JRP: Monique Jaques is a talented photojournalist whose work I’ve recently discovered. Please welcome her to James Robinson Photography Blog. Thank you Monique for sharing a few moments with us. Where do you call home?
Monique Jaques: I was born in New Jersey. I moved to New York shortly after and call the North East home although I’ve lived in Istanbul for three years and consider myself a resident here.
JRP: What led you to photojournalism and do you have any formal training?
Monique Jaques: I’ve always been obsessed with news and the impact it has on the viewer. I’ve always been interested in Broadcast News but find that photography suits me better. I was trained at New York University’s Photography and Imaging studies department. Which is a formal study in the history, development and engineering behind photography as well as the art of it.
JRP: Name one thing about being a photojournalist that you were unaware of when you began your career.
Monique Jaques: Well frankly everything! I always thought it was all about the photograph but it’s so much more than that. I learned the art of photography in a very controlled environment. The shock was moving that art to an uncontrolled environment. In Afghanistan, Egypt or Libya, I can’t control anything but the image. The logistics as well as the safety of the situation are always a variable.
JRP: What would I find in your camera bag for a typical assignment or shoot?
Monique Jaques: Besides camera’s, I think of myself as a Boy Scout prepared for anything. My work days can extend much longer than the typical studio photographer. For instance In Egypt we worked 19 hour days in Tahrir Square.
I carry granola bars, a swiss army knife, contact case (I’m so blind and you never know when you have to sleep somewhere), wet wipes, toothbrush, gaffers tape. Water, antibacterial gel, a travel sewing kit. That’s just for standard assignments. In places like Libya my kit encompassed a first aid kit, radio’s, extra batteries, satellite phones, and body armor. You never know what you’re going to need and you always need to be ready.
Camera wise I only carry one body. Most photographers carry two but it’s too bulky for me. I use a 50mm and 35 mm lens regularly as well as the occasional 28-72 zoom lens.
JRP: Is there one lens that you have come to depend on or just can’t do without and why?
Monique Jaques: I can’t do without a 35mm 1.4 Nikkor fixed lens. I love how wide it is, but also versatile in all shooting conditions.
JRP: Do you spend a lot of time processing images? Could you please describe your digital work flow and the software you use.
Monique Jaques: If you’re shooting news there’s not much time to process images before filing. I use Adobe Lightroom and love it. The organization of files is amazingly helpful when you have to go back and re-correct originals.
JRP: Do you make use of a lot of custom white balances when you shoot?
Monique Jaques: No
JRP: Image printing, how do you handle that?
Monique Jaques: I have a printer in Istanbul that prints my work.
JRP: In your opinion what is the most critical moment in the capture of an image?
Monique Jaques: The action and the emotion is what you are attempting to capture and is what makes an image compelling.
JRP: Do you have any projects you are currently working on?
Monique Jaques: I’m always working on projects dealing with Women’s issues in the Middle East and particularly in terms of post-conflict development. I’ll be working in Egypt for the foreseeable future.
JRP: If not photography what would Monique Jaques be doing with her time?
Monique Jaques: Being a photographer is full-time. I read magazines and journals to research stories I am shooting or plan on shooting. I’m also an avid runner.
JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Monique Jaques: My very good friend and role model taught me to expect the worst but be prepared for anything. Capturing images is only a small part of the job. An amazing photographer who doesn’t know how to work in the field, make contacts, and get access won’t produce a compelling story. It’s the rest of it that makes you into a journalist.
JRP: What advice would you share with other photographers starting out?
Monique Jaques: Make mistakes but learn from them. Always have a camera on you, and be prepared to work every day, tirelessly for years.
JRP: Thank you Monique for sharing your thoughts and images with us. It has been a pleasure talking with you. I wish you continued success.
Monique Jaques: Thank you James for talking to me!
JRP: To view more of Monique Jaques’ photography please follow these links: