Some photographers travel to faraway places or put themselves in extreme situations to get up close with the extraordinary. Not Jennilee Marigomen. Her passion lies in investigating everyday phenomena in search of beauty in our ordinary surroundings.
“My work is about evoking a visceral feeling. I think that a lot of my photos capture a familiar, yet specific truth that is common to everyone. Something that you can look back to and feel at that moment in time, everywhere and everyday.”
But with a focus on the “ordinary”, how does one go about finding the inspiration that comes through so significantly in the final photo? Jennilee says she finds motivation in the ability to exercise awareness through her senses: “Getting lost in experiencing and reveling in my environment is as fulfilling to me as the finished product.”
She often goes on walks with her camera, just listening to music as a way of getting in-tune with the surroundings. Being completely immersed in the moment allows her to discover and appreciate the little things that people may not notice when they are too busy on their phones, or having a million conflicting thoughts running through their heads.
Jennilee describes her style as “quiet, aware and unassuming”, yet “intimate and distant” at the same time. She is drawn towards the subtleties and displacements within nature and urban environments - something, she believes, is very evident in her hometown of Vancouver.
“Vancouver is a place where there is an ongoing tension between urbanity and natural intervention and vice versa. It has a mix of seriousness and humor that I try to capture.”
Natural light plays an important role in her work, another thing she believes in is the characteristic of her hometown: “Because the days are shorter here, the light is always shifting. There will be times where I will see the light hitting something perfectly outside of my house, I go inside to grab my camera, and come back out to see that the light is gone. The moment is lost. That feeling makes light feel precious.”
From an early age, Jennilee has been captivated by the quality of real film photography. In high school, she was given a 35mm Nikon camera and promptly joined a photo club where she learned how to develop her own film. With her passion for the immersive, it is not surprising that she fell in love with the serenity of the dark room and the process in which the images slowly appear on paper under the developer.
“Through the darkness, the radio was playing softly as a backdrop to the noise of a fan drying the negatives, the splashing of the developing fluid, and the occasional buzzing of the timer,” she reminiscences.
Fast forward to the present, her passion for film is one of the driving elements that has allowed her to stand out and gain recognition as a photographer. Photo editors from all over the world have appreciated her passion for being attentive to details. Her work, shot mostly on a Nikon F4 35mm SLR with a 50mm f1.8 lens, has been featured in prestigious titles such as Inventory, GQ, Nowness, Hypebeast and Wallpaper.
Jennilee wants you to feel something visceral when viewing her work. Her images embrace a certain kind of ambiguity and leave room for interpretation. “I feel that my work is more about observation and reflection, rather than imposing an idea.”
She recites a quote by fellow photographer Uta Barth: “I am interested in getting you to engage in looking rather than losing your attention to thoughts about what you are looking at. Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees...”
© Jennilee Marigomen