For Jen Doerksen, photography both demands and offers a mind-body alignment.
“The feeling of focus and full engagement I have when working behind a camera, either with photo or video, is what keeps me coming back. It’s a state of focus, of clear mind and full attention for me, and I think my brain and whole self really benefits from being in that state or place.”
With their partner Julio César Assis (Buio), they co-founded BNB Studios, which provides full-service digital content creation for musicians and artists. Together, they have partnered with Synonym Art Consultation, produced live videos for artists like Begonia and launched a YouTube channel featuring live bench sessions.
Voted as this year’s Favourite Local Photographer, Jen says working from this occasionally wonderful but deeply complicated place influences their work.
“The Winnipeg music, journalism and photography communities have played a big role in my practice’s growth. People are supportive and willing to help me out when I have questions, and over time we get a sense of camaraderie after seeing each other out and about so much.”
With a background in community development, Jen has carried the critical reflection and ethical considerations nurtured there into their current professional practices, saying, “I try to avoid working with people who have demonstrated behaviour that my personal ethics don’t align with.
“I just want to make sure I can feel good about the work we’re doing, and that can be hard when I don’t feel I share values with someone.”
Maybe operating from this place of clear focus allows Jen to locate it in their subjects, individually.
“When you see a person totally caught up in their own experience in a moment, when you see a musician fully captivated by the music, or a public speaker wholly involved in his rhetoric and sharing concepts, or when a hockey player is fully present in the moment winding up to a shot ... This is the good shit. I think people are most powerful in photos, because that’s what people respond to, and nothing beats capturing a moment of complete magic or focus or concentration.”