We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Rubio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, what are you inspired by?
Early in my career I obsessively studied magazines; when I got my first job at a photography studio in 2004 there was no social media to glean information from. I figured out lighting methods and poses by studying portraits and editorials in magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. It wasn’t until I knew how to harness light, master my equipment, and coach my clients before I got to successfully flex my creative muscles. Now that I’ve got technique covered, I can move more intuitively through my shoots. I simply have more bandwidth for inspiration and spontaneity. I can show up on location, having never been there before in my life, and find compositions, lighting, mood; essentially creating a set out of what’s available. Architecture, an outfit, someone’s “vibe” or look, a song, the way a person moves, light and shadow are examples of what’s inspired me while shooting. Beyond my career, I think being a naturally curious person and putting myself out into the world, living intentionally, and pursuing a depth and breadth of experiences creates a deeper well for me to draw inspiration.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My personal life has definitely informed the decisions I’ve made in my professional life. I knew I wanted to be a photographer, but when I was 29 my husband died suddenly and I was faced with raising my then two year old son, Ronin, alone. The security of a salary was an attractive prospect, but the inflexibility of working in corporate America just wasn’t going to allow me to be present in the ways that Ronin needed. Family aside, I realized how short life could be. There was no way I could dedicate hours, days, weeks, and years to work that wasn’t intrinsically fulfilling. My time became a very precious commodity overnight, and since then I am much more intentional about how I spend it. At a photoshoot I get the privilege of witnessing people in their vulnerability, and then reflecting back at them images of themselves that they’re proud of and connect with. After every session, my body might be tired but I’m absolutely energized by the experience! That artist’s high and getting to co-create with so many interesting, beautiful, wildly different people is just incomparable to life in a cubicle under flickering fluorescent lights. Ronin and I may not be living a luxurious lifestyle whatsoever, but he sees that I enjoy my job. I think us parents want our kids to learn how to make choices that bring them happiness as adults, and modeling that life is the very best way to teach them. I’m also extremely passionate about photographing women, specifically. It’s what I’m best at, and I’m gradually shifting the majority of my business to be geared towards female empowerment. We’re bombarded with images of ideals–attainable and not. I think as a woman it takes work and the affirmation of great people in our lives feel comfortable in our own skin. I LOVE having middle aged women in my portfolio. I’m ecstatic to have a boudoir session with a size 22 woman. When I ask a client “what’s the occasion for your session?” my absolute favorite answer is, “I’m doing this for myself.” Then we proceed to dress-up (or down) and have the most fun creating souvenirs of that moment. The experience is as important to me as the tangible, visual end products.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well I wouldn’t be a proper woman in my thirties with friends coming to town if there wasn’t brunch involved. I live in Sandy Springs and recently discovered The Select as a fantastic spot for food, drinks and a lovely atmosphere. Their room with strings of flowers hanging down from the ceiling is enchanting. My friends know me as a (crazy) plant lady, so a visit to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens would also be a necessary stop. There are so many sweet tucked-away areas around the gardens where you can sit and enjoy the weather and good conversation. Before Covid and social distancing I used to enjoy salsa dancing in the Atlanta area. Wednesday nights at Tongue and Groove was always packed! The best event for latin dancing, though, is at Academy Ballroom on Miami Circle. There’s a social once a month called Tumbao. You’ll see everyone from beginners to professional performers on the dance floor. One of my friends and fellow salsa dancers opened a rooftop restaurant in Buckhead; Habitat. The tacos are wrapped in a shell of fried cheese. You probably don’t need any more details than that to be sold on the place, but the ambiance is really great: decor, music, and exotic plants all contribute to a trendy Mexican-inspired space. Somehow the crowd that gathers there at night is exceptionally gorgeous, it’s one of my favorite spots to bring a date. You also can’t go wrong with a stroll down the Beltline and food at Ponce City Market. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve got to shout out to my three younger sisters; Hillary, Hailey and Alexa. They’re my original models (guinea pigs?). I’ve had some important breakthroughs as a photographer being able to shoot with them over the years. Something about the comfort level working with family allowed me to stretch and experiment in ways I couldn’t with a paid customer. After an especially great session I’ll message them images from the back of my camera and sneak peeks of my favorite shots in our Instagram group chat. They’re great at giving honest feedback and they’re my favorite cheerleaders.
Other: Boudoir work is separate on Instagram @nuvoboudoir
Elle Wood Photography