Her Tumblr page is overflowing with photographs of animals of different species, diverse landscapes, uniquely captured human moments and ordinary objects. What do these photos have in common? Jordan Richards is in every single one of them. While her golden-green eyes may not be the subject of every shot, they are the lenses through which these pieces of art were created.
Jordan, 20, a junior at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA prefers to stay behind the camera, capturing the images she sees in front of her. Growing up in a household full of art projects crafted by her mother in pursuit of a Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Jordan was exposed to art at a young age. She enjoyed the art classes that her elementary and middle school had to offer and finally discovered photography at age 14.
“As silly as it sounds, it was all because of an online forum I was a part of. On that forum, there was a group for photographers. I looked through everything that those people did and decided I wanted to do it too, and I have been doing it ever since,” Jordan explained.
Jordan’s mother Christine Richards recalls the day she realized her daughter was truly passionate about photography.
“Jordan started her photography obsession in the eighth grade when she stole my birthday present,” said Christine. “That year was her brother’s senior year and he was playing football. I wanted to get some really good pictures so I asked for a really good camera… and I haven’t seen it since… at least in my hands I haven’t. It was the best present I ever asked for.”
With her camera in hand, Jordan can be found in a variety of places, from her own backyard all the way to the hills of Scotland, where she traveled with her university during her first year. She recalls it as her favorite experience as a photographer.
“We stayed in Edinburgh, so I was in heaven with those beautiful cobblestone streets and old architecture,” she reminisced. “But, the day that truly stood out the most was the day we took a bus tour of the Scottish border. If I told you to imagine picture-perfect grassy green hills and a bright blue sky with fluffy clouds, your imagination would probably get somewhat close how beautiful that day was, but not quite, because not even my pictures could show you that.”
Jordan cradles her camera, adjusting the manual settings and reviewing her unedited work. To her, real photography demands much more skill than taking “selfies” on a smartphone.
“It requires so much more than clicking a button. You need to consider the subject, how you want to shoot it, how you want it to turn out in the end. There’s so many layers to get that final image, how can it not be considered an art form?” Jordan said.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the camera holder. Through her images Jordan is able to give viewers a taste of how she perceives things.
“She sees beauty in the things most people would think strange,” said her mother.
While her current portfolio is full of photographs she has taken as a campus photographer at Arcadia, Jordan’s favorite photos have been mostly personal projects that come with tremendous stories. Animals are her favorite subjects, though she said that she does not have the opportunity to shoot them often. However, Jordan had the chance to capture the beauty of the horses she rode at a farm in NJ. In a photo titled “Nursing,” she captures the miracle of a foal nursing from its malnourished mother. The owner had starved the horse because it was too difficult to feed her in the snowy winter.
“In the image, you can see the mother’s bones showing, which is something you should not see so easily in a horse,” explained Jordan. “She was nine months pregnant, skin and bones.” Despite the odds, the mother survived and was even able to supply nourishment to her baby, as seen in the photo.
Another project that Jordan is particularly fond of is one she completed last semester titled, “Home.” When her parents sold Jordan’s childhood home and moved into a condo about 20 minutes from her hometown, she used her photography to document her discontent about being uprooted.
“To sum it up, it’s basically documenting all the small flaws in the new condo I live in that no one else would notice. But I notice them because I never wanted to leave my old house so I see everything wrong with this new place,” Jordan explained. “I think this project just kind of helped vent out some anger I had.” This is her first completed body of work, which is part of the reason she is so proud of it.
For such a young artist, Jordan has received a lot of recognition for her work. She was recently featured in the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, PA as part of the College Night Art Exhibition. She has also had a total of four photos featured on Ocean County Camera Club’s website for her second and third place awards. Her biggest triumph in terms of viewership, however, was from her photo blog on the website, Tumblr. One of her photos was on the “radar,” meaning that it shows up on every user’s dashboard and on the log-in screen when users enter the site.
“This gains tons of exposure for my work. I went from 388 followers to over 1,100 over night! It was absolutely insane, I still don’t know how to handle it,” Jordan said excitedly.
Though she is uncertain where her camera will take her in the future, Jordan will continue to show people the world the way she envisions it. As of right now, she had been met with much approval, motivating her to explore the realm of photography on an even deeper level. While the art form brings her immense personal satisfaction, she thrives off of the admiration of others.
“Every compliment is a great one. It means to world to me when someone just appreciates what I do,” Jordan said. For this student photographer, everything has the potential to be extraordinary; it’s just a matter of how you look at it.
PHOTO COURTESY of Jordan Richards