selfPortrait meets Canada-based professional photographer Jessica Lichon
Tell us about living in the Okanagan Valley.
It’s a beautiful valley located in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. There are a ton of outdoor activities in the valley. Thanks to living in the Okanagan I have grown into an outdoorsy person. I love outdoor sports, especially independent sports that you can still enjoy with others. From numerous hiking trails with breathtaking views, biking on the infinite KVR trail, longboarding on wide roads, paddleboarding on Okanagan lake on a hot summer’s day, skating on the free icerink in downtown Kelowna, and my favourite, snowboarding in champagne powder, there are an infinite number of ways to enjoy the outdoors all year long.
How does it compare to the city for you?
Cities are wonderfully scary. I always admire the architecture of the city skyline, but I mostly enjoy visiting the city for the variety of delicious restaurants. Living in a massive city would be challenging for me; the lifestyle is completely different, and it just doesn’t suit me at the moment. Not being able to quickly escape into the outdoors would be so foreign to me.
Describe your daily life for us. How does it shift over the seasons?
A couple of years ago my day-to day life was a mixture of school and photography adventures. Since graduating from the University of British Columbia, my life has been a joyful blur. Presently, my day-to-day life is difficult to describe. I don’t have a typical schedule. As a self-employed photographer, I find that my life revolves around the seasons. In the summer months, my focus is on my business. The winter months are a completely different story – business is extremely slow, and my business goal is to attract wedding clients for the summer. Other than that, I’m in the mountains snowboarding on powder days.
What are some of the challenges you face when making your self-portraits?
Here are my top 7 challenges:
1. Creating a concept. I want my concepts to be my own idea, or at least be different in some aspect.
2. Packing for the shoot. Packing everything for the shoot to be lightweight, or at least manageable enough to carry everything around; thinking about the proper costume for the shoot; knowing and preparing for the weather conditions; packing all the essential camera gear. I have on a couple occasions forgotten my tripod plate….those are incredibly frustrating experiences.
3. Scouting a location. A particular location might be wonderful but something else might be more enchanting. Additionally, the lighting and time of day matters.
4. Hiding from the public. I hate being in public visibly taking self-portraits. I have become really good at finding locations that are semi-private with sick views.
5. Self-love. I love myself the majority of the time. My screen cover is a picture of myself…although looking at myself can be difficult at times.
6. Being in focus. This is more of an issue with my winter self-portraits. Trekking in the extreme cold in the snow to then find out my picture is out of focus in the viewfinder…now that’s frustrating!
7. Motivation: The biggest problem is lacking the motivation to go outside to shoot because of the challenges described above.
When you are out in the wilderness taking self-portraits, are you usually working solo?
Yes and no. I have many self-portraits that I’ve taken completely alone in the wilderness. Then I have self-portraits from adventuring in the woods with my photographer friends. There have also been a few times where I needed my boyfriend or my mother to assist me in taking a few pictures.
How has your self-portraiture evolved in the past four years? What first drew you to taking photos of yourself?
Initially, other fine art photographers inspired me to take self-portraits. It was also a good solution to people not being available on demand. My first self-portraits were brutal, and I deleted most of them from the internet. In the beginning, I loved to experiment with Photoshop techniques…I used to stare at my pictures and admire them for way too long. I lost that connection to my images a long time ago, but maybe I’ll find it again.
If you lost all your possessions and you could save one self-portrait of your own, which would It be, and why?
I would have to say End of the dream. I heard about a forest fire happening at Shelter Cove on the radio after school one day; I looked at my backseat and I had everything in my car to take a self-portrait. At the time, I was recovering from my ACL surgery, and had just started walking again without crutches. The conditions were perfect for an incredible sunset and, after setting the tripod in the water, I decided the picture would look best if I got low into the water. I basically almost drowned taking this self-portrait. My knee had limited mobility. A wave pushed me and I raised my arm up to protect my remote trigger from the water, so the photograph looks genuine and beautiful. I honestly love this picture.