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More than skin deep

Capturing the perfect in the imperfect; Jessica Koomen’s photographic voice is informed by the body in its purest form.

Words by Hannah Tapping

Jessica Koomen’s creative nature was observable at a young age. Growing up with dyslexia, she struggled to keep up with her peers at school. Though her studies challenged her confidence, she found joy in creative endeavors and, later on, freedom while practicing and teaching yoga. Using photography, she finally found a medium in which she could express herself with and tell stories through the lens rather than with words. Now, as a professional photographer she helps brands to tell their own story in the same way. As a passionate advocate for the planet, Jessica studied for a Masters in Sustainable Design and continues to learn from integral leaders in sustainable living. She’s motivated to reduce her environmental impact and lives a predominantly plastic-free and sustainable lifestyle. Jessica is committed to living every day from the heart and there’s nothing she’d rather do than share her love for photography, yoga and conscious living,

As a child, Jessica discovered a family archive of books and letters by the famous Vogue photographer Sir Norman Parkinson, who had spent some of his childhood at the family farm during the First World War. She was inspired by the way he captured the strength and personality of the women he photographed. “I remember for years being unhappy with how I looked,” says Jessica, “like a lot of young women do. I lacked confidence in what I looked like and where I was going in life. Without realising it, I was comparing myself to others and what you see on social media and in magazines. I wanted to be something that fundamentally I was not.” “Yoga and meditation helped me to start to reconnect and embrace who I was; my curves, lines and imperfections. Through yoga I could dive in to my inner world and find peace with myself. It gave me the space to release emotions and process things. The different yogic practices I was doing allowed me to feel, to cry and to be – whether it was chanting a mantra, meditating, practicing asanas or doing a pranayama (breathwork). I realised I was not alone. We all go through a journey of self-acceptance and this led me to want to empower other women by using photography to show real women’s bodies, because that is what they are. Not airbrushed and perfect like the images we see in magazines. We are all perfectly imperfect.” Having spent time in Australia, Jessica co-founded The Yoga Social with Erin Tetarenko running events and retreats in Byron Bay. The Yoga Social’s purpose is to offer mindful and memorable experiences that inspire positive change, with events coming to Cornwall soon. Jessica also works with seasonal farm-to-fork restaurants and sustainable businesses and lives full-time in Cornwall.

Instagram: jesskoomen

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