By Published on November 22, 2019

Jennifer Haggerty is an NYC photographer specializing in alternative fashion, fetish, fantasy and portraiture.

FETFAN: How did you get started and how long have you been in the industry?

Jennifer: My career in photography began when I was 18 but it started long before that when I fell in love with art and imagery at the tender age of 8. I was working with my classmates one our macaroni and glitter art in elementary school, my mother recalls me coming home one day proclaiming that I was going to be an artist.

The fervent passion I show my photography today was reached at the age of 12 when I began sketching celebrity portraits from magazines. Over and over I would sketch this face and that face, I worked from the skull to editorial makeup application in color pencils and acrylic paint. These portraits evolved into landscapes, surrealistic pieces and there was time where I worked heavily on politically colorful pieces. Sold a few while still in middle school.

The digital camera was introduced to our home in 2001 but it wasn't until 2003 when I took it to the local graveyard and spent the next 2 days photographing tombstones, foliage and Crow-inspired portraits of my good friend Cherise. Since that weekend I've been attached to the camera. I had to battle with my senior AP art teacher in using the medium for my portfolio, it was still a time when film was the only recognized and approved format for art photography. It was the only art class I walked away with a C.

I took my passion for digital photography to the University of South Carolina. Film was still the heavy contender but digital imagery was starting to become more mainstream and a few classes were made available. I thoroughly enjoyed my film photography classes and greatly appreciate the tools available to me, but I mainly utilize my DSLR.

Upon graduating, I took my portfolio of cemetery shots and home portraits to New York City where I dived headfirst into fashion and editorial imagery. There was a rocky start to it but I am a fast learner. I quickly picked up on what magazines did and did not want. I've worked with several starter magazines as we gained our footing and understanding of the industry. It was a blast!

Lately, I've cycled back to focusing primarily on fine art photography and I'm working on a new series I believe FETFAN will appreciate. CARNAGE is a nude series that focuses on the primal urges of man and how these intense emotions are conveyed with form. It's going to be delicious.

I am not finished with fashion, lifestyle or portraiture. Not by any means. My craft is constantly evolving and as life is a circle so is the art of photography and subject matter. I will not declare myself this kind of photographer or that. There are many facets to one's psyche and I apply that in my approach to my passion.

FETFAN: Your choice of genre is out of the box and definitely not mainstream, how did you decide or discover this side of you as a model?

Jennifer: I studied faces and anatomy first with my drawing. Color, light/shadow and depth with painting. I combined all of my learning from utilizing the previous mediums with photography. There was another area I studied diligently and continue to do so; the history of art. I studied the first paintings uncovered to the latest era of contemporary art and maintain a knowledge base of what is released present day. The Middle Ages-Realism produced some of my most favorite works and styles, these times truly produced masters of the classical arts. I feel such a strong connection with these styles that I seek to pay homage with my own technique.

Often times I am told my photographs resemble paintings more-so than images. It is not a matter a heavy hand in Photoshop, a viewer would discover that I don't utilize many of the tools within the program and my personal mantra is the minimalist's approach "less is more", though I recognize that many of my works appear dramatically altered from reality. It's a trick. A trick of the lighting and a trick of select color alteration.

I can say that were you to put my images next to that of a lifestyle photographer or commercial photographer it would not blend seamlessly, my work is certainly not "mainstream." Quite possibly I am far more like the master artist Picasso than our work would relate. Surely one would not look at my image and say "This is the cubist style of Picasso!", rather it is our approach to our subject matter. I COULD make a perfectly composed and properly exposed black and white portrait of a smiling face, I'd make a decent living from portrait work to be sure. I know I can do it and have done it, now I'm concerned about pushing those limits with technique and contextual approach.

Why do the mainstream thing when you could have so much more fun with the fear of the unknown and thrill of discovering something new?

FETFAN: Throughout your career I'm sure you have been to many different places, which has been your favorite and what kind of project were you working on?

Jennifer: Geographically speaking, I've gotten around. My father was in the military, I was born in the US but shortly after was relocated to Germany where I lived for 16 years. We had a 2 year block in which we lived in the states. It was during my sophomore and junior years and it was awful. It was a time of great turmoil and depression for me and I learned very quickly how to be self sustaining and not require a clique or group of friends to get through the school day. I became very comfortable with living and being alone. A great positive to this lonely and stressful time, I produced a lot of great art! I entered contests -even won a few- sold some more work here and there. Mostly the time was spent learning my tools and becoming more proficient with my craft.

After high school (my senior year was completed in Germany), I relocated back to the US to pursue a degree in the arts. It was another stressful time in adapting to an unknown territory and blending in, I was considered a foreigner for a long time and in the South there are still stereotypes that are acted on in select places. The people were very friendly for the most part, but there wasn't a sense of community or "home". Degree in hand, I made the big move to NYC and it definitely impacted my work. Since arriving in NYC, I've seen a dramatic improvement in my work and I know it can only keep going up with such outstanding access to designers, models and makeup and hair artists. I'll admit, the wanderlust grabbed hold of me and I was struggling with staying in one place but in doing so I could focus more on the context of my work as opposed to pushing for technique.

FETFAN: Is there anyone who has inspired your work?

Jennifer: There are many people who inspired my work. From the master painters of the Renaissance to the owner of the corner store I see daily. I never let an opportunity for inspiration slip from me and people are the greatest source for creativity and information that could influence a project or piece!

FETFAN: When at a photoshoot, what do you love most about the experience and what do you find challenging as an artist?

Jennifer: I've dedicated my life to the image, there isn't a moment of a photo-shoot that I don't enjoy! Well, maybe when the coffee runs out... the coffee should NEVER run out. I enjoy the concept creation, selecting team members who I know will be both passionate about the concept and dedicated to their craft, executing the shoot, reviewing images and making selection, editing them and seeing the final print. It's a wonderful sense of self and personal accomplish to see the final printed image. I specify 'print' because were you to compare one of my images on the monitor with a print you would see the life that springs forth is doubled or even tripled on paper.

**As a challenge to digital artists who have not done so, print your works and test it with different paper types. When you find the type that sings with your work (my own is matte finish 300 gsm) your life will be changed, I guarantee it!**

I would say, the greatest challenge I face is fear of my personal failure. There is a voice in my head that sounds like me and it tells me that I might botch this next shoot. That anything that can go wrong will go wrong and as the authority on a set I will answer for my failure. Do mistakes happen? Absolutely. Is every artist at risk of botching the job? They are. What can we do to avoid it? Trust yourself. Trust yourself and trust your craft. When you've dedicated yourself to learning something and recognize that with all you know there's still more to be learned and discover you will account for mistakes and fall back on your experience and skill. If something new doesn't work, stick with what you know until you can make it work!

FETFAN: How would you best describe yourself using just 3 words?

Jennifer: A true Aries.

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