Nashville is lucky to have Heidi Jewell photographing her way through this city she now calls home. As the photographer behind the street style fashion blog Under the Guise, as well as the Nashville Editor for NYLON, her jaw dropping beautiful photos continue to prove to the world why this city is such a hip place to be.
What brought you to Nashville?
I’m from a very small town in New Hampshire, but moved to Nashville after I graduated from University in Montréal. My sister works in the music industry here, and convinced me that Nashville was the place to be. She knew how much I loved The Sartorialist, and was actually the one who suggested I create a Nashville street style blog. Little did I know, three years later, Under The Guise would evolve into so much more.
When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
I knew I wanted to be a photographer when I picked up a friend’s dusty 35mm camera and we forced her little brother to be our muse. I was probably about 14 or 15, but in that moment I knew photography was something I wanted to further explore.
How did you get started working with magazines like ELLE and NYLON?
ELLE.com was the first major publication that published my work online (then later in print) that really launched my career and opened a lot of doors. I met a wonderful man named Will (who worked at ELLE in retail sales and marketing at the time), while I was a cocktail waitress when I first moved to Nashville. He kindly put me in touch with Joe Zee who then passed along my information to the ELLE.com team. I ran with the opportunity and before I knew it, was shooting pretty much every major music festival for them and photographing exclusive street style spreads. After NYLON did a full spread on Nashville, I knew they had an ear to the ground as to what was happening here. I pitched a few convincing cases why they needed a Nashville Editor, and I’ve been working for them ever since.
What have been some of your favorite places to take photographs in Nashville?
My favorite places to take photos in Nashville are on Charlotte Pike and in East Nashville along Gallatin Avenue. Finding beauty in the unknown completely fascinates me and is an integral part of my work. I thrive off the raw emotion of photographing a complete stranger (whether it be for street style or just because I think they’re interesting), and the pressure to capture them in a beautiful light. The strongest and most artistic work I produce is usually under some sort of time constraint or awkward situation. I always make it a priority for whoever my subject is to feel safe while I showcase their unique style, look or whatever I’m there to capture. I know they’re going out on a limb for me and that’s something I never take for granted.
If you could change one thing about Nashville, what would that be?
I would love for the city to integrate better public transportation and more bike lanes!
What is your favorite way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon?
I live in Germantown and absolutely adore this neighborhood. On Sundays, I love to wander and explore along side streets, while admiring the interesting architecture. Since I’m so close to the Farmers’ Market, I then load up on fresh fruits and veggies for the week and stop to snack on a few at Bicentennial Park. Come night, I’m usually caught having Sunday Supper at City House and then unwinding with friends sipping on a specialty cocktail at Rolf and Daughters on their patio.
Is there a hidden gem in Nashville that you think needs more attention?
It’s hard for “hidden gems” to stay under the radar for too long here, but I think Bicentennial Park and the downtown Nashville Public Library are two beautiful places that more people should take advantage of!
What piece of advice have you leaned on throughout the years?
Push yourself to work really hard, think outside the box and never give up when it comes to something you want. This advice is especially true when you’re trying to make it in any entertainment or fashion-related industry. Competition is thick and full of talent, so you always have to be one step ahead and able to offer something unique that sets you apart.
For someone wanting to become a better photographer, what would be your first piece of advice?
Spend as much time as you need getting acquainted with your camera and learn it like the back of your hand. Once you have the basics down, the manual adjusting becomes second nature and you’re able to focus solely on getting the perfect shot.
As summer approaches is there an upcoming event in Nashville you are looking forward to?
What books are currently on your bedside table (or kindle)?
Alec Soth’s Niagara, Grace: A Memoir and Charles and Ray Eames: Designers of the Twentieth Century.
Do you have any fears?
I’m terrified of snakes!
If there is one place in the world that you think everyone should experience, where would that be and why?
The Grand Canyon. It completely took my breath away.
If you could describe Nashville to someone from out of town, how would you describe our city?
I would describe Nashville as being a really well-rounded city. One could ramble on about all our music accolades and how we’re the heart of music for many reasons, but there’s so much more to Nashville than just that! There’s a flourishing art and fashion scene. Startups are contributing to the notion that Nashville might be the next big tech city. There’s a lot of promising activity going on and it’s an exciting time to be here.
What are three things that you can’t live without (with the exception of God, friends and family!)
I can’t live without my camera, hard drive and email. Boring, but true! I’m a slave to my craft.
Thanks, Heidi! And thank you to Ashley Hylbert for the beautiful photographs!