House of Juba is a modern photographic agency based in Brighton.
We speak to founder Jody Juba about how the agency has evolved and working with strong creatives.
Why did you decide to set up House of Juba?
I had always worked in the creative sector, starting my career as an image researcher at the V&A, moving onto picture desks on various magazines and then moving on to become an art buyer in a large ad agency, AMVBBDO.
I loved organising and working on shoots and working with different photographers, set designers and make up artists.
However, I reached a point where I didn’t want to work for the man.
Back then it was still a very male-dominated industry and I didn’t want to be part of that.
Instagram, Facebook etc didn’t exist back then so there weren’t the platforms and support groups to speak up.
So, after a not very difficult decision to move to Brighton, I made the leap and set up on my own.
How has the agency evolved since starting in 2008?
In 2008 I had just had my first son and this is where the real planning came into play.
House of Juba started life as a visual consultancy.
I was working on image research briefs for publishing houses, magazines and ad agencies and I was hugely grateful for these projects to keep my mind active and stay in the creative circle.
I worked on these at night and any time I could grab in the day and it was here that I discovered more and more talented artists.
Instagram was just popping up so I began compiling lists of people I would like to meet and hopefully represent.
Is there a particular highlight that stands out?
Absolutely. After having my second son in 2010 I knew I was really ready to go out there and approach the artists I had been following.
I knew I had the experience and knowledge and contacts from my former years but it was a daunting prospect selling the agency and getting people to believe in you and hopefully join the HOJ team.
One day I visited an old colleague who was working as a lead creative at Adam&Eve.
I had gone to ask his honest opinion on the list of photographers I was considering for signing.
The timing was unbelievable. I went in, showed him one of the photographers Richie Hopson and he already had his work on his moodboard.
Later that evening as I was walking down Oxford Street his producer called to ask if they could commission him for an Esso Campaign.
At this point Richie wasn’t even signed but you know the rest.
Needless to say we did the job, a lot was learnt, the campaign looked amazing and he is now one of my top photographers.
How would you sum up the ethos of House of Juba?
It’s really important to me that we are approachable.
I have worked really hard to create a strong, energetic, creative and beautiful group of artists who stand alone in their expertise and experience but compliment each there at the same time.
I try to commission multiple artists on shoots so they can work together as much as possible.
We have some really long standing, regular clients. I do believe that being super kind, honest, hard working with a big dose of fun means these relationships continue to thrive for us.
What do you think makes the agency unique?
Visually I think the selection of talent we represent is really outstanding.
It was important to me to have a really considered and well curated team.
I believe whole heartedly in the artists I represent and am always so proud of the work they create.
We have a mix of ages and experience which combine to provide a super rich pool of talent.
We are a full service agency offering full production, set design and build, prop sourcing and styling, fashion styling, hair and make-up, videography and obviously beautiful photography.
You can’t knock experience, contacts and reputation, it means a lot.
I am grateful for the jobs I had prior to HOJ and the amazing people I met along the way.
It is a competitive industry that’s evolving all the time, so we have to adapt and evolve too.
How many photographers do you work with?
We currently have eight photographers, two set designers and prop stylists, one fashion stylist, one HMU artist and one visual artist.
We work across multiple sectors – editorial, fashion, commercial, corporate, film, sport, and lifestyle.
Why did you decide to base the agency in Brighton?
I moved from London to Brighton in 2007 after leaving the ad agency.
I had studied at Brighton University and always knew that one day I would come back to the sea.
I’ve always lived by the sea – born on Vancouver Island, raised in Margate, studied in Brighton – so it was meant to be.
In the early stages of the agency I spent about three days a week commuting back.
A dear friend gave me desk space in Hoxton and it enabled me to meet and connect with lots of new photographers and clients.
People always used to say ‘oh you’ve come all the way up from Brighton’ when I went for meetings in town which I found really funny.
A really old-fashioned approach.
But that has massively changed now, especially in the last six months as we have all experienced.
Like many I can do my job from anywhere but the social aspect is hugely important, face-to-face meetings, shoots, portfolio presentations, events.
I really, really have my fingers crossed for smaller agencies and businesses over this next period.
What’s next for House of Juba?
This year I was really hoping to grow and develop the agency but right now we are nurturing and planning.
We have some exciting projects in the pipeline and we hope these come to fruition.
Lockdown gave me the opportunity to talk and connect with lots of other agencies and production houses run by women and we hope to collaborate more and support each other.
I would like to see a large-scale exhibition early next spring to showcase some of our best work from the last few years.
So here’s to the future and fingers crossed.
Main image: Jody on the stairs © Olivia Oliver, oliviaoliver.co.uk