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Joanna Halpin | Photographer and Model

Photographer and model, Joanna Halpin, grew up along the south-west coastline of England’s Cornish beaches. An idyllic childhood spent by the sea and countryside was exchanged for the city when her modelling career began. Since, Joanna has found a home in the capitals of the world, documenting her ever changing scenery along the way. The unique lens she views the world through presents with a nostalgic moodiness, like a distant memory or the end of summer. Each image revealing the intricacies of life, the remanence of human touch left gently on the natural world. The divine softness carried by her images, a reflection of the woman behind the lens.

Dressed in the 02 Robe, Classic Set and Asymmetric Set, Joanna shares her self-portraits with us taken in her current home in upstate New York.

Location: New York

Date: 22 Nov 2021

Time: 08:47




Where are you from and where are you now?
My childhood was spent in beautiful Cornwall, (south-west England) surrounded by nature and the ocean. In my early twenties I moved to London, which is where I based myself out of whilst travelling all over the place for work. And now I live in New York, between upstate and the city.


Can you tell us a little bit about your home, what is the view like?
Where I call home right now is my boyfriend’s beautiful house in upstate New York. I love living here and being surrounded by nature and experiencing a stillness that you can’t find in the city - I really feel like I have the best of both worlds as I’m not far from the city (where we also rent a little studio apartment) so everything and everyone feels very close and accessible. Our house upstate is right on the Hudson River facing west, so we get the most incredible sunsets and have such a beautiful view out over the river and of the opposing side. Right now (at the end of Autumn) all of the leaves on the trees that surround us are such a deep orange; it’s so magical.


Do you prefer mornings or evenings?
Mornings... I love waking up at home and having the morning to potter around, make coffee, meditate, practise yoga and then spend a couple of focused hours on laptop working.


You are a photographer and model, was this always a path you wanted to pursue?
Yes and no, I feel so fortunate that my life and career has unfolded the way in has. I studied graphic design at university so have always been drawn to a creative practice, but its only in the more recent years I have had the opportunity explore photography and fall in love it. I started taking photos for fun a few years ago and began to really enjoy documenting my life, noticing light, compositions and observing moments of those around me in ways that I hadn’t really paid attention to before. I gradually taught myself more about film and with the suggestions of cameras and help from friends I got more and more practise and confidence to start shooting.



What drew you to working with this medium?

I’m sure modelling and the exposure of being on set with different photographers, observing their styles of shooting and listening to how they direct me, has given me a deeper understanding of how to communicate and deliver what I want an image to look like. Being a model has also gave so many opportunities to travel which is when I started taking film photos just for myself and realised how much I enjoy it, it was a very organic discovery that I am still very much learning and exploring.


Your images present with a moodiness, like a distant memory or the end of a summer. What is your approach to taking a picture?

Thank you and I love that you said my work presents the feeling of ‘moodiness, like distant memory or the end of summer’ as this is a feeling of the type of imagery I always consciously (or subconsciously) am drawn to myself. My approach to taking photos is simply to observe what is already there and try to capture that moment as I see it.


Where do you look for inspiration? 

In the simplicity of everyday life and observations. I think I was very much inspired to start shooting in the way that I do because of a beautiful book a friend suggested I buy a few years ago called ‘Josie You & Me’ by Josie Borain. It is her documentation and observations of herself and moments she captured on set as a model throughout the 80s. I fell in love with her book and felt such a connection to this idea of documenting moments of my life on and off set. I get so much joy out of photography through observing something in its most natural form - whether this is sunlight hitting an object in a certain way, the shadow something creates, a reflection, the way someone’s hair is falling down their back or how they are sitting. So, the way that I shoot very much lends itself to being as organic as possible, rather than conceptual or by fabricating a situation, and for that reason I feel I can be inspired anywhere, by anything.


Have you always felt the need to create in your life?

Yes, but on certain days it can feel like hard work. I know my creativity is very much connected to my happiness and brings me a lot of pleasure. When I’m shooting or talking about projects, I can feel it brings me joy and fulfilment.


Has there been a significant moment of your past that has informed where you are today?

I’m sure there has been many significant moments that have all led me to where I am today. Without sounding incredibly smitten, my boyfriend has been an amazing influence on opening my eyes to how I approach things. Which has led me to the realisation that what I want and how I move through life is really down to me and I how I want to approach it. And that I have the ability within me to see the light and good in everything.

As an international model, you are often travelling. What are your best sleep practises when on the road?

I’m very fortunate with sleep and even when travelling it never seems to be too badly affected. As a rule, I don’t drink caffeine after 4pm and if I am feeling like my mind is racing too much before bed I will either do a yin yoga practise or listen to something calming.


What is your approach to dressing each day and what is your go-to attire?

I have a very carefree, easy approach to dressing. I gravitate towards jeans and t-shirts and rotate various versions of that. I do enjoy dressing up at times and being more thoughtful, but my day to day is very simple.


Words you live by?

So much beauty’ - my boyfriend and I would say this a lot last year during the lockdown when the possibility of seeing the negative was very strong; to remind ourselves of how lucky we were and just how there is so much beauty in the world.


How do you find comfort?

More and more I am learning to seek and find comfort in myself rather than through external people or things. It’s amazing when you have appreciation and gratitude for everyday simple moments how much joy everything can bring you.


If you could be identified by a scent, what is that scent and why? 

Palo Santo is absolute favourite scent; I just love the smell of it and how it makes feel. I always burn it in the morning, or when I return home, or before I meditate so maybe I associate it with feeling settled and grounded.


Do you have any rituals you practise each day?

I (try) to mediate every day and practice yoga as often as I can - usually ends up being about 4 times a week depending on my schedule and whether I’m upstate or in the city. Sky Ting is my favourite place to practise yoga in New York.


What is your favourite place to be in the world, and what do you do there?
Once of my favourite places in the world is Sydney. I have spent a lot of time there for work and I actually spent most of the 2020 pandemic there, where I discovered the nicest weekend ritual of waking up and driving to Iggy’s in Bronte, and then walking down to the beach and sitting and watching the ocean with a coffee and Iggy’s feta croissant. I can’t wait to be able to come back to Australia and relive this memory.


Do you have a favourite recipe on rotation, and can you please share it with us?
During the pandemic lockdown I got very into making pasta from scratch via one of my favourite London restaurants ‘Trullo’. They posted the recipe for the fresh dough with cacio e pepe on their Instagram, and it was such an amazing, easy dough recipe I have been making and adapting ever since.

The recipe is below:

375g bread flour 185 ml water
1 tbsp. olive oil 1 pinch of salt

Cacio e pepe:
100g grated Parmesan
160g unsalted cubed butter
1 large tbsp. black ground pepper 1 pinch of salt

And you can watch the live cooking method here:
Dough preparation  
Cacio e pepe method


What are you currently reading, watching or listening to?
As I write these answers I’m listening to my ‘Nov21’ playlist. I started making a month by month playlist a couple of years ago, where I add all of the songs (old and new) that I hear and love, or have been sent over that monthly period. I’m reading ‘Second Place’ by Rachel Cusk. And watching the third season of ‘Succession’.


Before you go to bed, how do you unwind?
If I’m upstate I will always try to do a yin yoga, it is so calming for the mind and it physically feels so good to stretch before going to bed.


What do you dream of while you sleep?
I so rarely dream (or at least never seem to remember my dreams) so this one is a little tricky for me to answer...but when I do remember dreams they are usually influenced by something that I saw, heard, experienced that day and my subconscious has taken it and turned it into some parallel dream version of that ‘real’ thing.







Interviewed by Montana Purchase for Deiji Studio’s Field Notes



See more of Joanna's work here.

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