This feature is from the Fall 2017 issue of AGLOW.
First thing you do in the morning? It's a terrible habit, but I always check my phone. Usually it's my phone alarm going off to wake me up (I'm not much of a morning person haha)
Favorite meal? Breakfast definitely. Can't start the day without a good breakfast
Go to music/podcast when you’re deep in photo editing? Always tunes. If I want to really get stuck in and get it done, I'll put on some Bonobo, Catching Flies, Tycho, Four Tet, Novo Amor or RY X. Something a little more atmospheric that isn't too distracting.
I was born in South Africa and moved to Australia in 2000 with my parents and younger brother. Growing up I never considered myself 'artsy’; I didn't take art at school because I couldn't draw or paint. It wasn't until senior high school that I took film and television that I discovered this passion for creativity. Still unsure of what I wanted to do with my life, I went onto university to study Communication & Graphic Design and it was then I took a photography subject. For the first time in my life, I had found something I loved doing and was relatively good at. I then went on to study a two year diploma in photography which I completed in 2011 and started my own photography business.
The creative industry is extremely intimidating. I grew up with parents who encouraged my brother and I to study and get 'real' careers, so it took me a long time to jump in and give it a go. For the first few years of having my own photography business I was also working in cafes, still unsure if I wanted to make the transition from hobby to career. I was finally forced into making a decision when I was laid off from my cafe job. My manager at the time could see how I was struggling to keep both jobs and could see photography was really where my heart was. It was devastating at the time, as I’d never been fired from a job before, but in hindsight it was the best thing anyone has ever done for me. I was forced to put 100% into my business and I never looked back. A few years later, everything came full circle when I shot my cafe manager's job which I thought was pretty awesome.
My brother being an accountant, was the least accepting of my career choices, it took him a long time to understand my business decisions and accept that I was a photographer. It was only when people would say to him 'I saw your sister's work in this magazine' or 'your sister's famous' that he actually started to support me and actually help me in my business. Now, I’m a wedding and fashion photographer based on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. I get to travel for my work, which I love (especially to colder climates), and I'm so fortunate that I get to experience such incredible parts of the world.
When I first started out, I was a fashion photographer and never intended on shooting weddings. But I absolutely love shooting weddings but it's really great to have a balance and challenge myself in fashion every now and again. I can't say I prefer one over the other, that would be like choosing a favourite fur-baby haha.
A few years ago I photographed a wedding and the couple had a sparkler exit to conclude the evening. One of the guests lit a few sparklers at once which made a fire stick, she then threw the sparklers at the ground. Another guest happened to walk past at the time with a chiffon kimono and caught on fire. Luckily she wasn't burnt or hurt. I've since seen a few sparkler accidents, they're so much fun and great for photos but can be so dangerous ha!
I've shot a couple weddings where a family member or guest has passed away soon after their wedding, and knowing that I probably took the last photo of that person and how much that photo would mean to the couple over any other photo I took on the day. It's those moments that I remind myself just how important my job is.
The most difficult aspect of this industry has definitely been balance for me, especially during wedding season. I put 110% of myself into my business and I've neglected some self care a little over the last few years. This year I’ve cut back by limiting the number of weddings I shoot a year and only doing selective fashion work to have more time to myself. I outsource my wedding editing which helps a lot. It took me a while to learn that I can't do a good job if I'm not taking care of myself physically and mentally first and foremost.
My big goal for next year is to buy a house. If I'm able to do that on my own then I've reached my business goal. I’m really passionate about nature and wildlife, so I want to continue work on a photo book/exhibition I've had on my heart for a few years, to photograph African wildlife to raise money for an anti-poaching foundation in Southern Africa.
Becoming a photographer is the best decision I've ever made, I've never been more happy and satisfied with my life. My only regret is not doing it sooner. If I could go back in time to that age, particularly in high school, I would tell myself 'Janneke you can do anything you want with your life! If you want to be creative you don't need to draw or paint, there are other mediums like photography.' Over the years it's been easy to go off track and get influenced by others, but staying true to myself and my style has been really important. Standing out is difficult, but all you can be is yourself, because no one does 'you' better than 'you' do.
Janneke Storm is a destination wedding and fashion photographer based in Queensland, Australia since 2000. She has a black labrador and two Burmese cats and is passionate about wildlife & environment conservation. Janneke is powered by tea and coffee, and her mother says that she’s “married to her camera.”