“I feel like it’s an important part of what I would like to try and share, the people that make that place what it is and make it interesting.” – Jenny Anderson
It was a chance moment; you could have waited all day for just the right moment to never arise. But on a trip to the Taj Mahal, Jenny Anderson lifted her camera at that precise moment as a group of Indian women walked through an archway in full traditional dress, framing both them and the Taj Mahal in the background. Incidentally, this photo was captured on Jenny’s back-up camera – her ‘just-in-case’ camera – and turns out to be one of her favourite shots she has captured to this day.
For most, travelling to a different country is a time to eat good food, shop, see the sights and, of course, fill up their camera or phone with the obligatory pictures of them at these sights. For Jenny it’s much more than that; it’s an opportunity to capture the essence of the locations she visits and the people that breathe life into them.
Portraiture is Jenny’s calling, her main photography love. Recounting a trip to Australia, she explains how she travelled the East coast and worked in South Australia. Working here offered the chance to get to know the community, put Jenny at ease when it came to approaching people for pictures and, most importantly, learn individuals’ personalities for capturing just the right photograph. “I think once you stay somewhere for a longer period of time, you get a different sense for it because you know the community, and you know the people, and it changes the way you see the place you are.” Due to this inside opportunity, the series of portraits from this trip still remains one of Jenny’s favourites in her portfolio.
But looking back on this time didn’t come without a slight sting. With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, a planned trip to Australia – this time to the west coast – could no longer happen with Australia closing their borders the day before Jenny’s flight. The trip was to be filled with exploring the coast and unsealed roads in a 4×4 with a roof tent, along with “camping, taking pictures, chilling out, and drinking wine.” There was even the toying of an idea that would have made Jenny confront one of her fears: diving with whale sharks. “I’m actually a little bit scared of really deep water, so it was a total ballsy move to be like: ‘let’s just do that.’ I really want to do it!” She had even looked into getting a dome for her camera so she could capture the magnificent creatures. What amazing pictures that would have made!
And Jenny never stops planning. It’s a question that many of us have thought at one point: if money was no obstacle, where would we want to be? For Jenny, the list is non-exhaustive which makes it difficult to pin down an answer, but there were two places that came to mind and both of which were too hard to choose between.
Firstly, a trip around South America would be a dream, staying in some nice hotels instead of camping and backpacking. “I would like to stay in hotels and get slightly nicer buses. A lot of the time backpacking is good fun and you end up having better experiences doing it that way, but sometimes it’s just nice to have the comfort and a nice room to sleep in at night.”
Travelling around Africa also tops the list -although where exactly is yet to be decided. There would be a safari and lots of exploring as she says: “there’s so many places that I feel aren’t seen or really talked about.”
I guess the allure of places not often known or shrouded in a little mystery comes from one of Jenny’s main influences. “Steve McCurry, he’s probably my favourite photographer ever. He’s all travel portraits and has taken a lot of pictures for National Geographic that you will probably recognise.” When you listen to Jenny talk about the photographs she likes to capture herself, then the passion she talks with about McCurry’s images, it is clear why he would be such a strong influence. The lengths that McCurry would go to for the perfect photo, such as getting behind enemy lines in civil war torn countries, inspire Jenny, although she states she would never do that.
A second strong influence, dubbed by Jenny as ‘the modern day Steve McCurry’, is Dutch photographer Pie Aerts. Talking highly of one project, “He went and stayed with a tribe in New Guinea who live completely off the grid, he just does all this incredible stuff.”
Jenny’s photography journey began at 12 – growing up in Stonehaven, Scotland – when she received her first point-and-shoot camera. Excited, she began taking pictures of flowers, bumblebees and the horses when her dad took her to the annual Highland Show. From there the love of photography grew, along came Jenny’s first SLR camera and the opportunity to learn how to use it properly with Kyle Hamilton and Louise Kerr of Hamilton Kerr in Kirriemuir.
Now Jenny’s talent speaks for itself through her photography work as she travels the world capturing moments perfectly. But what does the future hold for our intrepid young photographer? Lots more travel and hopefully some coffee table books. Watch this space world.
A snapshot of Jenny’s equipment: Nikon D810 (main body), Nikon D750 (secondary body), Nikon F-601 (film camera), Sony A6000 (‘just in case’ body), Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2 (everything lens), Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 (portrait go to), Sigma Contemporary 150-600mm (telephoto), Nikon 50mm f/1.8 (I use this for my film camera), Urth filters, PeakDesign camera clips, PeakDesign aluminium travel tripod.