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Mirror WORKS: My big shot; HOW JEANETTE EXPOSED HER HIDDEN TALENT.

Byline: Edited by TRICIA PHILLIPS

IT'S every bored housewife's fantasy - a hunky bloke with bulging biceps taking you away from your humdrum existence. But for Jeanette Jones that dream became a reality...

She snapped a sexy stranger on holiday in 1988 and her life changed for ever. One photo in particular, which she calls "Muscle Guy", found its way on to cards and posters around the world and launched her career as a top-selling photographer.

From spending her days polishing the coffee table - and feeling redundant now that her three children were growing up - Jeanette's black-and-white shots became the subject of arty coffee-table books.

She has also held exhibitions in London and Miami, won awards for ad campaigns and done shoots with footballer Ian Walker and boxer Nigel Benn. Yet two decades ago, when she was handed her first camera, she didn't have a clue what to do with it

"I didn't even know how to load the film when my husband bought me a camera for my birthday in the mid-80s," admits Jeanette, from London.

Despite taking an evening class in photography she still struggled with the technicalities. She recalls: "All that stuff about shutter speeds, F-stops and meter light readings went right over my head."

But Jeanette stuck with it. And on that fateful holiday in Spain, she discovered just how talented she was

"I watched one guy with amazing muscles - fascinated by the sun reflecting off his body," she says. "I couldn't resist asking if I could take a few shots."

Those shots prompted one member of her evening class to tell Jeanette about Madame JoJo's, a drag club in London, thinking its residents might prove an interesting subject to her. They were right.

"My daughter Victoria came home with some classmates one day to find me in the garden with all these drag queens in fantastic costumes - the kids were mesmerised and still talk about it now," says Jeanette, who then asked fellow photographer Herman Leonard how she could make photography a career.

"He took one look at my 'Drag Queen' and 'Body Beautiful' shots and gave me the contact for his publisher in Holland," she says. "My first shots of the Muscle Guy were then turned into posters and cards that sold around the world. I couldn't believe it. People wanted to buy my pictures."

In 1995, her drag queen series, titled Walk On The Wild Side, was turned into a book. And she hopes that her latest work - 40s-style, grainy shots of ballroom dancers - will also make it into a book one day.

"I'm still using my original Canon SLR, shooting mostly in black-and-white on film, but I've had to shoot in digital for some jobs," says Jeanette. "My advice to all mums out there is if you've got a passion, give it a go. You don't know what's inside you. I still don't know if I found photography or if it found me."

TO find out more, visit www.jeanettejones.co.uk Jeanette's work is currently available at Frontispiece, in London's Canary Wharf. Call 020 7363 6336.

CAPTION(S):

HUNK: Muscle Guy; HOT SHOT: Jeanette with her work Picture: ADAM SORENSEN
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 26, 2007
Words:528
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