World-renowned celebrity and fashion photographer Jennifer Graylock stands out from the crowd using her natural talents.
Standing in the pit at the fashion show, neck and neck with 20 other photographers (who all happen to be male and who are all vying for the same shot), she pivots because she’s seen something different – something special. With a click and a flash, she captures the most perfect glimmer of the intricately hand-sewn beads on the model’s gown.
Across the pond, she visits with a young royal couple. She sees beyond their exterior and notices the kindness in their eyes, the soft way they look at each other. She feels the emotion. Click, flash. An unforgettable moment is written in the history books.
Life passes us by in a series of phases. But how special to be the one behind the lens, capturing specific perspectives, privy to the most private of moments, entrusted with the most sacred of details, and responsible for presenting your subjects in the most positive light.
It’s an art that can be described as prolific. One must take care, like a leopard stalking prey, to strategically place the subject in the perfect target, and at the perfect angle, so as to get the perfect shot.
For Jennifer Graylock, a world-renowned photographer and artist who has worked with the most famous people on the planet (Kings, Presidents, Actresses, and Fashion Designers), her impeccable eye, her sense of humor, and her ability to relate to anyone who crosses her lens have helped her make her mark and defy the odds in this male-dominated field.
“I was, as a child, a frustrated artist, because I wanted to paint realistically and draw realistically, but I just couldn’t. As hard as I would try, I would say, it’s okay. But it was never like what the masters could do… But then I was introduced to the camera,” Jennifer told me.
This is when she realized the camera would be her medium to create realistic works of art. Through photography, she can focus on the details, to bring silent pieces of a story (or a personality) to life. She can hyper focus on the soft smile of a gentle soul; or bring out the hard exterior of a public persona covering up an interior that is ready to crack.
“All the ideas in the universe are out there,” Jennifer quipped. “Anyone can pick that idea at the exact same time. It’s up to you to pick it and take it and to use it your way.”
So how does she get the shot?
One need to only look inside oneself to understand their true gifts, which will allow him or her to soar in a chosen profession. For Jennifer, her intuition allows her to formulate her creative vision, and her natural sense of humor allows her to pull the best from her subjects.
“I like to have fun!” Jennifer says. “So for me, everything has to be exciting and fun and light and goofy (she laughs even as she says this)… so I love to say to people, Work it! Work it! Give it to me!
“I do that all the time. One time, I was photographing Laura Bush when she was First Lady, and I’m like, “Come on, work it, give it to me, give it to me! And then I went OOH, I’m SO sorry! No disrespect! But it just came out and she was just laughing and she just said “this is so refreshing, keep on doing it!””
Now, it takes a special personality to be able to tell a First Lady to work it. But Jennifer was never afraid of celebrity or powerful people.
“My grandmother always said to me, everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time. No one’s any different. So that held with me. When I meet people, I take them at face value at that time. I don’t care what they did before, and I don’t care what they’re going to do after. It’s who they are in the moment they’re with me.”
Over the years, she’s worked at publications like People, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar, where she was able to not only hone her craft, but gain the true grit it takes to succeed in a male-dominated industry.
While her male counterparts were busy making fun of her, as they often would, Jennifer was too busy to care much.
She was off to the runways, the red carpets, and the private homes of the Uber Elite: snapping photos of such icons as our last four United States Presidents; fashion geniuses like Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour; actresses like Jennifer Aniston and Salma Hayek; and royalties like Will, Kate, Harry, and Meghan.
There was that one time, when Valentino “Rockstud” Garavani held up his fashion show to walk her through each piece one by one backstage…
“It was a couture fashion show, in Paris, at this most incredible location, with all the baroque paintings – maybe it was the Paris Opera House? I’m not sure. But it was just the most beautiful place in the world,” Jennifer said.
“And I was there photographing under the startup I was working with, and I went backstage. It was getting close to show time. I walked over to Valentino, and I said, “I just want to tell you, I love your fashions.”
“And he says, “Oh, you like that!” And I said, “yes, they’re just incredible and beautiful”, and he said, “Would you like to meet the women who made them?” And I’m like sure!”
“So at each dress, he introduced me to each one of them and he told me about the dress… and he would pull the dress out and say touch this, and then I realized, time was fleeting, and I said Seriously, I’m just a photographer. You need to start the show.”
And he goes, “It’s my show, I’ll start it when I’m ready… Do you love my fashions?” And I said yes!”
He continued to take her to each dress, one by one, and after he was done, he started laughing and said “Look – go to the front, get to your spot, wave at me, and I’ll start the show.”
“So I didn’t walk, I RAN!” Jennifer said. “I got to the pit area so I could photograph the show, I waved… and the show started just like that (she snaps).”
We both agreed that was most definitely a once in a lifetime moment. “That kind of thing I don’t think can ever happen again,” Jennifer noted. “Because all of the designers now are guarded by their publicists, and they don’t allow that kind of access.”
And then there was that time she shielded Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld from the Paris Fashion Show Paparazzi by telling them he was her cousin…
“Here I am, before the guests come in… Jerry comes in with Jessica and sits down, and there were all these French photographers running over and they’re trying to take pictures of him, and I’m thinking uh-oh, I’ve gotta fix this,” Jennifer says.
So, naturally unafraid, she jumped right in between the photographers and the visibly annoyed couple, and said, “Guys, what are you doing?! That’s my cousin! Why are you photographing my cousin?”
And then when they left, she turned to the Seinfelds and said, “You owe me.” Realizing, though, that they’d actually wanted to receive some press, she added, “You’re getting plenty of press… my photos are going out all over the place.”
And there were also those times she photographed Will and Kate, and Harry and Meghan…
“I had the privilege of being with (Will and Kate) for a few days… Kate is so sweet, and so is Will. They’re very gentle people, and very accessible people – in the fact that you can talk to them… And so is Harry, and so is Meghan… very nice, very sweet, and again, that same, gentle kind of personality.”
And finally, there was the ultimate culmination of her success, as Jennifer became the first – and only, to this day – woman to win Top Photographer at the 2017 Hollywood Beauty Awards.
Jennifer Graylock’s life and work continue to pivot, and she’s found new mediums to explore – deviating from her uber-realistic photos into interpretive and deep layers of photos that tell intricate stories.
Her recent work, titled, “My Reality Check Has Bounced,” is one of those such pieces. “This is from a Christian Dior fashion show that happened at Versailles,” she said. “It was the most incredible fashion show. EVER. Unbelievable. And this was when John Galliano was doing it, so it was more over the top and really out there, so I photographed it.”
So what else is on the horizon for this seer? Her unwavering curiosity, creativity, persistence, and sense of humor will allow this iconic artist to shine wherever she may go – viewing life from a different angle, with a Click and a Flash.
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