We are excited to introduce you to writer and photographer, and now Blowfish Journal Editor, Joanna Rentz.
I am going to be honest: it’s a little weird to be writing about myself. Man, I find it hard to even talk about myself. But, you know what? Let’s do it. Let’s jump right in.
I am thrilled to be partnering with the Blowfish Malibu team and am excited to meet the fabulous Blowfish customers! My background is in fashion and lifestyle writing, photographing, and social media. Prior to being a freelance writer and photographer, I worked with fashion company, Free People, for over six years. I was on the retail management side of things for awhile, but ended up in various roles in marketing, such as social media management, content creation, photography, and blog writing. Nowadays, I am lucky to work with different brands as a copywriter, photographer, blog writer, and now as a blog editor for Blowfish!
I am originally from Sonoma, California and currently reside in Los Angeles with my guy and our adorable little pup, Ruby. We spend a lot of time on the road camping, stargazing and hiking around with Roob. I feel most comfortable in nature, and a lot of my writing and photography expresses that. I asked my fashion designer best friend to come up with some questions for the interview so check it out below!
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How did your love of writing reveal itself and how has it evolved?
I had always enjoyed writing poems since I was an angst-y teen. They were absolutely terrible, but I didn’t care — it was a way for me to reflect on how I was feeling at the moment. Writing was a huge release for me. It put things in perspective — just putting my thoughts on paper would usually give me a positive outlook in the end.
Now, I love writing about the beauty I see around me, whether that’s in nature, human connectedness, vulnerability, or the love and strength that I see in people. I am most passionate about honest topics and things you wouldn’t typically see on a fashion blog, like what it’s like to live with an auto-immune disease, or discussing mental health issues. These vulnerable topics are real and people live with them everyday. I like focusing on them to let readers know that they are not alone, and that they have support around them.
Your photographs seem to reflect your love of the outdoors, what is it about nature that draws you to it?
Its infinite, powerful beauty. I love trying to capture the “otherworldliness” of nature, which is why I love shooting in the desert. The land is so barren and seemingly somewhat monotonous, but every detail, color, and shape that the desert gives you is alluring and surreal. It’s a special place.
Nature makes me feel overwhelmingly free, and I want that freedom to come across in my photos. I think that’s why I prefer to shoot models in nature too. I want the images to represent authentic and personal freedom.
Everyone can pick up a camera these days, but not every one is a photographer… how did you train your eye to see what so many of us miss and how do you continue to train yourself?
Oh, wow. I don’t think I have ever “trained” my eye. Simply put, I see something I feel connected to, or something I want to remember in a particular way, so I photograph it. Whether that is an honest, natural smile of a friend, or the vast purple mountains in Death Valley. I just point and click.
When I was writing and photographing for the Free People blog, I was always trying to capture behind the scenes photos from the shoots and campaigns. But of course, as a BTS photographer, I didn’t want to be seen or heard and I definitely never wanted to be in the way of the hired photographer so I would have to search for these weird angles where I wasn’t in the way, but I could still see the model and grab a cool shot. I was like a fly on the wall, but with a camera.
But I have been trying to train myself more! I am learning how to further manipulate angles, and play with focus, light, and composition to create a more meaningful image. I love capturing the candid moments in between shots.
If you could give yourself a pep-talk when you were first starting to write and photograph, what would you say?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. I am, 100%, my worst critic and I don’t always show myself very much grace. So I would say, a) relax girl. b) everything is fine and you have a lot to be thankful for. c) create art for yourself and be proud of it. Absolutely don’t create art for the approval of others. d) give yourself a break. Life is too fast to be wasting it on worry.
Where could we find you when you aren’t writing or editing?
I am a travel junkie and nature lover. Any free time that I have is spent outdoors either camping, hiking, road tripping or exploring new terrain. I have learned so much about myself just through the challenge of traveling. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable, awkward, or stressful to travel. It’s tough to get out of your comfort zone, but the reward is always greater than the risk.
Where is your dream travel location?
I need hot weather so give me the beach! I’d love to check out The Bahamas, but Mexico City is also on the top of my list.
If you weren’t a writer and photographer, what would you do?
Oh man, I’m not sure. Being freelance, I ask myself this question all the time. I love helping people, I love learning from challenging experiences, I love thinking creatively, I love authenticity. So… maybe… sheesh, I don’t know! Let’s just hope the freelance work keeps coming in for now so I have time to figure it out! Haha.
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How would you describe your own personal style?
I am a high-waisted jeans and vintage tee kind of girl. I am absolutely no fuss. Very little makeup, next to no jewelry, and my hair is always in a top bun. In my dreams I think my style is Jane Birkin, but in reality I think I’m just a tomboy.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
I think a deer! I have a recurring dream that I am bounding in a grassy meadow. It feels like I am running on a trampoline, but in slow motion. It’s so freeing. Anyway, it reminds me of a deer running… so that must mean something, right?
Who are you currently listening to on repeat?
Well, I have Janis Joplin’s Pearl on my record player right now, and each time I go to put on a new record, I just can’t seem to get myself to do it. So I flip the record and listen to the other side. This has been going on for some time now.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to get into writing?
Write from the heart. Don’t overthink, just spill it out onto the page. Everything that enters your mind, just write it down. You can worry about grammar and spelling later, but for now, just get it all out. Not only is it the most freeing feeling, but you’ll learn what your true voice is. I have been writing for fashion campaigns, products, consumers, and blog readers for a long time so my true voice has taken a back seat. But once I start free-writing, I find it and fall in love with writing again.
Follow Joanna on Instagram and check out her website.
Photos by Derek Wood.