Gemma Shepherd describes herself as a twenty something year old photographer and creative from Cape Town. She is a graduate from UCT with a keen focus on fashion that takes on a narrative form on her blog, The Urban Gem.
At present, she is learning how to express herself through a variety of art forms. She has relatively widespread creative interests that can be pinned down as fashion, makeup artistry, photography and writing. It is understandable that the twenty something year old would need a variety of outlets to quench her thirst for creative execution.
Her photographic practice has received increasing acknowledgement as she keeps on pushing her work to further leaps and bounds. Gemma hopes that her risky behaviour and go-getter attitude will motivate and enable other creatives to risk the unknown. “It’s very seldom that I feel truly satisfied with something I produce…[but] to look back at the work I started out producing and to see that improvement, it’s encouraging,” she tells fellow blogger Rebecca Arendse in an interview earlier this year.
Her exploration into the world of still image creation happened instinctively after she was presented with a disposable camera as a child. From there her passion for the medium grew and later evolved into combining the elements that she cares about most – fashion and portraiture. Attaining an internship at Cosmopolitan Magazine after her graduation from UCT gave her the opportunity to obtain a better understanding of the behind-the-scenes of fashion content creation. After viewing the Vogue exhibition in Madrid she came to the realization that she had what it takes to be the fashion photographer. Today Gemma’s portfolio features an editorial on Tony Gum for Roundtable, a shoot titled ‘Girls will be Girls’ recently published on A Fashion Friend, the AW17 lookbook for LAZULI as well as work produced for IMUTE Magazine.
Her photographic narrative is held together with defining elements in her work such as the use of tight cropping, slightly saturated imagery with soft shadows, black and white images that evoke chic and a droopy romantic impression, use of photomontage and an intimacy that is her own. Gemma’s use of atypical cropping brings her viewers closer to her models, closer than a viewer gets to see a stranger in real life, adding a sense of familiarity and intimacy to her portraiture. This has to be Gemma’s most intriguing dare devil move. Defying what is considered to be acceptable framing, and her move is a welcome one.
Gemma’s fervour to learn, grow and inspire translates in her imagery and documented word. Her photographic work speaks of an innate understanding of style and popular culture. Gemma is well on her way to defining a cemented means of articulating self-expression in various forms of art production. Her lens has the ability to emphasize what is natural and add a romantic overtone to her work which seduces your eyes.