Jasmine Engel-Malone Headshot by Vicky Grout

Jasmine Engel-Malone Takes Us Behind The Lens

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Jasmine Engel-Malone Headshot by Vicky Grout

Having fostered a deep, intimate relationship with the lens from an early age, Jasmine Engel-Malone—a London-based photographer and model, has never been one to capture a world she doesn’t see. The German-American artist thrives in the niche of shooting analog, delivering raw, emotional narratives that interrogate the paradigms of femininity and womanhood. Her photographs aren’t mere compositions; they’re intimate reflections that resonate with a soft-focused, natural style.

Growing up in an environment teeming with creativity, Malone was captivated by the power of a snapshot and how it preserves memory. “Photography was the only creative pursuit that held my attention,” she reflects, an early discovery that fueled her professional journey. The ubiquity of cameras in her childhood environment ignited a passion for crafting visuals that exude authenticity and serve as timestamps of candid moments.

With a portfolio drenched in the understated elegance of analog photography, Malone has found a comfortable niche, albeit one punctuated by bolder elements. Her images unfurl a rich tapestry of everyday life—unpretentious, evocative, and intimate. “Most of my shots are comfortable and relaxed, reflecting my preference for shooting people in their own homes,” Malone comments. This tactile, personal approach allows her to immortalize her subjects in their most natural state, creating a moment of tranquility in an otherwise chaotic world.

However, the creative force behind Malone’s camera is her desire to represent the underrepresented. Having felt invisible in the artistic and photographic landscape, she is driven to create images that echo her identity and that of the “everyday girl or woman” she sees on the streets. “One of the main reasons I shoot is because I believe strongly that equality is improving in the creative industry, particularly for women. But I feel this drive to shoot because I grew up not seeing any real images that I felt represented me,” she confesses.

Therein lies the crux of Malone’s mission: to infuse diversity into the photography domain and break away from the male gaze that often dominates the narrative. She approaches each project with a profound sense of respect and inclusivity, soliciting her subjects’ input to ensure the images not only bear her artistic signature but truly represent those in front of the lens.

In spite of her concerns regarding the modeling industry, stemming from experiences that left a profound  mark on her in her teen years, Malone has recently found herself dabbling in it again. Now, armed with a more evolved perspective and a stronger sense of self, she views her return as an opportunity to challenge  her internal demons and foster a healthier relationship with an industry that is finally moving in a more  promising direction in regards to diversity and safeguarding.

“I feel that in order to get over my internal mistrust about the industry, I should probably give it another go. A lot of aspects seem to be shifting positively,” she says. It’s clear that Malone is on a journey of reclaiming her narrative, both behind and in front of the camera. Her poignant stories—crafted in crisp focus and soft tones—serve as an evocative testament to the strength of her voice, a whisper that becomes a rallying cry for diversity and representation in the realm of visual storytelling.

1. Big Pants

I basically got an email from a creative director saying that she was setting up a magazine. She wanted me  to shoot something, on the theme of “big pants.” I was puzzled, and it took me like three weeks to figure out  something. Like most artists do, I had a random epiphany at some point and came up with my concept. I ended up doing this group shoot with five girls. The idea was to shoot them all in business-like suits, in pant  suits, and then also shoot them nude, as a side by side parallel.

One exact same frame, the exact same shot with clothes and then without. I was looking at how fashion impacts an image, which is what a lot of my work is about. How with and without fashion, the two contrasting things, impacts an image. Also, how an  outfit that is considered to be quite powerful can have the same strength and power without clothes, and it  doesn’t necessarily have to be erotic. 

That’s probably one of my favorite shoots ever. It was a couple of years ago, but still one of my favorites  because of the day of memories I have attached to it. On this shoot, the five models  who had never met and didn’t know each other’s names before the day, rocked up. The vibe on that set was so nice because everyone got along. We did the suits look first, and they were instantly very  comfortable with each other.

I didn’t have to ask them to get closer or adjust their positions. It naturally came  together. Then, I was like, “right guys, gotta get naked now.” I was nervously waiting for the reaction because it was  the first time I’d shot a group in this setting, and I of course wanted to be sure that everyone was in a  comfortable environment.

But they were like, “No, this is great,” and most of them, who had never shot  naked before, were just really comfortable and positive about it. I think that everyone also felt passionate  about the concept and the importance of it. That’s just one of my favorites, one of my favorite days in  general. It was a very successful shoot, but the magazine never came out. I waited like a year or two and  then eventually just published it on my own as for me it became a really impactful and beautiful piece that I  wanted to share. 

2. Elli Ingram

I recently shot Elli Ingram, a really talented music artist, for her album cover. It was a dream come true for  me. I’ve shot quite a few album covers now, but this one, I’ve been a big fan of hers since I was around 14  or 15 when she was singing cover songs on YouTube. A year or so ago, one of my  friends, who turns out to be her creative director, helped me set up a shoot with her. I just wanted to take pictures of her, a casual thing in her house.

We had a really good shoot and it was  great to finally work with her. It was meant to be an online editorial thing that I was doing on my own accord, but then she got my pictures back and chose one of them for the album cover. Since  then, I’ve shot a few of her shows and we’ve actually become friends. It’s funny because I’m definitely still  fangirling a lot of the time. So yeah, that’s one of my other favorite projects. I’ve got quite a few favorites. It’s hard because I spend a  lot of time talking to people and getting to know them during my shoots, and that usually makes me love the  pictures more.

I have so many favorites because I have very strong memories attached to them. I don’t think I’ve had one shoot that’s just slipped through my brain. In almost every shoot that I’ve done, I’ve got  something very strong connected to it, which is nice.

3. Girls At Home

I officially started my latest and current personal project, “Girls At Home” maybe a year ago? Working with  women across the creative industry and photographing them in their homes and studio spaces. I’m then  aiming to have the stories published with interviews. So far, Hunger magazine has partnered with me on a  few of my recent shoots, which is lovely. Publishing the shoots with magazines ensures that the images go beyond me as a photographer and serves a broader purpose. 

My personal aim for this series is to work with enough people to publish my second book and host another  exhibition. I like to see my projects through to the end. As a photographer, it’s easy to shoot loads of  pictures and just store them on a hard drive, but I enjoy turning my work into tangible things like prints or  postcards. I shoot film because it’s physical, and I like to continue that tactile experience throughout my  work. Hopefully, I’ll be able to turn this project into a book and exhibition. It’s nice to have people see your  work, especially now that Instagram has become restrictive. So yes, that’s the idea behind that project and  that shoot. 

Two of my most recent installments of this project feature Maria Gulina and Romany Francesca. Both of  which are good friends of mine who are incredibly talented and cool. I simply want to highlight people I find  inspirational and give them credit.

4. Breaking The Bias

I was brought onto that project by Joey Darlin, a creative director and founder of a plus-size modeling  agency. One day, she contacted me about a video project she was working on and  asked if I wanted to be the photographer. I was thrilled and immediately accepted as I’d wanted to work with  her for a while. 

At first, I didn’t fully grasp the scope of the project. I thought it was going to be a fashion film, so I arrived on  set in Liverpool with my cameras, ready for a fashion shoot. But to my surprise, the project turned out to be  much more than that—it was a conversation piece. Instead of just shooting a fashion film with curve and  plus-sized models, which I already expected to be beautiful, the project involved individual interviews with  each model and gave a proper platform for their voices. 

I was there to photograph them during the video sequences and then capture their interviews. Listening to  the girls speak, I found myself getting emotional. Their stories validated my own belief—that there’s a lack of  representation in mainstream media for people who look or feel like them. Sometimes, when you’re alone  with your thoughts, you might wonder if you’re the one misinterpreting the industry. But hearing their  experiences reassured me that my concerns were valid. 

The models’ satisfaction with their pictures was another rewarding aspect for me. Whenever I send models  their pictures, I always anxiously await their reactions. Thankfully, all the girls were pleased with their shots.  It was gratifying knowing that we created a piece that made people feel good about themselves because  they absolutely deserve it. The project also resonated with many people who reached out to express their agreement and share their own experiences. Creating such a sense of community through a shoot is truly fulfilling.

Featured Image: Courtesy of Vicky Grout