Going through Jacqui Kenny’s collection of photography, one would think she has toured the world. Her pictures would create the impression of a professional photographer whose love for photography takes her across several destinations around the world. But in reality, she’s agoraphobic which means she fears the outdoors so she remains locked in the four walls of her studio where she does her photo shoot but how does she get these wonderful pictures?
Kenny is nothing like a conventional photographer. She expresses her passion in a different way. While a camera is the tool of the traditional photographer, hers is Google Street View. This mainstream technology helps her capture areas she could never visit because of her psychological disorder. She makes ample use of what Google’s cameras have already captured in its street view and creates stunning images out of it.
Kenny came about this peculiar activity from an encounter she had while clicking on Google Street View which ignited her passion for photography. In this encounter, she came across a captivating scene of a dog running behind the Street View camera car. She positioned the framing, clicked a screen-grab and thought to herself, “that’s a beautiful picture” and truly, it was. This marked the beginning of her photography journey with the Street View, one which challenged the norms of conventional photography and travel.
Kenny discovered a way to express her passion and creativity in a way that does not expose her to her worst enemy- agoraphobia. At the corner of her room, with her Google Street View, she tours the places around the globe which interest her. Her favorites are countries which are either close to the equator or far from it as it enables her to get reliable lighting with angular shadows. She has journeyed such places like Peru and Mongolia on the Street View, picking the side roads, out-of-the-way places and moments that appeal to her. Her sense of beauty depicted in her choices of images is evident in the aesthetic images she has on her Instagram page. The images are projected in clean lines from overexposed, minimalist backgrounds.
Although to Kenny, Street View is an alternative to traditional photography which requires visiting the site of shoots and connecting with people, she somehow feels a disconnect with the people in her pictures. People, are indeed the missing element from her pictures, appearing vague or too far away to connect with intimately.
Here, Kenny replaces the human interaction that an on-the-ground photographer might get out of subjects, by playing with reactions from kids (and animals) to the Google car.
In her reaction to this vacuum, Kenny said: “A lot of people ask me the question, ‘Do you feel like you’re there when you’re going to Street View?’ But no, I don’t feel like I’m there,” Kenny said. “I know that there’s a complete disconnect, and I am just looking for that perfect moment. I’m not trying to connect with a culture, because how much can you know without talking to people?”
Kenny is, clearly dissociating herself from her agoraphobic stereotype. With this new exposure and passion, she has decided to confront her fear, (traveling), by visiting the places she has captured in her pictures; she would then experience the element of traveling and the human connection which is sorely missing from the Google Street View.