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Portrait of an Artist Interview with Jessy Menchaca by Jennifer Bracewell

We are delighted to publish our third Portrait of an Artist interview to this very special column, edited by Jennifer Bracewell. This is a really beautiful interview with the wonderfully warm and creative artist Jessy Menchaca, combined with fabulous images too.

(We also have a dedicated Facebook group set up for this Column too – please join us here. Jennifer regularly adds and contributes to this. In addition we have set up a Flickr Group dedicated to this column. We would like you to send all your portraiture here and we will select images for curation and showcases as well as commentary – this is the Flickr Group link).

Don’t miss this fabulous interview, over to you Jen, (foreword by Joanne Carter).


“Jessy Menchaca is a master of many styles of portraiture. She’s a whiz with Hipstamatic. I love her creative, edited self-portraits, her street photography and lately the beautiful images of her baby Chloe. The love she feels for that little girl is palpable. I have been enjoying Jessy’s fantastic work for a long time now and am very happy that she was willing to share some of herself here with us. Here’s Jessy!

JB: Jennifer
JM: Jessy



‘Hello there’ – ©Jessy Menchaca

JB: What are your earliest memories of photography and/or art?

JM: Photography struck my curiosity during a hiatus I took from Corporate America.  I bought a little Sony camera and began snapping pictures around town.  I knew then I liked photography, but shortly after I had discovered my new hobby, I had to go back to work and photography was placed on a shelf.  My interest in photography took life again when I began using an iPhone.  It simplified things.  The camera wasn’t the best, but it worked!  It became easy for me to snap a shot pretty much anywhere and of anything.

JB: What have you sacrificed for your art?

JM: My security, haha!  Sometimes people glance at me in such a manner that if looks could kill…(it sucks getting busted when taking a street shot).  Only one time have I been confronted by a man in the streets about snapping a picture of him.  He seemed aggravated, but I immediately came clean and told him it was just an innocent hobby, he simmered down and let me be.


‘Ode to Ophelia’ – ©Jessy Menchaca

What is it that appeals so much to you about portraiture?

What appeals to me the most about portraiture is the fact that no matter what, you can always find some type of beauty in it.  Whether it’s the physical beauty of the person or maybe the beauty of their essence.  Emotions always seem to shine through.  I took a picture of a woman one day while on a bus in New York.  She captured my attention because she seemed so tired and sad.  Later on when I looked at the shot I realized I had captured her melancholic state.  Her portrait revealed a sad, untold story.  I’ll never know what was troubling her, but my heart went out to her.

Why do you think mobile photography and portraiture work so well together?

They work well together because of how easy it is to enhance what you managed to capture.  I personally love to use Hipstamatic for portraits because shots taken with Hipstamatic require little to no post processing.


‘Waiting for Chloe’ – ©Jessy Menchaca

Tell me about awards and recognition you’ve received.

The best award I’ve received is the ability of being able to showcase next to some of my personal favorite artists throughout the world.

Which of your own images are you most proud of and why?

My own personal favorite is “Waiting for Chloe”.  I took it on Thanksgiving Day, a self-portrait, in an attempt to capture my huge belly.  I used my iPhone 4S, the headphones to trigger the camera and a towel rack to hold my iPhone in place.  It’s my favorite because not only did I capture my huge belly, but also that special glow that waiting for my baby girl produced.  It’s the portrait I hope my Chloe will one day carry with her, the same way I carry one of my Mother while she was expecting me.


‘Melancholia’ – ©Jessy Menchaca

What have been the high points and low points of your career so far?

The high point I would say is being inspired to travel thanks to all of the wonderful images posted by my mobile photographer friends.  My boyfriend and I have even driven half way across the country just so that I could take pictures in 4 different states!  Photography becomes an escape, and a reason to take those 15-hour road trips instead of that 2-hour flight.

Low points would be those damn creative blocks that occur thanks to real life.  They go away though, but when they occur, they can be so depressing.


‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ – ©Jessy Menchaca

What would you say the biggest myth is about mobile photography?

The biggest and most annoying myth is that mobile photography is NOT real photography.  I get it!   It can be tough to understand for those who make a living off of taking pictures with a huge, expensive camera.  Bottom line is, there’s plenty to capture all around the world.  People shouldn’t get mad about and frown upon mobile photography.  They just need to get “with it” and realize it’s here to stay.

What/whose work of art would you most like to own?

My favorite street photographer is Roger Clay.  He’s got such an eye, it’s enviable.


‘One Touch of His Skin’ – ©Jessy Menchaca

What song would work as the soundtrack to your life?

That’s easy!  The song that best describes my life right now is Beyoncé’s “Roc”…. it goes something like;
“If I wrote a book about where we stand, the title of my book would be “Life with Superman”…”

Yeah, I’m in love and I’m not afraid to show it 🙂

Jennifer Bracewell is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she is a mother, an artist, a photographer, an iPhoneographer, and music lover. Much of Jennifer’s work is an exploration of self and image: the manipulation of self-portraits to bring out elements of humor, angst and beauty. Jennifer’s other works are an eclectic mix of country shots, animals, and captures of ephemeral moments in everyday life. Her images have been featured and displayed at Pixels at an Exhibition where she was featured artist for July, 2011 as well as other sites like Mashable , featured artist on iPhoneogenic in September, 2011, and major iPhoneographic blogs. Her work was recently featured in an article about iPhoneography in the Sydney Morning Herald. her work has been exhibited at the Adobe Shop in San Francisco, the Giorgi Gallery in Berkeley (September 22 – October 30, 2011), ArtsEye Gallery in Tucson in October-November 2011 and was featured at the Stephane Vereecken Gallery in Belgium in November, 2011 through January, 2012, a solo show with another scheduled for July, 2012, and at the SoHo Digital Art Gallery in New York City in December of 2011. Jennifer’s work was included in the iPhoneography Miami 2012 show in January, 2012. Five of Jennifer’s images were selected for display at Miami’s cutting-edge Lunchbox Gallery in their “iPhoneography: Updated Visual Dialogs” show, hanging from March 8 to April 7, 2012. Jennifer also has pieces in gallery shows this April at Orange County Center for Contemporary Arts and a three-month show this spring in San Francisco at the prestigious ArtHaus gallery, and these were recently featured in the San Francisco Examiner and the local CBS News 7.