Q+A with Jo Anna Edmison (@joloswag69)
Why’d you start taking photos?
“Hmm...well I first picked up a camera when I was 7- so I think I was just trying something new. But I started shooting film when I was 14 and that’s 100% become my creative outlet. My lifestyle is what I shoot- I like to preserve the California culture of hanging out with friends, surfing and skating, while also being there and doing it- if that makes sense. I hang out with my friends and get pictures of all these memories made- so I’m living them and also keeping them forever.”
What do you like most about film?
“Before I started shooting film, my friends and I use to ya know- dress in cool outfits and take a zillion photos- and that would be us hanging out. I’d get home and have over 1000 photos to look through and I just wouldn’t want to look through them all. That’s what I love about film. They’re all the best versions of the shot.”
In your photos, you and all your friends are so retro its crazy- is that real life or just on film?
“Haha yeah it’s real life. I always get asked ‘are you from this era???’ I’m a blast from the past I guess! We all found each other through being creative. It’s crazy how that happens- cool people just find each other. When I first moved to SLO, it took like 2 weeks- maybe less, to find my people.”
What’s your day-to-day camera?
“I shoot with an Olympus OM1 which is a hand-me-down from my dad. The light meter actually doesn’t work but I’ve studied light so much that I kind of just know how to measure it myself. Haha- I am my own light meter.”
How do you feel about video?
“I’m actually super passionate about making music videos and album covers. The people I surround myself with are all creative and have their “thing”- so I’ve had awesome opportunity to dabble in music videos. When we do have parties, it’s never about what’s typically thought of as ‘partying’- our parties are always live shows in living rooms or back yards. So I get to film them :)”
What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?
“Can I say when I work with Get Back? It honestly is! When I work with you guys it’s always my favorite because my photography passion mixes in with the brand identity so naturally- I never have to change anything about what I already do. Nick first reached out because he loved my shots where I was already wearing the necklace in my daily life- I actually remember the exact photo! It’s rare to work with a brand that likes you for you and pays you simply to keep doing what you’re already doing.”
What does your necklace mean to you?
“The way these necklaces have come to be a daily staple in my life is wild, actually. I had seen pictures of them in the 70s and always wanted one. One day my mom and I were at Jack’s in Hermosa Beach and my mom said ‘Omg! I used to have one of these- a surfer I was dating gave me one way back!’ Then I remembered that my best friend ever named Izzie used to wear one every day in elementary school. I got my first one that day- it was neon green surrounded by white. Throughout the years all my friends and boyfriends who were surfers would ask me where I got it and I’d always say Jack’s- just because I didn’t think to say the actual brand of the necklace! Then, when I started working with Get Back I was able to give them to everyone that had always asked me for them! I never take it off.”
Do you take inspiration from anyone in particular?
“I’ve actually never found one photographer that I’ve taken inspiration from for film. For digital, Ming Nomchong is SO inspiring. Her lifestyle and how she’s made her passion a career is very motivating. But for film, no one specifically. I’m inspired by the people around me.”
Where do you see your journey going from here?
“Well I’m going to Cal Poly for photo and video right now. I have known what I wanted to do my whole life- since I was 7- but what’s changed is how I want to do it. At first I wanted to take travel photos- documenting cultures, etc. But I went on an expedition with National Geographic when I was 17 and it made me realize that nothing lights me up like people and portraits and surf culture. Ideally, I’d love to make surf films and take photos of surf culture- like I do. It’s been really cool to be the girl in surf culture who’s not actually a great surfer. I choose to be the photographer instead of the subject of my shoots but I’ve picked up so many of the skills that come along with surf life over the years- like surfing and skating- just by being around it. I’d like to keep that learning up.”
Click here to watch one of our favorite video shorts by Jo.To see more- follow her on Instagram at @joloswag69