Jessica Lehrman

Feb 14th, 2017

Jessica Lehrman

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Jessica Lehrman is a Brooklyn-based photographer best known for her raw visual documentation of contemporary underground movements. From protests and social revolutions to the belly of hip hop’s underground community and its emerging artists, Lehrman is a committed documentarian of the worlds she is impassioned to be a part of.

(how) does social media affect you and your art?

I guess I’d say we have a complicated relationship… positive ways it affects me- I get a lot of work from people finding my instagram through various channels, I get greater exposure and reach for stories than the outlets they are featured in can provide, I am able to discover new exciting artists that inspire me and then reach out and connect with them, I can tangibly see what is popular and trending and contribute to that. But negative ways it affects me: everyone is now a photographer and a lot of jobs go to people based on their followers not their talent or voice, there is a constant air of comparison socially and there is a pressure to participate in the competition in ways that might not be healthy. Constantly watching other people’s careers can unconsciously influences the direction I want to take mine in and I have to be on the lookout and check myself.

Why did you start taking photos?

Because I suck at painting and seem to have some sort of dyslexia when it comes to formulating sentences so photography seems to be the best medium for me to tell stories.

What does the future hold for your work?

I’ve been doing a lot of future visualisation conversations with my friends and boyfriend lately, maybe we’re all at that time in our late 20s where we have to make decisions about where we want to be for this next chapter and who we want to be and what legacy we want to continue creating. I’ve been focusing on who I want to be and the lifestyle I want to live and letting that lead what sort of work I want to create and not the other way around, like I have in the past. When I look into the future of what I want to work on I want to make tangible works be a priority in my projects, be that books, zines, prints, art, or installation. I want to be more physical with the images I create and i’m looking forward to finding creative ways to work on longer, more intimate, more personal, stories about subcultures and individuals passionate about their personal or social revolutions.

Do your parents like your work?

Yes but they also have liked just about every piece of art I’ve made in every medium since I was born… not sure they are very discerning about what I create.

How do you determine if a work has been a success?

Success is such a funny subjective term. I’d say current 2017 me feels that my projects are a success when the people I’ve photographed receive direct, noticeable and positive action from the photographs or if the project allows the people I’ve photographed to be elevated to a platform where they can have their message heard. Or, if in one image I feel like I have completely conveyed a felt experience, emotion, or story, kind of like how certain smells transport you to other worlds, that’s super successful.