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A Visit From Our Singapore Photographer

Friday January 15th, 2010

We had the pleasure of a visit to Wonderful Machine HQ from Jessie Morgan, one half of the Morgan & Owens travel photo duo who work out of Singapore. She was in town for a teaching convention, at which she presented a paper on the influence of the photograph on Hawthorne’s creative nonfiction.

A sample of their work:

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Over lunch, we grilled Jessie about how she and her husband ended up in Singapore (they’re both Americans), and how they’ve worked out their professional identity as a photography team.

The couple moved from Brooklyn to Singapore for a change of pace and a teaching opportunity for Jessie. Both have brought their travel magazine clients (Travel + Leisure, Budget Travel, and others) with them to Singapore, and they’re also doing work for local hotel clients who, fortunately, want them to apply their editorial style to advertising work.

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How did they end up shooting together? First off, they met while working in a cafe in New Orleans in 2000. They later moved to Brooklyn and worked in the publishing world doing photo editing. After they became travel photographers, Jessie joined up with James professionally because they were often competing for the same jobs.

Jessie and James created a “Morgan & Owens” style that they both took great effort to achieve. So their work as individuals is not exactly the same as when they are hired as the M&O duo. Having two shooters is helpful because one of them can get the “safe” shot and the other can run off to get a more ambitious sunset shot from a hilltop that may end up being an opener or cover shot. She says that James may branch out at some point to showcase his food photography, as well.

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A few other tidbits:

  • If they hadn’t gone to Singapore, they had considered buying an Airstream trailer and traveling the U.S., following travel assignments in sort of an endless vacation-shoot.
  • Jessie says that Singapore’s cost of living is Similar to NYC’s.
  • They love shooting on film, and find that some of their editorial clients still prefer it. Of course, they shoot digitally as well. [On a side note: we were surprised to discover that Wired magazine also prefers film, while visiting them on a recent trip to San Francisco]
She brought us biscotti from Termini Bros., a great bakery downtown. I mention this because, like most travel photographers, she knows how to find the best food/travel resources no matter where she goes.
She also left her two portfolios with us, and mentioned that hers had sleeves.

Jessie also brought us biscotti from Termini Bros., a great bakery in downtown Philadelphia (not far from our offices). I mention this because, like most travel photographers, she knows how to find the best food/travel resources no matter where she goes. We hope that James will visit soon and bring some other local treats!

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4/13/10 UPDATE: We’ve since videotaped Jessie and James’ portfolio, which looks great! Here it is:

-Neil Binkley

One Response to “A Visit From Our Singapore Photographer”

  1. Bridget Wang says:

    I really like Jessie and James’s work. It’s so cool to know that they still shoot film.

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