Artist of the Week: Jellan Merlant-Pilonchery


"I wouldn’t live any other lifestyle. I feel so fortunate to say that I work full time in the industry of my dreams"

You may know him as the guy who shoots nude women and even wonder how the hell he got that gig but truth be told Jellan Merlant-Pilonchery has built himself from the ground up and is one hundred percent dedicated to his work. Having established his own business titled ‘Clash Studio’ this young motivated individual is smashing through life; sunny side up.

More than just a photographer and filmmaker Jellan exists to capture and create moments so raw, alluring and of course tasteful that no image is or can be seen the same. With a unique approach to his creative direction and ability to visually express something so moving through every single shot captured, the response to his work has been vast leaving this lively spirit humbled and grateful for being a part of this industry.  

Exploring Australia and the World has seen Jellan come alive in diverse opportunities and experiences; unleashing consistent art, photos and film in collaboration with numerous brands. With a strong vision and a clear mindset, I am truly inspired by JMP and Clash Studio.

With too many questions flying through my head I tried to cover what we’re all thinking about this longhaired ball of talent. And if his answers are anything to go off, you will realise just how genuine, thoughtful and dedicated Jellan is. 

Hey Jellan, how you going?
I’m feeling lively.

Can you briefly outline a typical day for you?
If I’m not on a shoot, there’s a high chance I’m in the office at home editing. Generally, I’ll get up at 7-7:30, head to the beach for a swim and a lay in the sun. I don’t feel human unless I start my day with a dip in the ocean. There I’ll have a read and catch up on emails on my phone. Then it’s back home to edit, admin, chase invoices before the next job... Sometimes a sneaky arvo shoot.

When did you first pick up a camera?
About 4-5 years ago.

Have you always wanted to be a photographer?
Not really, I sort of just fell into it. I took photography as a subject at school mostly to pass the time but I basically failed the class.

How did your business name Clash Studio come about?
I realised that my name was just too long to run with, ‘Jellan Merlant-Pilonchery photography and film’ just didn’t have much of a ring to it so I needed to find a name that I liked and that people would remember easily. I thought of ‘Clash’ on the basis that my work was ‘Clashing’ with the norm or with whatever else was out there, I also realised early on that a brand name doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything beyond how you identify with it. So I stuck with it and ‘Clash films’ changed to ‘Clash Studio’ to incorporate the photo aspect of my business too.

What drew you to your ethos and for those that don’t know can you further explain what that exactly is?
The idea is still to create content which ‘Clashes’ from the norm; whether that comes in the form of fashion/portraiture or via traditional corporate, branding, tourism work (clients and the public want to see things done differently and from a fresh perspective). Of course, there is an entire uprising of incredible talent and I don’t consider myself above anyone, I’m still just learning and coming into my own but I believe that everything is evolving so quickly now. On the fashion side of things, I always want to put women in a position of utmost power. After all they own the moment. I like the images to look raw but with a stylistic approach to them as well so that people see my work and identify it as mine I suppose.

Your photographs are honestly beautiful. Capturing emotions and with a strong aesthetic how do you think you have evolved since starting out and where do you see yourself in the future?
Thankyou! Purely and simply, when I started my shots were just terrible. That’s fully to be expected I suppose, but I hated them. Over time I’ve just learnt to be more accepting of my work and not shred it to pieces. I’ve let go of the idea of ‘rules’ in photography and film and because of that I think it’s helped me create a sense of identity in what I do. I do however want to put way more energy into film and video again, not listen to critics and instead explore every facet of my creativity with a focus on work/human beings that are story driven. From project conception to the final product I just want to improve everyday and push it to the next level. 

You have built a career from taking alluring images and film; can you explain what it’s like living this lifestyle?
Every single day is like starting a new job. You work with different teams, challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone. It can be high stress as regardless of the conditions you’re working in clients expect a result. I love it but it’s definitely not all glitz and glamour. There’s a lot of long hours editing behind a screen, thinking up projects and shots, seeking ways to improve and create something meaningful for clients and the public. But at the end of the day I have no one to really answer to, I make the calls and if everything goes wrong I have no one but myself to blame really hahaha. 

You have accumulated a large social following, would you say this was a slow process or more of a ‘happened over night’ thing?
I’m not sure… I’m more of a tiny fish in a really big pond. It’s definitely been unbelievably slow though; I think it’s harder as a content creator to get it overnight. Plus Instagram have made it near impossible to grow organically so mine’s been on standstill for months. Shoutout to insta.

You have had the opportunity to travel around the world, from this can you name a favourite shoot to date?
There are a lot of super memorable ones but my favourite has to be the campaign I shot for Sunday Somewhere in Morocco. It was so special.

The biggest inspiration and motivation behind your work?
For stills, Neave Bozorgi has always been the man, along with a heap of others. For film, classic DP’s like Roger Deakins and Kate Arizmendi, who a friend showed me recently. There’s a lot of local talent out there who really inspire me as well such as the boys from Jaen, good friends of mine.

Dream person to shoot (past or present)?
This one’s really hard. Rita Hayworth always blew me way. Grace Jones, Bridget Bardot, Queen Moss, Em Rata, Emma Bella.

Black and white or colour?
I love colour but B&W has dominated my portfolio for the past year. I think it helps people feel more with less distraction.

Any final words?
Never stop seeking. Be inspired by others, not threatened. Take the time to listen. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that this industry is ‘too competitive’ or ‘you won’t make it.’ They failed with that mindset, doesn’t mean you have to as well. Be friendly to everyone however, don’t let people walk all over you because regardless of how good your intentions are – people will take the piss.

Website/blog here 
Facebook: @clashfilm