The Fashionista is in – Profile: Jennifer Cress

Globetrotting local fashion photographer gives me the scoop on her work from Minnesota to Paris.

Local photographer Jenn Cress tells A&E about Paris fashion week.

Local photographer Jenn Cress tells A&E about Paris fashion week.

Kara Nesvig

IâÄôd been emailing back and forth with local photographer Jennifer Cress, 32, about chit-chatting with me for a Fashionista column and she was all for it âĦ except at the time, she was in Paris shooting Paris Fashion Week goings-on. However, upon her return from the City of Lights she was all for giving me the scoop on her work as both jetsetting photographer and magazine editor for Minneapolis-based luxury mag Artful Living. Check out her work at http://jenncress.com (Oh, and P.S. âÄì She met Vogue Editor Anna Wintour!) WhatâÄôs your background in photography, and fashion photography in particular? I started shooting and documenting people and light nine years ago. It’s a chance to make a difference in a broader scope, to define the culture of fashion aesthetically. I have a vested interest in the concept of fashion, and holding true to the history of iconic shooters of our decade. Who are some of your favorite photographers? Who inspires you? In the past IâÄôve been inspired by Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz, Irving Penn, but IâÄôm inspired by some of the amateur photos that I see in fashion âĦ some of the younger crowd that just is really into fashion itself, capturing more of the art, street bloggers and things like that. Now, some of the people I look to for inspiration are Steven Meisel, Mario Sorrenti, David Hamilton, David Sims. How do you describe your own work and aesthetic? It’s been described as fresh, clean and edgy. My own description would be a little more raw, and I try to combine luxury with that. IâÄôve seen your work around town. What local publications have you shot for? IâÄôve shot for METRO Magazine and Minnesota Monthly but mainly itâÄôs for Artful Living. [Jennifer is the fashion editor and photographer at the publication.] Tell me about Artful Living. ItâÄôs based out of Minneapolis. ItâÄôs a quarterly magazine centered around MinnesotaâÄôs most beautiful homes and the lifestyles and luxury within. We are defining and conceptualizing the new fashion section, trying to raise the bar for Minnesota fashion and put it in a more global stance. I donâÄôt think Minnesota, just Minnesota anymore; it’s a worldwide situation. We’ve worked on trying to mix luxury with new, edgy and interesting articles and features for future publications. What other fashion work do you do around the Twin Cities? With some of the knowledge I have gained by working with models in other markets like New York or Paris, I have been doing test photo shoots with some of the up-and-coming local talent to raise the quality of their portfolios to a more national status. YouâÄôve recently done a bit of traveling, both to New York Fashion Week and to Paris. WhatâÄôs that like? [Artful Living] came up with concept of documenting Minnesota-based models and there are some great ones. Megan McInerney [discovered by Vision Models], we documented her and she’s doing some amazing stuff, like Dolce & Gabbana, a spread in Italian Elle, walking for Chanel. The energy that goes into Fashion Week âĦ there’s nothing else like it. I try to capture that intensity in my photos, being able to mesh those two worlds, Minnesota versus New York, Minnesota versus Paris. We are from Minnesota but we have the talent âĦ to bring it to another level. Tell me about Paris. It’s amazing. The photo is the high point; it’s what I do, it’s what I believe in âĦ that energy, in 15 to 20 minutes, the lights come up and the models come out. They all mean it. From the designersâÄô perspective and with what they had to go through, it’s like the birth of a child. For me to witness that is just amazing, not to mention to document it, bring it home and share it with people who donâÄôt get to experience it. Breaking the language barrier, too; I don’t speak French, but making the connections that allow us to enter those arenas is part of what I do and why I do it, climbing that ladder of fashion. [Jennifer was the exclusive photographer for once-retired designer Josephus Thimister and also shot for Peter Som and Christophe Josse.] You and Minneapolis-based stylist Jane Belfry got snapped for the New York TimesâÄô style publication T. I want to know how that happened! Jane and I went to a party for New York fashion bloggers and fashion industry people who were in Paris for Fashion Week. It was a pretty crazy situation. To be one of several photos that ran was amazing. It was a very elite party âĦ [blogger] Tommy Ton, Alexander Wang, Lindsay Lohan was there. It was all I could do to keep myself from begging Erin Wasson to let me photograph her. I had to conform myself and play it cool, which is not always easy when you’re a girl from Minnesota.