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The Questionnaire : Jessica Roark par Carole Schmitz


Jessica Roark : The Little Mermaid.

Originally from the Midwest, she could have been a mermaid in another life.

Bold and fascinated by water, which for Jessica Roark is the only element in which we are free to move, act and express ourselves in complete authenticity. Water also allows us to dance as if no one were watching, away from everything that often constrains us. What’s more, water brings peace and calm; it’s a natural space where everyone can disappear, if only for a moment. Water achieves what mankind has been unable to achieve: equality.

Inspired by fashion, music, color and the play of light, Jessica works in water to create movement and natural energy, using a variety of underwater cameras to achieve her desired results. Her images are captivating, allowing viewers to lose themselves in a space of peace and excitement. Her works are produced in limited editions. Each image is printed with archival pigment inks that greatly enhance their visual brilliance in both color and black & white.


Instagram :


Your first photographic trigger ?
Jessica Roark : ENERGY, movement, passion, emotion….but the common denominator is energy.

The man or woman of image who inspires you?
Jessica Roark : Iris Apfel, she  inspired women to unapologetically keep doing what they love regardless of age…and damn, she was a vibe.
Michelle Obama, she inspires me to be strong but kind, edgy but soft.
My Grandma- She stood for equality and women’s rights before it was deemed acceptable. She took zero shits from anyone but loved people otherwise with her whole heart.

The image you would have liked to take?
Jessica Roark : My Grandfather was a secret service agent who helped protect US Presidents for his career…he was assigned a photographer who captured his service and relationship to the Presidents over the many years he served (many of which I have inherited).  If i could take any photo, it would be ANY one of the photographs taken of him. Because had I been the photographer, I would have been able to connect with him and know him.  He died when I was young and I am left with so many questions.

The one that moved you the most?
Jessica Roark : While in Paris, I visited the “History of Photography” exhibit at the Centre du Pompidou.  One of the first photographs displayed in the exhibit was “Slavic Mother, Ellis Island, vers 1905” by Lewis Hine.  The portrait is of a woman landing on Ellis Island, alone, carrying her entire life on her back…she looks so incredibly determined to succeed and yet she has no freedoms in her favor. I connect with her angst and determination…  seeing her portrait brought me to tears immediately.

And the one that made you angry?
Jessica Roark : Same exhibit…a portrait titled “Sara, The Only Flowers of Her Childhood, Warsaw 1939 by Roman Vishniac.
The portrait shows a child in a bed, unsettled and fearful…her world has been turned upside down by WWII.  There is a mural of flowers painted on the wall behind her.
It  makes me outraged for the ways hatred and war effects the young.

A key image in your personal pantheon?
Jessica Roark : I can’t think of just one, but I love all of the photojournalistic works by Gordan Parks.

A photographic memory from your childhood?
Jessica Roark : I have a picture of me, less than 2 years old, riding on the back of my dad’s bicycle…it was something we did together often.  I remember feeling, for the first time, what adventure felt like- the wind blowing in my hair, biking faster than I had ever experienced, the feelings of danger…but fully trusting that my dad would keep me safe during this otherwise exhilarating ride.

According to you, what is the necessary quality to be a good photographer?
Jessica Roark : To genuinely connect with your subject matter, knowing that the portrait will never be authentic if connection isn’t established first.  The lighting, focus, composition is just the extra.

The secret of the perfect image, if it exists?
Jessica Roark : To tell a story, but not the whole story, keeping the viewer curious.

The person you would like to photograph?
Jessica Roark : I’d REALLY like to photograph Taylor Swift (I  know, it’s an American thing) underwater.  I’m inspired by her authenticity, song writing, and work ethic.

An indispensable photo book?
Jessica Roark : Annie Lebovitz, A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005

The camera of your childhood?
Jessica Roark : Almost always a disposable one 🙂

The one you use today?
Jessica Roark : Nikon Z9 and Nikon D850

How would you describe your creative process?
Jessica Roark : Generally my process is very unforced, full of play and exploration, sometimes accidental,  and very accepting to the possiblity of failure. I welcome the idea that creativity  is a process and failure plays a huge part in that.

An upcoming project that’s close to your heart?
Jessica Roark : I am currently focused on creating a collection of fine art that  explores the provocative nature of smoke, breaking the demonizing stereotypes associated with smoke/smoking/TCH/nicotine and revisiting smoke as a beautiful abstract subject.

Your favorite drug?
Jessica Roark : I suppose the respectable thing to say is that “love” is the best drug, but in all honesty, I actualy love drugs…sugar, caffeine, alcohol, aderall, THC, mushrooms.  But if I had to pick one, I’d pick TCH (unless I needed to get things done, in which case I’d choose Aderall).

The best way to disconnect for you ?
Jessica Roark : Painting.  As a side lover to photographing, I paint with oils and I get lost in the colors and textures. Time doesn’t exist when I paint. 

What is your relationship with the image ?
Jessica Roark : I have mad respect for the image…for it was created and shared with bravery.

Who would you like to be photographed by ?
Jessica Roark : Richard Avedon

How would you describe your personality?
Jessica Roark : Bizarrely naive and regretfully unwilling to change that.

Your latest folly?
Jessica Roark : hmmmm…how honest do we get here?  I would say my current folly has been demise of my marriage…a  sad but necessary part of my journey.

An image to illustrate a new banknote?
Jessica Roark : A globe.  Travelling is top priority.

The job you would not have liked to do ?
Jessica Roark : An accountant. gross.

Your greatest professional extravagance?
Jessica Roark : My most surreal professional moment was when I applied to a fine art gallery with my underwater fine art work, and within minutes, was accepted.  What a dream that was.

What question gets you off track?
Jessica Roark : When people say…“I know you have these ideas, but logistically, how do you plan to do that?”

The city, the country or the culture you dream of discovering?
Jessica Roark : Copenhagen

The place you never get tired of ?
Jessica Roark : Paris.

Your biggest regret ?
Jessica Roark : Letting guilt/shame dictate my life’s decisions.

In terms of social networks, are you more into Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok or Snapchat and why?
Jessica Roark : Insta for business, tik tok or snap for personal. Why even with Facebook anymore- am I right?

Color or B&W?
Jessica Roark : 9/10 times I choose color. The frequency and energy in a color image steals my heart almost every time.

Daylight or artificial light?
Jessica Roark : Daylight is such a babe and artificial light is such a bitch.  I like them both but defer to daylight.

Which city do you think is the most photogenic?
Jessica Roark : In the US, San Deigo and LA…internationally, Paris.

If God existed would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?
Jessica Roark : Selfie I suppose? I’d be too overwhelmed/nervous to take the portrait.

If I could organize your ideal dinner party, who would be at the table?
Jessica Roark : The people in my life who let me be fully me and don’t expect me to be or act any other way.  We’d eat and drink…maybe do a little drugs…and then laugh, tell stories and DANCE until sunrise.

What is missing in today’s world?
Jessica Roark : Empathy.

If you had to start all over again?
Jessica Roark : I would have had more sex.

What do you like people to say about you?
Jessica Roark : That I am brave.

The one thing you absolutely must know about yourself?
Jessica Roark : To know that I am capable.

A last word ?
Jessica Roark : Love others even when they don’t love you.

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