My tribute to Jessica Ann, a person who I counted a dear friend and was privileged to help her on our journey as she created Photography Night Walks. I was her agent and publicist for both PNW as well as JE Photo.
At the prompting and encouragement of Jacob Oberman, I wrote the below for today in celebration of her life. I really didn’t want to do this, because in my mind, it confirms something I don’t really want to believe. I wasn’t able to be present at her funeral in Perth unfortunately, but here are some words about my perspective of our friendship and the creative influence she wielded.
I first met Jess at the start of 2007, having just returned from my honey moon in the United Kingdom & France.
We were at a mutual friend’s house warming party and here we spent several hours talking about our respective travels through Europe, over a glass of shiraz. I quickly learnt that Jess was very fond of red wines noble drop, and this was to be the start of many a “shiraz’ conversation as our friendship grew over the years.
From that first conversation, Jess had the romantic idea to take photography to the street, much like the history tours that were all the rage in London and Paris. With her interior designer’s eye for detail, her travels with work had seen her gain an appreciation of Melbourne from an architectural perspective.
She saw opportunity and potential.
This sums Jess up aptly really – she was effervescent in her enthusiasm for new ideas and seeing opportunity and potential in everything she committed too.
Photography Night Walks started in February 2009 – it was a Thursday night and 25 people turned up, a mix of friends, the curious and the serious. As the night progressed, other people joined in, “tagging along” to see what we were up too. Walking around Melbourne at night, carrying Digital SLR’s around your neck wasn’t a thing back then. Jess invented that.
This was the wonderful thing with night walks and the way Jess ran it – there were always people “joining in” and she welcomed them with open arms, encouraging them to explore. We had beginners. We had amateurs. We had professional shooters.
All loved her casual yet informative and engaging style of taking people on a journey. In these early days, Jess found it incredibly difficult to even mention that it was a paid guided tour. She’d maintain she wasn’t that good at business, but its here that I disagree with her. People came along because they found value in the walks – the $10 for a 2 hour tour with drinks at the end and a review of photos at a trendy bar on the big screen was incidental.
3 years after night walks started, Jess relocated to her childhood home of Perth, to raise her daughter Lili. With two young children myself, including a daughter only 2 years older, Jess & I would often chat over the phone about parenting issues and her re-assimilating to her home city.
The early days were tough on Jess – she didn’t know a huge amount of people and being a single mum, Jess felt at times things were against her. But she hit it head on and with success. Lili has grown to be a fantastic young girl – curious, fun and inquisitive. Jess’ love for her is unending and the times she came and visited us in Victoria, were always enjoyable for how our respective children would get along. And night walks continued. Jess started tours in Perth, and came back to Melbourne at scheduled periods. She ran it all whilst raising a small child to be a caring, loving and inquisitive person, with Jess zest for life.
In closing, Jess is a dear friend to me – sharing her creativity and the privilege of being her sounding board whilst she ran Photography Night Walks allowed me to share an incredible period of her life. I’ve found it incredibly difficult to put this together. Jess’ love for photography, her boundless enthusiasm and core of grit and determination in being the best mum she could be to Lili are all things that we could learn from.
Vale Jessica Ann Edgar, we’ll remember you with love and for what you taught us can be achieved.