The journey that led Denise Jones to GBC

Jones is the woman behind the camera, taking portraits of the works of makeup students 

It took going full circle for Denise Jones to stumble upon a partnership with George Brown College (GBC).

Jones, a media freelancer, is the woman behind the camera and the creative mind behind the expressive photography that showcases the works of students in the makeup and aesthetics program at GBC.

Karen McLachlan, head of the makeup and aesthetics program, worked as a makeup artist at Citytv long before she came to the college.

In the newsroom, she met Jones, a videographer who later went on to work for CBC and HGTV before her very own company, Denise Jones Productions Inc., came to life.

McLachlan requested Jones come to the college a few years back, to document the work of the makeup students through professional portraits for the program.

Many of the portraits she has taken for the students since then can be found on Jones’ Instagram account.

Among the shots that stand out as her best work is one which features model Frederique Ndatirwa, wearing a striking head wrap along with a pair of Kenyan earrings to contrast.

Denise Jones captures a portait of Frederique Ndatirwa who models the makeup done by GBC student Kevin Ndatirwa. Photo: Denise Jones

As Ndatirwa, the model to showcase the work for make up student Kevin Ndatirwa walked in, Denise Jones was taken back to her birth country of Kenya and the three immediately connected to produce a stunning portrait showcasing African culture.

At 19, she came across a Citytv truck that was making a turn at Church and Gerrard St., and she thought to herself she wanted to work there someday as a camera operator.

“It’s just that one moment in time that inspired that thought,” she said.

During her studies in Britain, she reached out to Citytv through an email hoping for a response ahead of her return to Canada to be closer with her family.

She “didn’t want to put all (of her) eggs in one basket,” and looked to other places as well to secure a job by the time she got to Toronto.

“I knew on the plane coming back home that I had an interview with the managing director of Much Music, David,” Jones said, adding she was in disbelief at the time.

One thing led to another, and she landed right where she had hoped, working at Citytv full-time and was hired as the only woman working among 30 cameramen at the time.

“It brought a lot into my life,” she said, referring to Citytv.

Jones knew that she had to move on so she could do other things outside of news, and gave her notice of leave in March 2008, exactly five years later.

Her choice to freelance was motivated by her curiosity of the editing process.

On the shows she worked on, the camera crew would never handle anything beyond shooting.

Now, she does professional photography along with corporate videos offering different packages to companies.

“It doesn’t have to happen overnight,” Jones said, who has dedicated her life to videography and recently photography; something she decided to take on professionally five years ago.

Working freelance provided her with a diverse set of skills and gave her greater flexibility to make other people’s ideas come to life.

“When I take pictures, and I see people happy, that feeds my soul,” Jones said.


The journey that led Denise Jones to GBC