Jane McLeish-Kelsey

By Jaclyn Bethany

Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Jane! Where did you grow up, and where are you currently based?
Jane McLeish-Kelsey:
I am originally from Australia. I came to London when I was 18 and I got a job as a second assistant in a studio that happened to be above John Galliano. I started testing models he knew in his clothes. I never looked back.

JB: As a photographer, you’ve shot for some inspiring publications (e.g. Lula, Violet, Russh). How do you choose your subjects?
JM-K: Casting has always been the biggest thing. For me, it’s more about the girl than the fashion. When I started I was crazy about finding new faces and working with them for long periods of time. Things have changed now—if you find a girl you love, suddenly she does a big magazine and is not available for anything else. Everyone is just obsessed with the new—no one has long attention spans anymore. I still try to work with the same girls over and over. I build up a relationship with them over time and when we work together, it’s such a joy; everyone is super relaxed and we just work toward [creating] beautiful images. I don’t like posed pictures, I just care about capturing them. Girls like Erika Wall and Giedre, I have worked with from when they first started to now, some 15 years later. Both of them were on the catwalk this season, as well.

For me, it’s more about the girl than the fashion.
web _MG_7517.jpg

JB: How do you feel about being a woman in the arts in today's changing political and social climate?
JM-K: For me, I have never felt any difference between being a man or woman doing my job. But when I started, it was hard to get a job as an assistant, as it was definitely thought of as a man’s job. But it just made me go out and take pictures and build my portfolio. I think the fact that I was a woman helped me, as my work captured a natural, feminine style that not a lot of people were doing at the time There were also not as many women photographers as there are now.

JB: When did you first pick up a camera?
JM-K: I got my second assistant job purely by chance, as I had no experience at all. I was 19 at the time. I just had the most wonderful boss in the world who encouraged me. He told me to buy a Nikon and to just go for it. He had a darkroom in the studio and I just used to live in there. I loved it so much. The guy I assisted was a still-life photographer, but I soon realized I was only interested in fashion and people. ★

Jane McLeish-Kelsey is a London-based photographer. Her sun-drenched work has been featured in publications such as the British and Australian editions of Vogue, Violet, Vanity Fair, Exit, Lula, Dazed and Confused, Russh, InStyle, and Elle. She is particularly well- known for her portrait work, having shot such iconic women as Jane Birkin and Sam Taylor Wood.

All photos courtesy of Jane McLeish-Kelsey.