A talented visual storyteller, that’s how we see Carlijn Jacobs. With her choice in models, styling, location and atmosphere she tells a story that hasn’t been seen before. She likes to take things out of her comfort zone. The perfect picture doesn’t work for her. You have to look twice at her photos and that’s what makes them interesting.
The Amsterdam-based photographer and art director graduated (cum laude) three years ago at the Willem the Kooning Academy, but already knows her way in the fashion industry. She exhibited at the Foam photography museum and her name was in the credits of well-known magazines like Please, i-D, Fucking Young, and Glamcult, just to name a few. And this is only the start of her rising career. We want to know more about this beauty behind the lens.
Looking at your work we feel a mysterious vibe. Like we are on another planet. You play with colours, gravity, surrealist undertones and styling to create a different world. What kind of world is that? Can you tell us more about it?
Hmm, that’s hard to tell. I think somewhere I feel compelled to create something that’s new, that’s not been seen before. I like taking things out of comfort; the pictures I’m most attached to are the least sophisticated. I just love to create atmospheres and stories where I feel drawn to, visualize the things that are in my head for a time.
Your choice of models is different. They all got something that catches your eye, they are fascinating, but aren’t the typical beauty models that we see in most magazines. Can you define the term beauty? What does it mean for you?
I’m not quite sure if I want to define beauty. Maybe it should not be defined. Eventually beauty is something that is utterly subjective. I know that beauty for me is about things that are eccentric and unconventional. This preference is also reflected in the models that I choose. They all have something outlandish around them and that makes them special. They have faces that you will remember even five years later. I like to create an atmosphere around the character that I am working with. To me the conventional, the common perception of beauty is boring. However I don’t think about it too much; I just feel attracted to certain kinds of people and I follow my instincts.
You dare to expose imperfections in a world where everybody only wants to show the perfect side of their life. The dream world of Instagram, the perfect bodies in magazines, the jet set life of models and of course the glitter and glamour world of the fashion industry. It seems that you are fighting against that. Can you tell us more about the statement you are making?
It’s not that I really fight against the glamour world and the jet set life. I mean, don’t we all love it? I do! It’s more like I enjoy playing with it and adding my own spin to it. I want to make it interesting by not highlighting things in the conventional way. Again, I follow my creative instincts and my gut feeling, and I try to express that as clear as possible. And to be honest with you I am not really making some sort of socio-political statement. I am simply aiming to express my creative visions and I feel like I am better in expressing myself visually through my work instead of through verbally or written words. I am intrigued to explore and push my own aesthetic.
Does this make it harder for you to compete with other photographers who abide by the rules in this business?
In fact I think it’s quite the opposite. I find it freeing to work in this way. It’s about creative integrity. I try to stay true to what I like and what I am inspired by instead of constantly being in search of the latest trends in fashion photography.
Your background in styling and lifestyle helps you to give your work a progressive and fashion-oriented touch. Despite that your imagery is mainly focused on fashion you always give it an extraordinary twist. When you look at your work you sometimes have the feeling that it doesn’t fit, that it isn’t right. What is the reason you choose to express fashion like that?
A perfect picture is boring for me, I just love estrangement and the feeling that something isn’t correct. Something that will make you look twice at an image and give you a somewhat undefined kind of feeling.
You shoot conceptual stories instead of just classic fashion editorials. Is there a main message you want to spread with your work?
I really love creating characters. It’s about choosing and brainstorming about the type, the location, the style, the props, the culture, the atmosphere; everything! It’s like making little movies. That’s why every message is different in every series.