I've been a full-time freelance journalist since 2007, covering travel stories for Conde Nast Traveler, Hemispheres, Travel & Leisure and National Geographic.
I'm self-taught, with the exception of a semester at New York's School of Visual Arts and one three-week intensive at the Photography School of Asia in Bangkok.
To-date, my words and images have appeared in more than 50 publications. I've lived in Charleston and Oxford (Mississippi, not London), New Zealand, Montana, and New York City.
For the last 15 years, I've also spent four months per year in Southeast Asia––primarily in Bangkok and Cambodia––working in both photography and fundraising/NGO work.
I'm a member of the Nola Photo Alliance, the Society of American Travel Writers, and am the author of two books on New Orleans. I finally became a full-time resident of the French Quarter in 2019.
You can find out more on my site at www.Jennyadamsfreelance.com and on my humor/travel blog, at www.BuddhaDrinksFanta.com
Questions & Answers
Describe your art in three words.
Far-flung. Happy. Gritty.
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, in your neighborhood specifically influences your work?
There's always a dance party or a funeral; a break-up or a bar opening.
Something is always 'afoot' in this town, and everything is strangely celebrated––from Tuesdays to ghosts to grief.
I'm really drawn to that aspect of this place. I love that the city presents a flood of visual stories. There's so much beauty and so much darkness. The best people and places always have a large, wonderful helping of both.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
I work as a travel writer. Pre-pandemic, I was often on the road for a month or more at a stretch. That's the way I prefer to travel for work. I like to cram in 6 destinations in a month, really go all-out, and then come back home and nest for a few months.
In a month of travel, I will have my camera in my hand at all times. The weight of it causes me to look for photos, instead of just looking around. I begin framing everything, watching people and the way they move, how they smile or laugh or interact with others. I start to feel invisible, in a way.
So, if I have a ritual, it's to simply keep a camera in my hand.
Where do you draw inspiration?
I like big, crowded, gritty, loud cities. Perhaps, it's because I grew up in a suburb in Birmingham, Alabama, where everyone looked just the same. Now, I'm really drawn to Delhi and to Bangkok, New Orleans and New York City. I love all the color and the smells and the conversational din. I love the fact that anything could happen at any moment, because you have thousands of different humans moving through single city blocks, with different agendas and ideas and back stories.
Who are your artistic influences or gurus?
Philip-Lorca diCorcia shoots the most incredible portraits, which are very beautiful in the staging but extremely raw in subject. I saw his Hustler's series in a Chelsea gallery about 10 years ago. I still think about it. He photographed male prostitutes in Southern California in the 1990s, and the images from that series are otherworldly, but intensely visceral, too.
My favorite artist is Shawn Dickinson. He is a lowbrow cartoonist, and he has a visual vibe that's very Tiki/Horror/Hotrod/Surf-Punk. I work as a photographer, but I tinker around in my spare time with cartoons. If I ever get a tattoo, it will be a drawing by Shawn Dickinson.
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work?
There is nothing better in the world than Tom Waits on vinyl, a Sazerac and a French Quarter courtyard around 5pm.
I wouldn't say his music describes my photography, but it sure-as-hell inspires it.
Where can we find you when you are not creating art?
Cooking and eating!
My editorial coverage often focuses around where you should be eating and drinking in any given town. I am also very passionate about my own kitchen. Some day, I will finally win Powerball, and buy a big mansion on Esplanade, with an enormous pantry. I will fill it with spices and vinegars and olive oils and 1,000 jars of expensive mustard.
Some people hide infidelities from their partners. I have to hide the $29 bottle of Smoked Basil & Tarragon olive oil from Whole Foods.
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
I love 6am, when no one else is up yet, except for the drunks stumbling home. A hot mug of black coffee, my small black cat Vex Venom and a really good novel on a balcony at 6am? That's heaven.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
This is somewhat weird, but I actually know more about the Hotel Monteleone than any other person alive. I wrote their coffee table history book, for the 125th anniversary, back in 2011. The hotel had a lot of old menus and playbills and staff notes, but nothing was organized. They handed me a giant box of everything all thrown together and a contact at the historic archives. Now, it's my party joke that I'm the foremost authority in the known universe on a random hotel.