At 21 years old, Jules Keenan is already making use of her college degree. Jules, a second-year photography student at the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design, works in her field for multiple local organizations including the college she attends.
“It’s exhausting, but it’s fun,” said Jules.
In addition to being a full-time student, Jules is the multimedia editor for The Brunswickan, an intern for both NBCCD and the CreatedHere Magazine, and an entrepreneur for her own photography business. Although it sounds like a lot, each position she currently holds contributes to her overall passion: Telling stories.
Jules got an early start in the biz, getting published in a magazine when she was just seven years old. It was an article she wrote about being diagnosed with type one diabetes when she was six.
“That obviously changes you, even though you’re so young and you don’t understand much about the world yet.”
While she admits she may have been published because her aunt was the editor of the paper, there’s no denying that her drive for telling stories started young. Jules says she’s learned to use her writing skills to cope and understand life.
“I’ve always been a writer, and I’ve always been a storyteller as well because of that.”
Going to high school in Blackville, N.B., gave Jules more opportunities to test out her passion for photography. She started shooting for her school yearbook, which led to her first gig – a wedding when she was 15 for $50.
“They’re horrible photos…And I didn’t have a flash. I didn’t know how to use that kind of stuff. It was in this building that was converted into a church, with short ceilings and it was very dark. [The photos] are super blurry and I turned them black and white to try to hide the fact that I couldn’t edit colour.”
Jules continued learning photography on her own terms, shooting grad sessions and becoming interested in film photography in Grade 12. When she found out that NBCCD has a darkroom, she decided to apply so she could learn how to develop her own film.
Jules started out in Foundation Visual Arts, a program meant for artists who don’t already have education or experience in the arts. Though she explored many mediums that year, she didn’t shake the reason she came. Shortly after arriving, she approached Photography Coordinating Instructor Drew Gilbert to ask if he could teach her how to develop film.
“I learned how to develop color before black and white. And people are like, ‘That’s like learning to run before you can walk.’ … [Some people] are like ‘I wouldn’t even bother to develop color, it’s just so much work and it can be so finicky, just send it away.’”
But Jules disagrees. She finds a lot of enjoyment in developing colour film.
“Now I feel like black and white is too boring to develop because it’s so easy. You just mix it, and there you go. It doesn’t matter the temperature. But with colour, there’s temperatures that have to come under control and it’s a longer process, but I find it fun.”
Before Jules came to NBCCD, she thought she already knew how to use her camera but was surprised to how much she didn’t know, especially when it came to lighting. Now, in the second year of the Photography Diploma program, Jules has mastered both natural light and artificial lighting. Her photos are delicate, evoke emotion, and each one tells its own story. Her photography takes on a life of its own after the process is complete.
Jules, a self-described “people shooter,” is looking forward to working on the creative side of her own photography. She has a lot of plans, and right now is hoping to work at the provincial archives over the summer and focus on her own portrait photography. For the time being she enjoys being busy and is especially loving doing layout for The Brunswickan. One day she hopes to work for a magazine publication, or maybe start her own.
Want to see more of Jules’ work?
Facebook page: Jules Keenan Photography
Instagram: Jules Keenan Photography
Jules has also been a part of two recent exhibits: Askew, the 2021 Photography Studio Exhibition at The George Fry Gallery that ran from Jan. 28 to Feb. 24; and Shift the Focus, a current exhibit at the Gallery on Queen that opened March 13 and runs until March 27.
Click for the Askew virtual tour. Stop into the Gallery on Queen at 406 Queen St. to check out Jules’ work in-person.
In NBCCD’s photography program, you’ll learn the exciting range of photographic technologies including digital photography and enhancement, videography, printing and historical processes, in addition to experiencing traditional analogue photography and hands-on history in our spacious, state-of-the-art darkroom. Learn more about the photography program here.