All images and text on this blog are the copyright of Jessica McDermott, unless otherwise stated.


Happy International Men’s Day

For the last two years, on 8th March (International Women’s Day), Richard Herring has spent the whole day replying to anyone on Twitter berating that there no is International Men’s Day, by telling them that there is, and that it falls on 19th November.

Some of the tweets are so aggressive and innately misogynistic, as they try to undermine International Women’s Day, by congratulating themselves for identifying, what they perceive to be sexism, in having a day that celebrates female empowerment and tries to combat sexual and domestic violence. Herring’s retweets and responses though are a strangely satisfying read. With the simple and effective phrase “19th November” used as a gratifying shut down button to those who close off their ears to reason, but shout the loudest.


If you read through the tweets, you’ll come across statements such as: “If there was an international men’s day the feminists would go nuts?” (direct quote, although I’ve added in the apostrophe). I don’t know why feminists are referred to like irate cartoon characters. I certainly didn’t take a strop around the living room and start pulling my hair out.

There is a current trend to paint feminists as rigorously militant and female. With terms like “feminazis”, found strewn across the internet, with willful misunderstanding of the fight for gender equality. But today is a wonderful day, International Men’s Day, where we can bring to the forefront the male feminists. Men, who are speaking out or creating work that project their feelings about gender equality. Men, who believe that they are equal to women and that women are equal to them.

So, of course, I would like to say Happy International Men’s Day to Richard Herring a.k.a Nineteenth-Of-November Man, for putting this day on the map. And I would like to extend that to all men who question gender roles in society, who question the patriarchy and who are pushing for gender equality, whether in large or small measures; today is for you.

And here is a short, slightly random, and by absolutely no means exhaustive list of men, who are trying to do just that:

Patrick Stewart is an English actor, who identifies himself as a feminist. He is a patron for Refuge and has spoken out against domestic violence, and bravely voiced his own experiences from childhood, when his father regularly beat his mother.

Joseph-Gordon Levitt is an American actor, who also runs the online collaborative production company HitRecord. He has spoken on chat shows about being a feminist and has been using HitRecord to get a dialogue going about feminism and what it really means.

Tommy Lee Jones is an American actor, writer and director, known for being stern and silent on-screen and playing the roles of cowboys. He has spoken out about sexual injustice and written and directed a western, ‘The Homesman’, released on Friday, which focuses on women over men and breaks away from many of the conventions within the genre.

Grayson Perry is an English artist known for his ceramic vases and for dressing up as his alter-ego Claire. Some of his work and recent Channel 4 TV series ‘Who Are You?’ considers identity and 21st century tribes and the potentially obstructive force to gender and societal equality, in the ‘Default Man’.

Nana Kofi Acquah is an African photographer who describes himself as a feminist. For one of his projects, he is attempting to change the narrative of women in Africa as victims and is portraying both their accomplishments and their resilience in the face of adversity.

As I say, this is far from an exhaustive list, just a little food for thought. Let me know who you would put on this list. Tweet me @jessmcfilm and use the hashtag #HappyIMD

And why not take a look at HeforShe this International Men’s Day, which is a movement for gender equality, addressing and encouraging men to stand beside women in speaking out and driving forward gender equality.

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New Online Shop

I was recently interviewed by Metro Imaging for their upcoming event Women In Photo in association with IdeasTap.

In this short interview, I discuss my project Females Of The Fringe, plus the process and ideas behind it.

The book, which I made with the help of the fabulous designer Klementyna Jankiewicz and Mariana Marques is now available online here:

FOTF cover

If you like the look of the book and the ideas behind it, please check out the shop page and share the link.

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Revisiting Film Noir

Sometimes the sun provides you with brilliant light and all you have to do is click. The light can heighten the drama and pose questions even in an innocuous scene.

Matt lying on the floor

The image above was constructed before my eyes, as my boyfriend lay on his grandma’s living room floor. I just had to grab for my camera. I have always loved Film Noir, many of my first photography projects tried to mimic the dramatic lighting from that genre. This week, inspired by the light that gave me the image above, I created a cheap and effective little contraption to produce concentrated light with my flash and took self-portraits with my DSLR.

Simple contraption made from a toilet roll holder. This can be fitted over a flash with an elastic band to direct light.

Simple contraption made from a toilet roll holder. This can be fitted over a flash with an elastic band to direct light.

Neo noir light

I think the effect works even better when it is stripped back to black and white though. There are no distractions from the colour, all you see is the content. What is left out and what lurks in the shadows is what grabs your attention and even a still as simple as the one below can begin to conjure a story.

Recreating original film noir
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I’m moving blog, please come with me!

I shot a big photography project in August about female comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe. I am going to be showcasing this work every week for the next four months, but I have moved my blog over to my website – if you click on this link you can see some more information about this project and there is a link to subscribe to the new blog.

I am moving as the layout will be better for displaying my photography and the interviews. I wanted to give my wordpress followers the heads up first. I will not be announcing this new blog on my other social media until tomorrow.

I really hope you’ll join me!

Thank you!

A dinosaur ate my salad

A fun little project to kick off the weekend…

A dinosaur ate my salad

“I didn’t do anything! A dinosaur ate my salad!”


What is lamb?

“What is lamb? Is it the same as sheep?”


Biscuit Wars

“I’m coming back for that biscuit. Go away!”

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Weekly Portrait Project

Last year I set myself a little challenge to take a portrait of someone I knew every week. Here are the images from that project. It only lasted for eight weeks, which shows I should really expand my circle of friends!





PP5-Jess PP6-Chris



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A picture’s worth a thousand words



¬© 2013 Jessica McDermott – Jess’ Eye

When someone I have just met asks me what I do, and I say photography, their second question almost without fail is, “Oh, so do you do weddings?”. It’s a fair enough question, most people have probably come across professional photographers predominantly at weddings. But it always makes me consider how people view photography, for if I said, “I’m a filmmaker” or “I’m a painter”, their first assumption would probably be that what I make is something a bit more abstract, and they would¬†perhaps think that I am a storyteller.

Photography is seen in the foremost as a means to record. It captures a big day, a live event, a piece of history. It represents us, it mirrors reality and etches it for our archives. Photography is cherished for it’s accuracy and speed, but often overlooked as a story telling medium.

The more I learn about photographers whose amazing documentary and fictitious bodies of work I adore, the more I realise how costly the work is for them to produce. Narrative photographers have to work very hard in other areas of photography and otherwise to pay to make the images they want to make and tell the stories they wish to tell. But they seldom get the return that they should. A passionate photographer can end up a asset-rich collector of their own work.

Narrative photography is one of my biggest passions and therefore I am biased to it as form of story telling, but I wonder why it doesn’t seem to grab more people. With each generation we are more submersed in constant moving media, hooked up to our own personal soundtracks, and in one hand we always have a device to save us time and fill any silent void with programmed entertainment. This means we do not need to spend time lost in our own thoughts, and when we are asked to we can become impatient and agitated.

When learning about the Ancient Greek theatre when I was in school, a teacher said that our imaginations as a collective are in decline. We are cannot visualise as well as those from earlier eras. And ten years on, this observation seems even more apparent. When we read a book or a play, we also watch the film. Before we have time to consider what Romeo and Juliet may have looked like, we have seen Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes poring over one another through a fish tank and the seed is planted in our heads. Whenever you have heard about someone for a long time and then you finally meet them, often they don’t quite fit the image in your head, but after a few hours, or maybe just a few minutes, that image has gone and it’s almost impossible to get it back. A new reality has taken its place.

So standing alone in front of an image, no matter how jam packed full of drama and action, I think on the whole, and pretty quickly, we lose our way and become bored. Impatience sets in and we become disengaged, perhaps even wondering if looking at images on a wall is pretentious. But of course it is not. Anything in life can be pretentious, a kettle could be pretentious, but thinking and quietly engaging is most definitely not, but we’re just ill practised.

It is a shame that photographic stories are not given their dues in the same way as film and other artworks. It often boils down to money, photography can be reproduced more easily than a painting, sculpture or installation, and therefore it is considered as a poorer investment, and it does not pull in popcorn-chopping crowds like the cinema, and therefore less value is attributed to it. But don’t neglect the narrative photograph, it can provide some of the most intriguing and engaging stories you may see – and often it can be viewed for free!

Here are some photographers to look to as a starting point:

Gregory Crewdson
Lottie Davies
Cindy Sherman
Colin Gray
Victor Albrow
Lori Nix

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Back on Radar

It’s been a few weeks since my last post. I had been thwarted by lack of internet in my new abode, and being on a working trip where I shot 43 people’s portraits. This should really mean I have tons to put up here, but as this is an ongoing commission I will be holding back just for now.

It has been a interesting few weeks however, I attended a Raindance screenwriting workshop to help me think about a feature film that I am currently writing. The idea has been rattling around my brain for many years now. The overarching theme of the talk was that confidence is what you need and fear is all that will hold you back. Not from writing the next big thing, but from writing at all. And I guess that is true – it’s crazy really to think that you could be scared of sitting down in front of a screen and typing. But then the other truth was that writing good work and good characters seem to come not just from addressing a fear of failure, but anything else that plagues you inside. All the while, I have discovered and watched all the Twin Peaks episodes, therefore this notion of addressing fear sounds all the more terrifying, enough to put me off typing as well as brushing my teeth in front of a mirror.

On a more promising note of writing however, I had my first ever published work appear in this month’s Scottish Field. It is an interview with Neil Torrens about the world geocaching, a phenomenon which has sprung up all over the world if people hiding and finding “treasure” with satellite navigation devices. It’s good fun, and it seems to be highly addictive.

I am hoping to get working on some more narrative photography projects soon, and get updating my website. I am toying with whether to have a shop on my website – I would be interested to hear how many people would buy photography directly from a photographer’s website and roughly how much you would expect to pay?

Please feel free to get in touch with me by commenting below or via email at

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Since my last blog post I have moved into a new place in London. I am now nicely settled, although still reliant of coffee shops for some internet access. It’s been a good couple of weeks. I got to take some acting headshots and a promotional Fringe poster image for one of my favourite comedians Phil Nichol, images from this will follow soon. I also tried out a new studio in London and took a couple of new portraits my friend, actor Nikesh Patel, playing around with dramatic painterly lighting.

Photograph - portrait with painterly light

Photograph - portrait wit painterly light

Photograph - portrait with painterly light, figure and sword

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This week


On the only sunny day we were given this week I headed down to the Thames to take some pictures along the river. The sun was at a fantastic angle for hitting the buildings and the water and creating some great beams and shadows. I also ducked under London Bridge to have another play with long exposures. I was taking shots of the water to capture the movement when I spotted a speed boat that was about to come under this side of the bridge. It can be seen below as it races along the calm water.


Today I headed on a mission for new photography equipment, always fun until you tally up the costs. I am currently making my lighting kit more portable for a commission in Glasgow, so I was on a scout for all the things I want and need.

I then headed to see Lottie Davies exhibition Memories and Nightmares, it opened today and I was very keen to see it. I have been following her work for a little while now, and this is the first time I have had a chance to see more than one piece as a exhibition print, and the first time this series has all been shown together. Previously I had only see her quintuplet image which won the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize a couple of years ago. But here everything is large and every detail of these constructed narratives from people’s memories and strange dreams can be considered visually and then a quote that led to the image sits beside it.

The exhibition is free and I would urge anyone to go and see it. It runs for a month, and more details can be found here:

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