a full moon threw me off to say the least. We had shot a few looks inside the studio but nothing really capture the feeling I wanted to get. I know what I like and I’m not happy until I get it. Florida is as flat as a 12 year old boy but right next to my studio happened to be under construction. There was this mound of red clay that looked straight out of Sedona, Arizona! It was perfect. The moon starting peaking out behind it and I told my model, Anna, to start dancing, moving, just to feel the magic of the night. I know the song has an underlying meaning but I wanted to keep it PG and true to my style. I wanted her to look alluring, enchanting and caught in the moment and in my eyes, she portrayed it perfectly!
TH: How did you develop your artistic skills?
Jessie Dee: Once upon a time I was a model and eventually I realized my true love was behind the camera. I had made so many connections during my time in the industry, it seemed like a waste to throw it all away. I loved Makeup and started to develop my skills in that set. I had an amazing opportunity to get critiqued early in my career with some of the best in the industry and they told me I needed to move to a bigger market with better resources or teach myself how to retouch and work with better photographers.
My boyfriend is a Graphic Designer so he helped me with the basics of Photoshop and I started watching tutorials and taught myself. I truly loved Beauty Photography and you pretty much need a studio so we built one in my house. After booking models, putting together shoots, hosting the shoots in my studio and the retouching the photographers photographs at the end, I felt the need for bigger and better things. I had taken Photography in High School (I’m only 23) so I decided to try my hand again. I picked up the camera and haven’t looked back since!
TH: How do you continue to cultivate them?
Jessie Dee: If you read my last answer, you’ve already realized that I’m not happy unless I’m growing, building, learning or creating. I’ve had very little schooling throughout my artistic career so I’m always on the hunt to prove myself. I feel that because I don’t have the degree to back me up, it makes me work harder. None of this was handed to me, I do it because I love it and that’s what keeps me going. Also, I consider myself pretty self sufficient, because I do makeup, hair, styling and photography if I want to have a shoot, I just call up one of my beautiful friends and we just have a play date. I consider myself extremely lucky, I always joke that my job is like playing with life size barbies. It’s every girls dream job and if guys knew how often I end up having to oil girls up, it would be theirs too!
TH: How has your cultural/regional identity influenced your work?
None of this was handed to me, I do it because I love it and that’s what keeps me going.
Jessie Dee: Well, I was born in LA and I can feel it in my blood. One day I’ll end up back there!! I actually moved in with my Grandparents in Orlando, Florida really young and I’m going to be honest and say that there isn’t much culture here but I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel quite often. By the age of 15, I had been to over 35 states and now I’ve been to over a dozen countries. My main objective when traveling is taking in the culture and not only using it in my work but in my everyday life as well. I’d like to think all of the places I’ve been play a part of who I am today. America is just a small part of a big world. Luckily, I’m surrounded by other creative individuals who keep me on my toes. We regularly just put together impromptu shoots to try new things and just shoot for the fun of it. If you lose your love for it, I think it shows in your work.
TH: Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Jessie Dee: I love lurking photos, hoarding them and then putting together storyboards for shoots I want to do in the future. I love vintage, especially anything from the the 20′s to the 70′s but on the flip side, I’m a huge fan of all the current trends too! I like to pull from several things and make it into something of my own. I really pull from anything and everywhere. I know that sounds cliche, but seriously, I could be watching a documentary on space and all I can think about is how cool it would be to have a shoot in the middle of nowhere with the milky way in the background or how cool a sun burst would look in the form of lipstick. Also, I really like to use the person I’m shooting as my inspiration. I really want the person I’m shooting to come across in the photo, I want you to feel like you know who they are just by looking at one photo. After that initial look, I want to take them completely out of their comfort zone and do something they’ve never done before. It always surprises me (and them) how they respond to it, it creates some really interesting results!