Photographer, Film Maker part-time Steve Aoki impersonator and “washed up reality tv idiot”. His work has been viewed by tens of millions worldwide, and today he’s taking us behind the scenes at Miss Universe Australia.
Even if you don’t know his name, thousands of Australians would definitely be familiar with projects he’s pioneered and worked on over his career. But considering his accomplishments, Jarrad hasn’t really been in the game for too long.
We caught up with Jarrad in between his busy schedule and just before heading out on tour with Dope Lemon, to find out a bit about his involvement with the Miss Universe Australia pageant and how he finds inspiration time and time again to create amazing and memorable shoots.
How long have you been a photographer for and what sparked this passion?
I picked up my first camera around ten years ago, mainly to help bluff my way into music festivals and shows. It turns out I was actually kind of okay at it. Both the bluffing part and photography. Can’t say much has changed since I’ve just somehow convinced a lot of people more people around the world that I know what I’m doing…
Your now several years into your involvement with Miss Universe Australia, how did this come about?
I first met Troy and Sophia through one of my first ever photography gigs, shooting for the social pages. They were always the power couple I had to make sure to get a snap of at events. I started working for them on their own events, which led to shooting Miss West Coast and now Miss Universe Australia.
It’s been a real honour and inspiration to see how their dedication has evolved the program across the board.
While in Bali you got to work on the National Finalist Swimwear shoot, What was your inspiration behind the look this year?
Working together with Soph and Mathew Knight (TV special director), we wanted to design themes that gave a bit more variety, purpose and fun to the swimwear shoot. By setting up the themes (Luxury Resort, Jungle, Australiana, Pop), it allowed both the girls and us to play with the styling, look and feel within a shoot and keep it interesting.
How did you find working on location at Alila Hotels in Bali? Did you get more inspiration from the contestants or the location, and do you find they work off each other?
My photography has always been about the interaction between the human element and with the environmental.
So it’s a mix between the two… and you can’t go too wrong with 29 stunning ladies in a location like Bali.
Most of the fun (aka stress) comes from dealing with the many different factors that pop up during a shoot – the locations, the changing light conditions, the wind and weather, the random people popping up in the background.
It’s all about working with what you have and ending up with something beautiful that does each girl justice while bringing out their unique personality and look.
What insight into the Miss Universe Australia program do you get as a photographer, that maybe most other people don’t see?
After working with the pageant (slash party) for a good six or seven years now, I do get an insight that many others don’t.
I get to see the growth in confidence from all the girls, and the friendships that form throughout the process.
It’s an intense experience for sure, but one that forges character and camaraderie.
What I hope to bring to the table with my photography is to try and show that – a peek behind the curtain, behind the glamour and the stage.
It’s easy enough to view Miss Universe as simply a beauty pageant, but there’s a much bigger picture to it. You’d be hard-pressed to find contestants who haven’t come away with an overwhelmingly positive experience, at least under Troy and Soph’s stewardship.
Thanks for chatting with us. What can we expect to see up next for you?
I’ve just finished a collaboration with National Geographic, and about to go back on tour with some great bands again.
But apart from that, I’m trying to take it a bit easier for a while and work on some of my own personal work, including the most exciting project of all – going to sleep.
Keep up to date with Jarrad’s Adventures on Instagram or by visiting jarradseng.com
This article was originally published in the 51st issue of gcmag