Client Stories: A talk with the fashion photographer and high-end retoucher, Dawn Marie Jones
Dawn Marie Jones calls herself a creative photographer and high-end retoucher. Based in London, she is a renowned name in the photography and fashion scene. Alongside shooting amazing pictures, she is also a sustainability advocate, choosing to work with sustainable and ethical brands.
Dawn Marie never really thought that she would become a photographer until she was 25 when photography found her. After working, owning a property agency in Greece, and developing a business in Bulgaria, Dawn decided that it was time for a significant change in her life. She took a suitcase and moved to Edinburgh, seeking to establish a new (and exciting) chapter in her life — photography.
Having assisted many renowned photographers in the UK and US, Dawn Marie has intense experience in the fashion and advertising industry as a photographer. While traveling for photoshoots and meeting different people and projects, she developed her passion for sustainability, which is why she has been working for the last two years with the charity Fashion For Conversation.
Dawn Marie joined RYDE in 2020 to be able to keep track of her image’s footprint online. We had an inspiring talk with her about photography, fashion, sustainability, and infringement online.
Your main photography focus is fashion and beauty. What came first for you — your interest in photography or for fashion?
Actually, photography is my second career/life & fashion was not really a huge interest before I started shooting. My interest in photography developed over time after my dad gave me his old camera when I was 25. When I lived in Greece and ran a property agency, I always found myself wanting to do creative things & carried my little camera everywhere! From Greece, I moved to Bulgaria to work for a development company at the height of the property boom. I met my fiancé & business partner Stan at the time, who was running photography studios on the coast & that really started me on the path to becoming a photographer. In 2008, the markets crashed, I decided it was time for a change. We moved to Edinburgh & enrolled in a photography course, which resulted in my getting a BA with distinction. My love o shooting fashion & beauty developed from shooting different briefs & experiencing the beauty & creativity of working with teams & creating magic!
Fashion photography is a very competitive field. How did your journey in the industry start?
Stan and I set up Stoyanov & Jones Photography while studying in Edinburgh. Through networking & reaching out, we managed to work with some established creatives & brands in Scotland, so I would say it was an advantage, starting in a smaller city. During my graduate exhibition in London, I also met & reached out to photographer Perou and assisted him from time to time. Through continued assisting work, I became 1st assistant to Kai Z Feng & assisted many other fantastic fashion photographers, which gave me insight into the industry and made connections and learning from some of the best in the business.
You have been working on sustainability projects as a photographer. How did this passion kick-off, and how can photography support it?
Yes, I’ve always been drawn to supporting smaller brands, small businesses, sustainability & ethical practices. When I was approached by Fashion for Conservation in 2018 to shoot some projects for them in the Peruvian jungle, I jumped at the chance! From there, I learned more about the need to develop more sustainable practices & for more transparency and accountability within the fashion industry and others. My passion is to support these businesses and organisations in any way I can. I have donated my time & experience for many projects promoting these values. I always aim to be flexible and accommodating when working with smaller, sustainable businesses to help them to create top-quality content & grow their businesses further.
Peruvian culture and the Amazon forest have an important role in your career. Can you tell us a little bit more about it and how did this connection start?
I explained a bit about this above. The connection started while working with Fashion for Conservation at LFW, and I was invited to shoot some content for them in the Amazon. I was absolutely blown away by the whole experience. It was really life-changing & I wanted to do more to support the team out there in Hoja Nueva and the work being done by Fashion for Conservation to promote sustainability and responsible practices in the Fashion industry globally. Peruvian culture is so vibrant, friendly, and rich. It does draw you in & take you on a journey into some of the humanities’ most ancient roots. The situation over the past 12 months has curtailed our latest project for the time being, but we are still in contact, and I’m sure we will be continuing in the near future.
Apart from shooting the images yourself, you are also a retoucher. How do you perceive the ongoing digitalization in the photography industry?
Yes, I was lucky enough to have been given a very hands-on education at Edinburgh College & we had some excellent training in retouching. This was something I enjoyed and developed along the way. I think it is an inevitable part of the process, through the commercial landscape of photography & content creation. Still, I do think there will always be a place for the traditional methods, especially within fashion & the arts.
Have you ever experienced any unlicensed image use online? How did you deal with it?
So many times! It’s not something I’ve really dealt with myself, to be honest, so signing up with RYDE has been such a weight lifted! These situations can often be very difficult to deal with, as you may have a relationship which you don’t want to risk or just not want to be involved with a conflict either. So, taking a step back and allowing RYDE to handle this aspect has been fantastic. I’ve already won several cases, which I simply would never have pursued or probably even known about without them keeping track!
What tips would you give to a photographer just starting their career?
There are different routes in, and everyone is different. For me, without a doubt, assisting is the gold that you will never get from any course.
Through assisting, you will learn how the industry works, all the small details of how to produce & manage on a high-level shoot, and on top of that, everyone is different, and there is ALWAYS something new to learn & experience.
The photography industry is still mainly dominated by men. The Royal Photographic Society, from the UK, has shared that only 25% of their members are female. Did you face any difficulties when entering the market?
Certainly, there is still a barrier to women in the industry and particularly in the assisting world. Things are changing, but unfortunately, I have experienced being treated differently by male colleagues, and for sure, there is a disparity in rates. I think there is an assumption that women are ‘less techy’ than men, and perhaps that has something to do with it. I guess there are many possible reasons, but all we can do is our best and not allow doubts or discrimination to stop us from achieving our goals — that goes for everyone, not just women.
We are entering International Women’s Day month. What other female photographers you wish everyone knew about?
A very talented friend of mine took her own life recently, after a tough battle with cancer. She was such a bright spark, an incredible talent, and she was on her way to great success. I would love to show the world her beautiful work and talent. Caylee Hankins @alittlepickmeup
#14Questions with Dawn Marie Jones
Dawn Marie Jones is a very open-minded and inspiring photographer; therefore, we were much excited to play this 14 questions game with her and see her answers. Check it out!
Captures a moment
Communicates beyond words
6. Perfect Shot
7. A Place
8. A Song
9. A Book
The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein
10. A motto
Live for today
11. A food